Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance

The Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance at Columbia University encourages students to explore the reciprocal relationships between performance and scholarship, criticism and creation, theory and practice in one of the world’s great centers of theatrical performance, New York City. The program is designed at once to provide the opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the prevailing traditions of Western and non-Western drama, theatre, and performance scholarship, as well as to identify a specific trajectory of individual research. Overseen by an interdepartmental faculty committee–drawn from the Department of English and Comparative Literature, the Theatre Program of the School of the Arts, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, various language departments, Philosophy, Classics, and the Barnard College Department of Theatre–the program encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary research across the wide spectrum of theatre and performance studies. The relatively small size of the program ensures a close working relationship with supervising faculty; doctoral students in Theatre and Performance often work with doctoral students in other humanities fields, as well as with Theatre Program M.F.A. students in directing, dramaturgy, and playwriting. Doctoral students are admitted with a six-year package of funding, which combines both fellowship and teaching support. In the past decade, Ph.D. students from the program have been appointed to tenure-track positions in a range of fields (English, Theatre, Performance Studies) at Stanford, Princeton, Boston University, Indiana University, King’s College London, The University of Texas at Austin, Skidmore College, the Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, and elsewhere.

Admissions pause for 2021-22

In response to the disruptions wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance program is—alongside the great majority of Columbia University departments and programs—pausing admissions for fall 2021. This one-year hiatus will allow us to provide our current students with additional support as they navigate the unanticipated needs that have arisen since the pandemic began. We are committed to devoting our full attention and support to our current doctoral students, and to mentoring them closely so that their research may recover as quickly as possible.

We understand that this may be disappointing news to those seeking to begin doctoral study in the fall of 2021, but we believe that we have an abiding responsibility to the students whom we have admitted in the past, and whose success must be secured to the best of our capabilities. Prospective Ph.D. applicants are encouraged to apply in 2021 for admission in fall 2022.

The co-chairs of the program would be happy to answer questions, and to remain in touch with applicants, throughout the coming year. There are several initiatives underway with regard to the program, and we look forward to welcoming new faculty, and a full cohort of incoming students, for the 2022-23 academic year.

We thank you for your understanding, and wish you the best in all your endeavors.

Degree Programs: Full-Time: M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Co-Chair: W. B. Worthen, Ph.D.
Alice Brady Pels Professor in the Arts
506 Milbank Hall
Barnard College

Co-Chair: Julie Stone Peters, Ph.D.
H. Gordon Garbedian Professor of English and Comparative Literature
602 Philosophy Hall