Admissions Requirements

The program leading to the Ph.D. degree is designed to encourage students to examine the reciprocal relationships between scholarship and performance, criticism and creativity, theory and practice. Theatre and performance are considered in relation to broader cultural and historical questions.

Students entering the program have strong backgrounds in some dimension of the academic study of performance and performance practice, ranging from performance and philosophy to literary studies, theatre history and performance theory. The program, strongly interdisciplinary in nature, is run by an interdepartmental committee and is enriched by the faculty resources of the Department of English and Comparative Literature, the School of the Arts, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, language departments, Anthropology, Classics, and of the Barnard College Department of Theatre. Because of its New York location, the program is attuned to emerging events in contemporary theatre and society. Students are admitted for the Ph.D. only, and receive both the M.A. and M.Phil as part of their progress toward the doctoral degree. The admissions committee carefully considers all applications, and the program encourages students with either a bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in any related discipline of drama, theatre, and performance research to consider applying.

A complete application to the Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance includes:

-the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences application form (see GSAS site for details)

-a c.v.

-transcripts from previous academic institutions (see GSAS site for details)

-a statement of academic purpose, outlining your academic interests, and possible trajectories of future work in the study of drama, theatre, and performance. Since students in the program take two years of intensive coursework, we expect that your goals and interests may well change. The statement identifies your academic orientation at the time of application.

-a critical writing sample (20pp. maximum, typically 6000 words, double-spaced). The writing sample need not be in the field of your future work, but should represent your rhetorical fluency as well as your critical, theoretical, and interpretive capabilities, preferably with regard to drama, theatre, and/or performance; you should feel free to add a note at the beginning of the sample locating it in relation to scholarly interests, or describing its place in a larger project if it is excerpted from a longer piece of writing.

-three letters of recommendation; the most effective letters are from faculty members who know you, your work, and your scholarly potential in the field well.

-applicants whose native language is not English and who have received an undergraduate degree from an institution in a country where the official language is not English are required to submit results of the TOEFL/IELTS (see GSAS site for details)

-for fall 2022 admission to the Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance, we are not requiring submission of GRE general test scores. However, we encourage applicants who take the GRE to feel free to submit their results as part of their application. The admissions committee will consider GRE scores—in practice, only the verbal score—if submitted, but all applications, with or without the GRE, will be considered complete.

Application deadline: December 16, 2021

For more information, please visit our Admissions information page: