Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies (ITS) is a cross-campus coalition of faculty who research and teach in drama, theatre, and performance studies. Together, we offer a truly interdisciplinary program of study for the MA, PhD, and doctoral minor. ITS consists of more than two dozen faculty from more than a dozen departments and programs. ITS students ground their studies in theatre history, dramatic literature, and performance theory, and go on to develop innovative research that demonstrates the intellectual capaciousness that is a hallmark of theatre and performance studies as a field.

The Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies program prepares MA students to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary research in theatre studies, and to conduct inquiry through scholarly research, practice as research, and meaningful teaching experiences. The MA can serve as a preparatory degree for the PhD, or as a terminal degree for students seeking greater exposure to theatre, drama, and performance studies beyond the undergraduate degree.

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.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

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) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1241.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Applicants must include in their application a one to two-page Reasons for Graduate Study statement explaining the candidate’s reasons for pursuing graduate study. Statements of intent should include in specific detail the applicant’s area of interest, possible research questions and methodological focus, and future goals. Additionally, applicants must submit a 15-20 page writing sample. Writing samples reflecting the applicant’s skills in theatre and drama research are preferred. Applications are judged on the basis of the prospective student’s previous academic record, references, personal statement, and writing sample.

Applications must be received by the fall application deadline to guarantee consideration for financial aid.


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 restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

MA students receive two years of funding through a combination of fellowships, teaching assistantships, and project assistantships. Most ITS students are funded through teaching assistantships in various courses, including ENGL/Theatre 120: Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature. These appointments provide opportunities for students to develop their own teaching styles and skills. 

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

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

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

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

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 15 credits must be graduate-level coursework. All courses must be numbered 300 or above. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required. Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
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.

Students must complete ENGL 850 Proseminar in Theatre Research in the fall semester of the first year. Additionally, ENGL 795 One-credit Seminar is highly recommended in the first fall semester.

24 of the 30 credits must be in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies courses and approved by the faculty advisor.

ITS Course Options

ENGL/​THEATRE  575 British Drama, 1914 to Present3
ENGL/​THEATRE  576 Survey: Theories of Drama3
ENGL 859 Seminar-Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies2-3
ENGL/​THEATRE  577 Postcolonial Theatre: Drama, Theory and Performance in the Global South3
ENGL/​THEATRE  578 Modern American Drama and Theatre3
ENGL 651 Special Topics in Theatre and Performance Studies Research3
ENGL/​THEATRE  731 Advanced Theatre History 500 BC to 17003
ENGL/​THEATRE  732 Advanced Theatre History 1700 to Present3
ENGL 851 Advanced Studies In Theatre and Performance Studies Research3
THEATRE/​GEN&WS  415 Introduction to Contemporary Feminist Theatre and Criticism3
THEATRE/​CURRIC  525 Theatre in Education3-4
THEATRE 619 Special Topics in Theatre and Drama1-3
THEATRE/​CURRIC  562 Drama in Education: Advanced Studies3-4
ENGL 795 One-credit Seminar1
ENGL 850 Proseminar in Theatre Research2

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

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students may transfer no more than 14 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

With program approval, students may transfer up to 7 graduate level credits from another institution or graduate level, numbered 300 and above, from the undergraduate career completed at UW–Madison. 

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students may transfer up to 15 credits numbered 700 or above.


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 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.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

The MA 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.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

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

Program Resources

ITS student life includes an active program of colloquia and speakers, annual short play festivals, and a yearly conference organized by ITS graduate students.

Learning Outcomes

  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.


ITS Faculty

Aparna Dharwadker, Professor, English; ITS

Christine Garlough, Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies

Paola S. Hernández, ITS Program Director; Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

Luís Madureria, African Studies

Michael Peterson, Professor, Art; ITS

Mary Trotter, Associate Professor, English; ITS

Mike Vanden Heuvel, Professor, Classics and Near Eastern Studies (CANES); Integrated Liberal Studies; ITS

Affiliate Faculty

Sandra Adell, African American Studies

Karen Britland, English

Margaret Butler, Music

Joshua Calhoun, English

Jill H. Casid, Art History

Laurie Beth Clark, Art

Susan Cook, Music

David Furumoto, Theatre and Drama

Erica Halverson, Curriculum and Instruction

Maksim Hanukai, German, Nordic, and Slavic

Andrea Harris, Dance

Laura McClure, Classics

Fredric Neyrat, Comparative Literature & Folklore Studies

Jen Plants, English

Ann Shanahan, Professor, Theatre and Drama

Mark Vareschi, English

Natalie Zervou, Dance