Degree Requirements

Requirements for the Ph.D. in Theatre are as follows; please also consult the English Department requirements for M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D., as these requirements describe the year-by year timetable in very useful detail. ("Degree Programs")

First Year/M.A. Degree

a. To earn the M. A. degree, students must take eight (8) courses made up of the following (3 points unless otherwise indicated), and register for two Residence Units: 

Second and Third Year/M.Phil. Degree

b. To earn the M.Phil. degree, students must take eight (8) courses made up of the following (3 points each unless otherwise indicated), and register for an additional four Residence Units:

No more than three courses per year should be taken through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC) (courses taken through the Consortium must be approved by one of the Co-Chairs).

To receive the M.Phil., and be recommended for candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must pass an oral examination, which typically takes place during the spring term of the third year. Again, the English department page has an extensive and very useful description of the process and nature of the examination.

Oral Examination: The purpose of the examination is at once to lay the broad foundations for dissertation research across related fields and to begin to identify specific questions, methods, and scholarship essential to the dissertation.  In the course of period leading up to the examination, students work closely with their prospective examiners to develop three fields: a major field (which will constitute one hour of the oral examination, and is conducted by two examiners) and two minor fields (one half-hour each in the oral examination, one examiner each). Students typically develop fields covering a substantial body of dramatic literature, as well as substantial knowledge of several fields in the history and theory of theatre and/or performance. Each field is based on a reading list, devised by the student in consultation with the examiner(s) in the field; students meet regularly with their examiners throughout the semester preceding the examination to discuss the list and their orientation toward the fields they are proposing. Three to four weeks prior to the date of the oral, the student will take a take-home written examination in the major field (students are given 8 hours, typically to answer one question drawn from a few alternatives); the major field faculty read the written examination, and upon accepting it, the student is then approved for the oral phase. Fields may be considered in several ways, but in general should accomplish several related goals: provide a platform for future teaching, provide an opportunity to gain basic expertise in the arena of dissertation research, and provide a sense of the subject area, critical perspective, methodological orientation from which the dissertation may emerge. Students are encouraged to consider the examination as an opportunity to develop a range of periods, objects of study, methodologies. (Unlike in the English Department, students are not asked to develop fields that are formally 'related' to one another.) The Orals Proposal is submitted for approval by 1 May of the second year or latest 15 September of the third year. The Oral Examination is normally scheduled to be taken before the end of classes in the spring semester of the third year.

Elements of the Orals Proposal (submitted for approval by 1 May of second year or at latest 15 September of third year; the fields are naturally subject to revision throughout the third year in consultation with your committee)

Distribution Requirements: There are no formal period or geographical distribution requirements for Theatre Ph.D. students, but students are strongly encouraged to consider the nature of the field today, in which a range of objects (drama, theatre, performance), periods, critical orientations are assumed to be within the teaching purview of a successful candidate for a position.

Language Requirements: Theatre Ph.D. students must complete the first language requirement by the end of the M.A. year, and the second language requirement before scheduling their oral examinations. Unlike students in the English Department, Theatre Ph.D. students must attain proficiency in two different languages, and cannot fulfill the requirement by attaining advanced proficiency in only one language (though advanced proficiency is, naturally, encouraged). Students should discuss how they plan to fulfill the language requirement with the co-chairs well in advance.

Teaching Requirement: Students are required to participate in the instructional activities of the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Undergraduate Writing Program. Students who are interested in broadening their teaching apprenticeships are eligible to teach in the Core Program once they have received the M.Phil. Students may also be invited to serve as teaching assistants in the Theatre department at Barnard College, which administers the undergraduate major for Barnard and Columbia; students would, in this case, gain some teaching experience in various aspects of theatre and performance studies.

Successful completion of all M.Phil. requirements and approval by the interdepartmental committee are both conditions of entry into the Ph.D. program.

Fourth to Sixth Year/Ph.D. Degree

Within six months of passing the oral examination, students are required to submit a dissertation prospectus; the prospectus is typically 15-20 pp. in length, and identifies the scholarly context from which the dissertation emerges, suggests its potential significance, and describes how the dissertation will be conducted (the kinds of issues to be addressed, usually broken down into chapters). The prospectus contains a relevant working bibliography. The prospectus should be discussed in some detail with the dissertation sponsor and with members of the committee: the sponsor must be eligible to direct dissertations in the doctoral program in Theatre; other members of the committee may be drawn from the Theatre faculty or from the graduate faculty at large, and may include a member of the Consortium faculty. The student will meet once formally with the entire committee to discuss and approve the prospectus, which must also be approved by the Doctoral Subcommittee co-chairs and the faculty sponsor. Students are strongly encouraged to attend and present at the Theatre Colloquium.

To earn the Ph.D. degree, students must--in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences--write, defend, and deposit a dissertation, the topic and research of which have been approved by the interdepartmental doctoral committee co-chairs and faculty sponsor. Candidates for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees should note that six Residence Units (three years of full-time residence) are required.

Financial Aid

The program provides funding (which include the prevailing stipend and appropriate tuition and health fees) to all M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. students. Support is renewed annually as long as satisfactory progress is maintained, through the sixth year. Students complete an annual progress report which is reviewed by the Committee on Guidance and Evaluation. Teaching is considered an important part of graduate training, and so financial support normally includes four years of teaching apprenticeship. A dissertation fellowship free of teaching obligations is available to qualified students in the fifth or sixth year of study. All students are, additionally, required to seek external fellowships.