Committee on Theater & Performance Studies PhD Program

Students cannot receive a stand-alone PhD in TAPS. Rather, they enter through another department and pursue their degree jointly with that other discipline. Degree requirements for the combined degree in TAPS will of necessity vary slightly from student to student in order to accommodate the requirements of the partnering departments, but all candidates are required to complete the following minimum requirements. 

Each student will take a total of 12 courses toward the TAPS degree, typically by the end of the third year. The coursework in TAPS will include:

  • A two-course graduate sequence in the History and Theory of Theater and Performance, designed to provide a rigorous introduction to advanced study in the discipline.
  • Three TAPS-related seminars within the entry department, to be determined in consultation with the Chair of TAPS.
  • Five courses outside the entry department. 
    • Three courses in theater or performance practice (e.g., advanced acting, directing, design, choreography, etc.).
    • Two seminars, selected in consultation with the Chair of TAPS, which complement the student’s disciplinary training.
  • A two-term qualifying paper and/or performance project, to be developed in consultation with a faculty member in TAPS and a second faculty advisor from the entry department.  The qualifying paper and/or performance project are typically undertaken during the fall and winter quarters of the student’s fourth year.  This work is typically accommodated in two independent research courses that count toward the 12 courses for the degree.

In addition, students in TAPS will be expected to:

  • Participate in the TAPS graduate workshop. The TAPS workshop brings together students, faculty, and invited guests to discuss work in progress as well as current developments in the wider field of theater and performance studies.
  • Complete two internships in theater or performance practice with a professional theater, dance, or performance company (in our outside Chicago). At least one of the internships should be completed over the summer (perhaps with the UChicago Performance Lab).
  • Adhere to the Foreign Language Requirement of the entry department.
  • Fulfill a teaching requirement: Students will be expected to complete two quarters of TAPS-related teaching. This could take the form of teaching a section in the TAPS undergraduate core, or a teaching assistantship or instructorship for a TAPS-related course in the entry department. 

Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Proposal

Students are expected to complete the qualifying exam in TAPS at the outset of the fourth year and to prepare a dissertation proposal and assemble a dissertation committee by the end of the fourth year. 

  • The qualifying exam is an oral exam based on a reading list of 20–30 works and a brief thesis paper (5-10 pp.) summarizing key issues and concepts guiding the student’s intellectual agenda. The exam provides an opportunity for the student to look back and lend coherence to his or her coursework and also to look forward to the dissertation proposal and to the longer-term project of developing a profile as a scholar, artist, or scholar-artist.
  • The dissertation proposal and dissertation committee should reflect the program’s joint nature by including at least one faculty member from the Committee on TAPS. The exact structure of a student’s proposal will be determined in consultation with the director of graduate studies of the entry department. Ideally, the proposal should be approximately 15-20 pages in length and should detail three components: (1) the scholarly and artistic stakes of the project; (2) the methodologies to be employed; and (3) a detailed outline of the planned chapters and, if appropriate, the planned creative work. The proposal should be completed and defended one quarter after the PhD exam (not counting the summer) and no later than the end of the fourth year. The dissertation should be completed no later than the end of the sixth year.