Doctoral Program


PLEASE NOTE:  To better support our current students through the global pandemic, admissions for the TAPS Ph.D. program will be paused for the 2021-2022 academic year. We look forward to the time when we can resume reviewing applications for our Ph.D. admissions process

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

While offering a rigorous background in theater history in global perspective, we also use performance as an analytical tool, exploring the labor of mimesis in the social. A slate of courses with significant strength in performance theory, theater history, cultural studies, visual studies, and world performance allows students to determine the right mix of theater studies and performance studies for their projects. We offer opportunities to take classes throughout the University and encourage taking full advantage of diverse resources both on campus and in greater Providence.

The consortium with Trinity Repertory Company, Brown's playwriting program, and cross-currents with RISD make the Brown environment alive with intersections between practice and theory. The libraries at Brown provide exceptional special collections, including the Harris Collection of American Drama and Poetry; the Smith Collection of Conjuring, Magicana, and Popular Entertainment Forms; and the Albert-Bernard Shaw Collection.

The graduate program is highly selective, with a small cohort which gives students access to regular individual mentorship and ensures success in the graduate program.

The Department requires that each student gain experience in pedagogy through teaching opportunities within the Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Department itself. Specific teaching assistantships will be determined in consultation with a student’s committee.

The program offers a number of options for admission. Students with a BA may apply for either:

  • The MA/PhD program: students accepted to this program do not yet have a Masters in the field and expect to acquire an MA in the process of doctoral candidacy at Brown.
  • The PhD program: students who already have an MA in Theatre and/or Performance  Studies or a related field may apply for the PhD. Students with an MFA may also apply to the PhD, but may be required to complete additional coursework.

Required for application: A statement of purpose (also called a personal statement, generally 2-3 pages), an academic writing sample (10- 25 pages), and three letters of recommendation are requested with the application.

Also requested are complete official transcripts of all work (graduate and undergraduate) in sealed envelopes. 

All international applicants whose native language is not English must submit an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. 

For questions about the PhD program, contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Patti Ybarra, [email protected].

For questions about the application process (including TOEFL submission, LORs, and other technical questions), please contact the Graduate School directly at a[email protected].

Applications to the Ph.D. and MFA programs are submitted to, and managed through, the Graduate School. Please do not email the department with technical questions or requests to troubleshoot your online application submission. You can find detailed instructions about the application process and components here. The application FAQ can be found here.

Transcripts and letters of recommendation and any other supplementary materials should also be sent to directly to the Graduate School mailing address. Sending application materials directly to the Department will delay the processing of your application.