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Progression Toward Degree

First-Year Proficiency Review

The examining committee will formally review the student’s progress and proficiency at the end of the second semester of residence. The review will clarify the student’s progress up to that point and will establish whether the student will be encouraged to continue.

Teaching Portfolio Assessment

At the end of the fourth semester, students present two teaching portfolios to demonstrate knowledge of a substantial body of the history and theory of theatre, cinema, or performance, together with the related dramatic literature, films, or equivalent traces of performance. Portfolio materials are intended to demonstrate the student’s readiness to teach undergraduate courses.

Comprehensive Examinations: Area of Specialization

The specialization defines the area of scholarship to which the dissertation will make a significant contribution. This area is related to but more broadly conceived than the precise dissertation topic. In the research assessment and the oral examination, the student must show readiness to write academic articles as well as both general and specific knowledge of the chosen specialization. The assessment process is designed to prepare the student to complete the dissertation prospectus and begin work on a dissertation.

At the start of the fifth semester, students will show their readiness to write academic articles by presenting an article or essay suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal or anthology. Upon completion of this research assessment, students will show their generalized and specific knowledge of their chosen area of specialization in an oral examination. The committee will formulate questions based upon a reading list submitted during the previous semester.

The Dissertation Committee

Each student selects a PhD dissertation major professor and forms a dissertation committee at the time of formally proposing a prospectus, if not sooner. The dissertation committee and major professor are charged with approving or disapproving the proposal and aiding in the completion of an approved study.

The Dissertation Prospectus

In a meeting separate from the oral exam, the student presents the dissertation prospectus to the committee for review. This review meeting may take place before or after the comprehensive exams but not in direct connection with them. If the prospectus review is favorable, the student may begin work on the dissertation.

Admission to Candidacy

Candidacy is granted upon the completion of these steps:

  1. Completing 40 semester hours of coursework and directed study;
  2. Completing a formally approved program of study;
  3. Formally satisfying the foreign language requirement;
  4. Passing the portfolio assessment;
  5. Passing the comprehensive written and oral examination.


The dissertation should be in continual development from the time the student first enters. The student may submit a proposal for formal approval at any time in the course of his or her program. The dissertation should be a study of a single topic based on new research or approached in a new way. It must be a study that contributes to or enhances knowledge of theatre or performance studies. Following completion of the dissertation, the major professor and the dissertation committee will conduct an oral dissertation defense.

Deadlines for Graduating Students

For deadlines, visit the graduate school website here

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