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.

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.

A 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.

Admission Requirements

  • Writing Sample: Required
  • GRE General: Not required
  • GRE Subject: Not required

Application Deadline: January 2

The application for fall 2022 admission will open in late August.

Admission Inquiry Form

Ph.D. 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. For all students, required courses are the Seminar in Dramatic Theory (TA 210) and at least two different installments of the Graduate Seminar (TA 220), the latter offered each year on rotating topics by different members of the Department's Graduate Faculty.

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.

Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies
Brown University
Box 1897
[email protected]

Visit the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies


Department Chair: Patricia Ybarra

Director of Graduate Studies: Patricia Ybarra