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Home > Programs > Theater > Graduate Degrees > Theater and Performance Studies Ph.D.

Theater and Performance Studies Ph.D.


The degree program of Doctor of Philosophy in Theater and Performance Studies is an innovative, interdisciplinary program that offers an international, cross-cultural exploration of theater, performance and the performative. The goal of the program is to produce world-class scholars whose research expands the understanding of theater, performance and performative actions with regard to their historical and cultural significance.

The program is small and highly selective; students enjoy intense personal mentoring in their pursuit of scholarship and professional proficiency. Many applicants to the program receive financial support through the granting of teaching assistantships and fellowships. Faculty publications and professional participation cover a broad array of research areas that enable the mentoring of a diverse range of dissertation projects. Dissertation projects combine original interpretive methodologies derived from critical theories and applied to the study of performance and performative actions. Recent dissertation subjects include digital performance, the costuming of Brazilian popular performances, Chinese and Taiwanese nationalist theater, African American performance and music, contemporary Japanese theater, Korean cinema and performance, Mexicana and Chicana performance, and historical studies of lesbian/feminist and queer performative strategies.

Students are encouraged to study with scholars in other departments in the field of their research interests and to take advantage of the enormous academic and cultural resources available at UCLA that include, among many others: the interdisciplinary Centers for African American Studies, Chicano and Chicana Studies, Asian American Studies and the Study of Women; the Fowler Museum of Cultural History; the Department of World Arts and Cultures; and the UCLA Center for Performance Studies, comprised of faculty across disciplines working in the field of performance. Los Angeles is a multicultural, multi-lingual, international city that offers a wide range of Western and Non-Western artistic activity; and special cultural resources such as the J. Paul Getty Museum and Institutes, the Huntington Library, and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

Upon entering the program, each student is assigned a member of the Ph.D. faculty who will serve as his or her advisor. Students regularly confer with their advisors as needed to discuss curriculum choices, program changes and other concerns.

Assessment of student academic progress in the program is made by the Ph.D. faculty during the final examination week of each quarter. Advisers then notify students of problems, when warranted, in writing and assist in planning solutions.

Major Fields or Subdisciplines
The Ph.D. student in theater and performance studies is expected to be knowledgeable regarding theater history and theory, critical methods, theatrical production and dramatic literature.

Foreign Language Requirement
Mastery of one foreign language approved by the Ph.D. committee is required and must be demonstrated by one of the following methods: (1) completion of a level 5 course or the equivalent (five quarters or three semesters) with a minimum grade of C, in any foreign language, (2) passing a UCLA language examination given by a faculty member in any foreign language department, or (3) passing a departmental language examination given by a member of the department's Graduate Foreign Language Committee. The foreign language requirement may be completed after admission to the Ph.D. program; however, students are encouraged to complete their language requirement prior to admission. Language courses taken toward fulfillment of the language requirement are not counted toward the degree.

Course Requirements
During the first six quarters (two academic years), students must complete a minimum of 12 graduate courses (200- or 500- level) and Theater 220. Theater 216A, 216B, 216C are required. The remaining nine courses are elective graduate courses, seminars, or tutorials. Students are regularly enrolled in one seminar within the department and one beyond the department and no more than two electives may be tutorials. These electives must augment the required courses so as to constitute a definable area of study associated with the dissertation topic. The dissertation is a historical, critical, analytical, or experimental study of a theater or performance studies topic.

First-Year Examination
A screening examination is administered during the winter quarter based on the coursework the student will already have completed.

Results of this examination may require the completion of background courses or result in inability to continue with the program. The exam may be retaken once.

Teaching Experience
Most students will acquire teaching experience over the course of their studies.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations and Advancement to Candidacy
After completion of language and course requirements, students are required to pass a written qualifying examination scheduled for three days followed by one oral examination. Students first constitute an examination committee, which may also serve as the doctoral committee, including the potential dissertation adviser. Students submit a short description of the dissertation project to the Ph.D. faculty for review. Subsequent to this submission, the student, in consultation with the faculty and the potential adviser, constitutes the examination committee, consisting of a minimum of four professors. Typically, the majority of the committee members will be from the student's home department, and one member with complementary research interests will come from beyond the department.

The written examinations concentrate on three subject areas that will inform the dissertation and constitute the main foci of the student's specialization. These areas may be chosen from: a field of critical theory; a historical period; the performance of a genre, or of social or cultural traditions of a given geographical region. The student, together with the examination committee, prepares a bibliography in each of the three fields, covering the leading concepts, methodologies and examples seminal to the field. Along with the bibliographies, the student also composes a dissertation prospectus of approximately 25-30 pages. The prospectus argues for the topic of the dissertation and for the pertinence of the three fields to the area of the dissertation, and concludes in a brief description of the proposed chapters. Both the prospectus and the bibliographies must be approved by the examination committee at least one quarter prior to scheduling the examinations. The examination questions are derived from these materials.

