The Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies program prepares M.A. 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. 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.

Fall Deadline January 5
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Applicants to the M.A. degree program 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 as 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.

Fall semester admission: Applications must be received by January 5 to guarantee consideration for financial aid.

Spring semester admission: The program does not accept applications for study beginning in spring semester.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

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

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Candidates may not file more than one grade of Incomplete per semester.
Assessments and Examinations 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.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required COURSES

Students choose courses in consultation with their advisor. There is one required 3-credit course,  ENGL 850 Proseminar in Theatre Research, taken in the fall semester of the first year. 21 of the 30 credits must be in ITS courses.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

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

UW–Madison Undergraduate

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

UW–Madison University Special

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


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


The thesis must be prepared under the supervision of their program advisor.

The thesis committee consists of three faculty members—their advisor, at least one additional faculty member from Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, and one other member.


15 credits

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 program steering committee.


Most ITS students are funded through teaching assistantships in the following courses: Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature and Theatre in Education. Both courses provide opportunities for students to develop their own teaching styles and skills. Students also receive funding through fellowships and project assistantships.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in theatre, drama and performance.
  2. Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the study of theatre, drama and performance.
  3. Demonstrates understanding of theatre, drama and performance in historical, social, and global contexts.
  4. 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.
  5. Communicates clearly in projects that include collaborative theatre practice, writing seminar-level research papers, and a master's thesis.
  6. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.

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


National Association of Schools of Theatre

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2019-2020.