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:

  • Two core classes designed to provide a rigorous introduction to advanced study in the discipline: One designated to fulfill the core requirements in the history or historiography of theater and performance and one designated to fulfill the graduate core requirement in the theory of theater and performance. These courses may be fulfilled in TAPS or in partnering departments. See the TAPS Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for a list of these courses in any given term.
  • Three TAPS-related seminars within the entry department, to be determined in consultation with the TAPS DGS.
  • Five courses based primarily outside the entry department, comprising:
    • Two or three courses—depending on the student’s professional ambitions—with a significant practice-based component (e.g., advanced acting, directing, dramaturgy, design, choreography, design, etc.).
    • Two or three seminars, selected in consultation with the TAPS DGS, 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  paper and/or project is typically undertaken during the fall and winter quarters of the student’s fourth year in two independent research courses or through the Performance Practice as Research (49700) course which may be taken prior to the fourth year. (See below for more information.)

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 one internship in theater or performance practice with a professional theater, dance, or performance company, either in Chicago or with national or international partners. Forms with specific instructions for this requirement can be found in the Downloads menu to the right.
  • 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, Qualifying Paper and Dissertation Proposal

Students are expected to complete the qualifying exam in TAPS at the outset of the fourth year, to complete their qualifying paper or performance during that year (if they haven't already done so), 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 exam should be prepared and administered in consultation with a faculty member in TAPS and a second faculty advisor from the entry department. Preparation should ideally start in the spring of the third year.
  • A two-term qualifying paper and/or performance project should be developed in consultation with a faculty member in TAPS and a second faculty advisor from the entry department, often the same two faculty members who have administered the qualifying exam.  The paper and/or project is typically undertaken during the fall and winter quarters of the student’s fourth year in two independent research courses or through the Performance Practice as Research (49700) course which may be taken prior to the fourth year.
  • 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.