The Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies Program prepares 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. 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.

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 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 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 69 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework 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.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements No other specific grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations A preliminary portfolio examination in the areas of literature, history, and theory is required after course work is completed. This examination must be passed before being admitted into Ph.D. candidacy. A dissertation proposal must be submitted and defended after the completion of the preliminary examination.
Language Requirements Attain research competency in one language approved by their program advisor.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor. Four courses in the outside minor are required for ITS doctoral students.

Required COURSES

Students choose courses in consultation with their advisor; seven courses in theatre/performance history, theory, criticism and literature; three courses in theatre/performance practice; eight courses in an area of specialization; and, among these courses, three seminars.

One course, ENGL 850 Proseminar in Theatre Research, is required in the fall semester of the first year of study.

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 program faculty and may be placed on probation if they are not making satisfactory progress on program requirements.


The dissertation must be prepared under supervision of their program advisor.

The dissertation committee consists of four faculty members—the student's advisor, at least two additional faculty members from Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, and at least one member from another department.  At least three committee members must serve as readers, responsible for reading the entire dissertation closely.


15 credits

Time Constraints

The Prelim B exam (proposal defense) must be completed before the end of the second regular semester following the Prelim A exam.

Per Graduate School policy, doctoral students have five years from the date of passing preliminary examination to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation. Students may petition for an additional one-year extension.


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. Demonstrate understanding of the theory, history, and practice of drama and theatre as collaborative cultural forms across historical periods.
  2. Master the methods and materials of theatre and performance research and writing in order to produce original scholarly projects that range in complexity from term papers to dissertations.
  3. Develop methods for theatre and performance practice and theory in order to test the reciprocal relations between research and practice through reflective participation in the production process.
  4. Identify and distinguish among the diverse global locations of theatre and the intercultural contact among theatre traditions, especially as these multiply in the modern and contemporary periods.
  5. Prepare for future careers combining theatre and performance scholarship, teaching, and/or practice.
  6. Demonstrate professionalization in the discipline of theatre through participation in conferences and submission of work to scholarly journals.

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.