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Ph.D. – Theatre Studies

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“From evidence to action”—this phrase captures the organizing principle of Graduate Theatre Studies at Florida State University. The faculty is committed to a process that moves from collecting and analyzing evidence to creating action in the form of written and performed research. Whether performances are live or mediated through technology, they are respected as evidence to be approached through scholarly research and analysis. Whether performances originate in ethnographic or archival research or move more traditionally from page to stage, they are this program’s subject matter.

As scholars in Theatre and Performance Studies, our faculty and students use a variety of approaches to collect and analyze various forms of evidence—documents, interviews, images, and objects as well as play scripts. Our methodologies reflect the most current developments in theatre research while still respecting tried and true methods of the past. They include: Historiography, Ethnography, Cultural Studies, Performance Studies, Critical Race, Queer and Gender Studies, Phenomenology, Dramaturgy, and Textual Analysis. These methods are integrated throughout our curriculum.

Each of these methods shares a commitment to exploring performances in their social, historical, and political contexts. Faculty expertise in such areas as devised performance, the ethics of violence, and community activism provide students with examples of how theoretical ideas intersect with performances of the past and present. Our scholarship reflects the belief that performance, from ancient Greek tragedies to the most postmodern performance art, is part of a vital process through which citizens shape their communities. We consider our work as scholars, teachers, and artists integral to that ongoing process.

In keeping with the overarching principle of evidence into action, these themes run through the program:

  • The tradition made new. Although a thorough grounding in Western theatre history and canonical works of dramatic literature are an integral part of the curriculum, re-imaginings of the classics from postcolonial, feminist, and queer perspectives are encouraged.
  • An international perspective. The emphasis on the intersection of citizenship and performance is enhanced through exposure to a range of performance traditions, plays, and politics.
  • New work and new ways of working. In addition to a keen interest in the staging of new plays and other types of performance activity, students are encouraged to engage with current theoretical models of conceptualizing identity and performance.

Distinctive Features of Graduate Theatre Studies in the FSU School of Theatre:

  • Theoretical and practical grounding: Students receive strong grounding in theatre history and dramaturgical practice to support their use of contemporary critical methodologies.
  • Professional development and mentoring: Professional development and mentoring are emphasized at all stages of the individual student’s career. Students are supported in their class work, teaching, conference presentations, and publishing efforts.
  • Nationally ranked MFA programs: The graduate programs in Theatre Studies are embedded in a full-service theatre training school that includes MFA programs in costume design, directing, production technology, and theatre management. Our MA and PhD programs are distinguished by our close relationships with the professional artists who direct these programs and with whom we collaborate in devising research and curricular opportunities for students.
  • A synergistic relationship between undergraduate and graduate programs in Theatre Studies: The benefits of strong undergraduate programs in theatre are best exemplified by the teaching opportunities that are available to MA and PhD graduate students.

Professional Training Objectives

Primary placement objectives for MA and PhD students include research universities and top liberal arts colleges as well as dramaturgy and literary management positions in regional theatres and leading small theatre companies in urban centers. Specifically, the PhD prepares students for careers in teaching and research at the college and university levels and a variety of careers in the arts and related professions.


Current Students and Alumni

Click here to learn about our current students and alumni.

To Apply:

  • See How to Apply to the MA or PhD in Theatre Studies
  • To be considered for nomination for a University fellowship, students must have completed their application both to the University and to the School of Theatre by January 5, 2021.
  • For best consideration for School of Theatre assistantships and funding, apply by January 5, 2021.
  • We will continue to review applications throughout the Spring Semester until all Theatre Studies assistantship positions are filled.
  • For information on funding opportunities at Florida State University, also visit The Graduate School website.  Current information is posted on or about November 1st each year.

We look for the following:

  1. Completion at an accredited graduate institution of a Master’s level degree in Theatre, Performance Studies, or a closely related discipline.
  2. Evidence that the student performed at a high level in that program.
  3. Evidence that the student has a clear research agenda that the Theatre Studies faculty can support.
  4. Evidence in the form of the Master of Arts thesis or substantial essays, supplemented by assessments provided by qualified scholars, that the student has reached a high level of skill in performing and communicating research.
  5. Competitive scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and, for international students, on the TOEFL iBT.
  6. Applicants also must meet the University admissions standards articulated in the General Bulletin: Graduate Edition. Admission to the program is determined based on the assessment of the Theatre Studies faculty and the Program Director.

Degree Requirements:

After satisfactorily completing their coursework, students must pass comprehensive examinations (written and oral) to advance to candidacy and write the dissertation. This final step includes the writing and defending of a prospectus for the research project, and the writing and oral defense of the dissertation.

In addition to meeting all University requirements, the doctoral program in Theatre Studies requires that students demonstrate reading knowledge of at least one foreign language, complete an assignment in production dramaturgy, and complete at least one term of student teaching in a course with a web-assisted component.


Ph.D. Theatre Studies Flyer

Graduate Application PDF

Graduate Application Word Doc

More Information


Dr. Mary Karen Dahl
Director, Theatre Studies Graduate Programs
239 Fine Arts Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1160