The interdisciplinary theatre studies program prepares M.A. and Ph.D. students to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary research in theatre studies, and to conduct inquiry through scholarly research, practice as research and meaningful teaching experiences. The M.A. can serve as a preparatory degree for the Ph.D., or as a terminal degree for students seeking greater exposure to theatre, drama and performance studies beyond the undergraduate degree. Through rigorous coursework enhanced by the study of, and participation in, various forms of theatre and performance practice, the Ph.D. program prepares graduates for positions as college and university researchers and instructors, as well as public intellectuals and scholar/practitioners. Students with a background in theatre by, with, and for children and youth may apply to specialize in theatre for youth.

The program’s core and affiliate faculty are leaders in theatre and performance studies, whose scholarship, practice and leadership in the profession are recognized nationally and abroad. The core faculty’s strengths include global dramatic literatures, theatre history and historiography, theatre and cultural theory, the theory and practice of theatre for youth, and relational performance. Our affiliate faculty expand the coursework and advising available to students, incorporating related fields of visual cultures, anthropology, art and art history, literary and theatre studies across English and non-English-speaking traditions, music, new media and digital design, gender and women's studies, and other disciplines.

The program attracts students from across the United States as well as internationally. It creates opportunities for students to engage in teaching and practice as part of their research. It also encourages students to participate in national and international professional meetings, working groups and colloquia; and to share their art and research through practice and publication in their field.

Financial support available to students in the program includes fellowships, teaching assistantships and project assistantships. Please contact the program chair or graduate coordinator for more information about financial support.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master's Degrees


Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

30 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

At least 50% of credits must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students may count no more than 18 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, students may count up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above.

Prior Coursework Requirement: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students may count up to 15 credits numbered 700 or above if difference in tuition is paid.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

One 3-credit course: Proseminar in Theatre Research, taken in the fall semester of the first year.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required

Other Grade Requirements

Candidates may not file more than one grade of Incomplete per semester.

Probation Policy

Students are reviewed annually by the research faculty and may be placed on probation if they are not making satisfactory progress on program requirements.

Advisor / Committee

The thesis must be prepared under the supervision of the major professor.

Committee consists of three faculty members—advisor, at least one additional faculty member from interdisciplinary theatre studies, and one other member.

Assessments and Examinations

Significant participation in one University Theatre production (in a variety of positions) is required. A thesis is required; this thesis should be the product of the candidate's independent research.

A one-hour examination on the thesis presentation is required.

Time Constraints

The M.A. program is designed to be completed in three to four semesters of full-time study. Students may request a variance in this time frame by approval of the research faculty.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.

Applicants to the M.A. and Ph.D. degree programs in interdisciplinary theatre studies need to include in their application a thoughtful statement about their interests in theatre research and the areas in which they might like to study, as well a sample of their writing in the form of an advanced research paper. Applications are judged on the basis of the prospective student’s previous academic record, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, references, personal statement, and writing sample.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in theatre, drama and performance.
  • Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the study of theatre, drama and performance.
  • Demonstrates understanding of theatre, drama and performance in historical, social, and global contexts.
  • Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the fields of drama, theatre and performance.
  • Communicates clearly in projects that include collaborative theatre practice, writing seminar-level research papers, and a master's thesis.

Professional Conduct

  • Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Dharwadker, Vanden Heuvel, van de Water; Associate Professors Peterson, Trotter (chair). The program also works closely with affiliate faculty from programs across the university.