The written examination is a take-home exam consisting of three questions, one pertaining to each list. The writing period will consist of three days. The page limit of the three essays combined should not exceed 30 pages. The completed examination will be distributed to the committee. Students who pass the written examinations submit a departmentally approved nomination of doctoral committee to the Graduate Division for approval. Upon approval, the University Oral Qualifying Examination is scheduled.

This examination focuses on both the written examination and the materials in the prospectus. If the student fails the doctoral examinations, there is one opportunity to retake them.

Students are advanced to candidacy and awarded the Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil.) degree upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Doctoral Dissertation
Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in her or his principal field of study.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)
Not required for all students in the program. The decision as to whether a defense is required is made by the doctoral committee.

The maximum time for completion of degree requirements is 18 quarters, with the following timelines:
From graduate admission to the written and oral qualifying examination: six to nine quarters.
From graduate admission to the approval of the dissertation prospectus: six to nine quarters.
From approval of the dissertation prospectus to the oral qualifying examination: one quarter.
From graduate admission to the award of the degree: 18 quarters.

All Theater, Film and Television degree programs are full-time, daytime programs. The Theater graduate programs have daytime classes and evening production activities. The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television only accepts applicants for admittance for the Fall. The admissions information below is for Fall 2017.

Application Deadline: December 10, 2016

Please complete the following steps:

Step 1: Online

  • Complete the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.
    • Indicate PhD as the degree, and THEATER AND PERFORMANCE STUDIES as the major.
    • Submit the Application and Pay the Application Fee by December 10.
  • Upload UNOFFICIAL copies of all TRANSCRIPTS to the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.
    • Include all Undergraduate and Graduate institutions attended.
    • NOTE: Community College transcripts are not necessary, as the coursework will be reflected on the undergraduate transcript.
    • Enter the Names and Emails of all recommenders into the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.

Step 2: Online & Mail

  • Complete the UCLA Graduate Theater Departmental Online Application.
    • PRINT and MAIL the generated PDF from this application along with any mailed supplemental materials.
  • Upload and Mail the STATEMENT OF PURPOSE.
    • Compose a 1-3 page document giving the faculty a sense of who you are. Please address the following: Why are you interested in the program? What life experiences have contributed to you applying to TFT? What do you hope to achieve by participating in the program? What are your professional goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
  • Upload and Mail a RESUME of training and experience in Theater or other related work.
  • Upload and Mail a copy of the MASTER’S THESIS or a SCHOLARLY RESEARCH PAPER:
    • At least 20 pages which demonstrates your thought process and skills in research and analysis of theater history, literature, or live performance.
    • Welcomed, but not required, are published articles, non-text-based materials, or reviews of creative work.

Step 3: Mail

  • Mail an OFFICIAL copy of TRANSCRIPTS from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended.
    • NOTE: Community College transcripts are not necessary, as the coursework will be reflected on the undergraduate transcript.
    • Please have transcripts sent to the address below or include them in sealed envelopes with the supplemental application packet.
  • Request that all TEST SCORES be sent directly to UCLA.
    • The UCLA Code is 4837 and the Theater Code is 2403.
    • Only test scores taken by December 31, 2016 will be accepted.


Please SEND all applicable materials to:
Graduate Theater Admissions
UCLA Department of Theater
103 East Melnitz Hall, Box 951622
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1622

Application Deadline: December 10, 2016


English Proficiency: Any international applicant whose first language is not English must certify proficiency in English when applying to UCLA, and, if admitted, upon arrival. Such applicants must submit scores received on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as part of their application. The UCLA Code is 4837 and the Theater Code is 2403. Only test scores taken by December 31, 2016 will be accepted. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/english-requirements/

Academic Records: Although the UCLA Graduate Division Application enables applicants to upload an unofficial copy of their academic records, all applicants are required to submit official records from each academic institution attended. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/required-academic-records/.

Proof of Funding for Visa: U.S. immigration law requires that international applicants, if admitted, show documented evidence that sufficient funds to cover all tuition, fees, transportation, and living expenses are available for the first year of their studies at UCLA. This must be proved before a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS2019) for a visa can be issued. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/visa-procedures/

FAFSA: For U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents interested in receiving financial aid in the 2017-2018 year, note that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadline for UCLA is March 2, 2017. Applicants must complete the FAFSA by this date if they want to be eligible for all awards, work-study, and scholarships that UCLA offers. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities. www.financialaid.ucla.edu

DREAM Act: For non-US Citizens or non-Permanent Residents who are approved to pay in-state tuition because they graduated from a high school in California; they will need to complete the California DREAM application by the March 2, 2017 deadline. The DREAM application can be accessed at https://dream.csac.ca.gov. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities. www.financialaid.ucla.edu

Please visit the FAQ page for additional questions, call 310-206-8441, or e-mail theatergrad@tft.ucla.edu. Please do not contact the department to check on your application, as we cannot update you on your application status or materials.

For Prospective Students:

For Current Students:

Theater Counselors: Barrett Korerat and Catherine Hernandez-Shibata

Theater Staff

Theater Faculty