Graduate Programs

Theatre Arts and Performance Studies

The Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Ph.D. program takes a broad–spectrum approach to the study of histories, theories and methods of theater and performance.

The Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Ph.D. program takes a broad–spectrum approach to the study of histories, theories and methods of theater and performance.

The program offers a rigorous environment for pursuing doctoral research. Taking a broad-spectrum approach to the histories, theories, and methods of theatre and performance studies from a global perspective, the program trains doctoral students to use performance as an analytical lens to explore the labor of mimesis in the social. The PhD program provides students with a firm grasp of the fields of theatre studies and performance studies, an understanding of the historical underpinnings of theatre and performance practices globally, and an ability to employ performance theory and criticism in the service of scholarship across a range of objects of study.

Brown’s environment is alive with the intersections of performance practice and theory. PhD students benefit from formal and informal cross-currents with Brown’s acclaimed MFA Playwriting Program, the Brown/Trinity MFA Programs in Acting and Directing (offered in consortium with the Tony Award winning Trinity Repertory Company), the Brown Arts Institute, and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Brown’s libraries provide exceptional special collections for performance-related research, including the Harris Collection of American Drama and Poetry, the Smith Collection of Conjuring, Magicana, and Popular Entertainment, and the Albert-Bernard Shaw Collection. Our students take full advantage of Brown’s unique interdisciplinary opportunities—including the Open Graduate Education Program, which enables doctoral students to apply to pursue a Master’s degree in a secondary field of study at Brown—and gain teaching experience through a variety of opportunities in and beyond the department.

Application Information

Application Requirements

GRE Subject:

Not required

GRE General:

Not required

Writing Sample:



Application Deadline

Completion Requirements

Required Courses for the Ph.D.: Students who do not yet have a Masters in the field and expect to acquire an A.M. in the process of doctoral candidacy at Brown will complete at least 15 courses. Two of these may be independent studies. Students who already have an A.M. or M.F.A degree from another institution will work with the Director of Graduate Studies to determine how many of their A.M. or M.F.A. credits will transfer toward Brown's Ph.D. degree. For students for whom all credits are accepted the following will be required. For the Ph.D. degree, at least 8 courses beyond the Master's Degree are required. Two of these may be independent studies. PhD students are required to take TAPS 2100 Seminar in Performance Studies and Theatrical Theory (offered every other fall) once. PhD students are also expected to take the TAPS Graduate Seminars offered each semester on rotating topics by different members of the Department's Graduate Faculty. The remaining courses may be chosen from course offerings throughout the university.

To qualify for doctoral candidacy all students will be expected to meet a foreign language requirement and take a comprehensive exam. For the foreign language requirement, either the student must prove that s/he has developed reading competency in two foreign languages, or s/he must take one foreign language to the level of research proficiency. Comprehensive exams will be taken three to six months after the completion of course work, and conversation about the exams should begin with the committee chair before the last semester of coursework. The exams consist of one general exam on theatre and performance history and three specialized essay exams based on reading lists prepared by the student and augmented and approved by the student's committee to reflect areas of scholarly interest. Upon passing the comprehensive exams, a scholarly dissertation is required. The dissertation, formatted in either Chicago or MLA style, will be subject to an oral defense.

Please see program website for more detailed description of requirements.

Alumni Careers

Learn More


Department Chair
Jayna Brown
Director of Graduate Studies
Patricia Ybarra

Contact and Location

Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies

Mailing Address

Brown University
Box 1897
Visit the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies