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Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. is an academic degree, but students must demonstrate competence in at least 1 production area.

To be admitted, a student ordinarily is expected to have a Graduate Record Examination score of at least 600 (verbal), 500 (quantitative), and 4.5 (analytical writing). The applicant also must have a grade-point average of at least 3.2 for undergraduate and at least 3.5 for graduate work, and a master’s degree acceptable to the graduate faculty. Deficiencies in background may require make-up work.

Ph.D. Degree in Theatre

Applicants must hold the M.A. or M.F.A. in theatre or a related field. Make-up work normally does not count toward the Ph.D. In extraordinary circumstances, the faculty may award credit toward the Ph.D. for a limited amount of M.A. or Ph.D. course work completed elsewhere.

Normally the Ph.D. requires 60 hours not including FLORS requirements. All courses must be chosen in consultation with an adviser.

Core Requirements

12 hours of core courses are required. In consultation with an adviser, students choose from departmental courses in theatre history, dramatic literature, theory, and criticism.

Elective Requirements

9 hours of electives are required. Elective courses focus on the academic study of theatre/performance history, theory, and related methodologies. Courses are selected with a graduate adviser to reflect the student’s special interest. Some courses may be taken outside theatre, for example in film and media studies, English, American studies, African and African-American studies, and history.

Secondary Field Requirements

Students choose 9 hours at the graduate level from outside the department to assist them in writing the dissertation. Courses are related to the student’s proposed specialization. (See examples under Elective Requirements.)

Production Courses

6 hours of production courses are required. To become competent artists as well as developing research scholars, students choose a sequence of graduate courses in either scenography or directing.

Foreign Language or Other Research Skills Requirement

The student must demonstrate

  1. Proficiency in 1 foreign language or
  2. Competence in 2 foreign languages.

For 1 of the languages under the second option, the student may substitute a specific skill pertinent to the specialty (e.g., computer language, American Sign Language).

Note: Responsible scholarship requirements were approved after this catalog was finalized. Contact your department or program for more information about this requirement for doctoral students.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination (6 credit hours) is an essential element of the doctoral program, providing an opportunity for students to focus and consolidate the diverse strands of their graduate course work, to demonstrate competence for teaching in particular subject areas, and to establish a strong foundation for moving on to the dissertation. It consists of 3 parts:

  1. A written examination, which covers 4 or 5 areas of expertise. Ordinarily, each area corresponds to a member of the student’s committee.
  2. Submission of 2 publishable papers of article length (5,000 to 8,000 words) that demonstrate the student’s ability to research and write original scholarship at a level appropriate to the field. Publishable papers may be revised versions of papers submitted in KU courses. Publishable papers must be submitted on the first day of the written examination.
  3. An oral examination, given 2 to 4 weeks after the written examination. The oral examination lasts about 90 minutes and may revisit material covered in the written examination, the publishable papers, and/or other material as deemed appropriate by the committee. While preparing for the examination, students may enroll twice in THR 998 Investigation and Conference (for Doctoral Students).


18 hours of dissertation credit are required. The dissertation is expected to take the form of a book-length scholarly study that shows the results of original research and scholarly creativity. After its completion, an oral defense must be held no less than 4 weeks before the graduation deadline. The committee consists of 1 chair, 3 departmental members, and an outside member.

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