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Programs of Study

Master of Arts Degree

The MA year consists of 9 course units: 4 required courses in performance studies as well as 5 elective courses chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Students are required to take at least 2 courses at the 400 or 500 level in the history of performance traditions, critical theory, media performance, cultural studies and/or fieldwork; PERF ST 410 Studies in Performance; and PERF ST 518 Problems in Research.

MA students must present a graduate recital. Students must fulfill a comprehensive during the final quarter of course work.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Students must complete a minimum of six full quarters of work beyond the MA degree, including PERF ST 410 Studies in Performance, PERF-ST 515 Performance and Pedagogy, PERF- ST 518 Problems in Research, and at least 2 courses at the 400 or 500 levels in the Performance Studies Department, including one in ethnographic research methods. Additional courses are selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Doctoral students must present a graduate recital (unless they have already done so as MA students in the department).

Students are required to study in one or two areas outside of the department that relate to their program of studies and proposed dissertation topic. They must also fulfill a foreign language requirement demonstrating reading competency and satisfactorily complete a Ph.D. qualifying examination and a dissertation.


For Teaching

Graduate students awarded teaching assistantships may have the opportunity to teach in the department’s introductory course, Performance, Culture, and Communication. Other graduate students may have the opportunity to assist in the teaching of 216 Performance and Culture or other undergraduate courses. Students who have completed their coursework and passed the qualifying examinations may also have the opportunity to teach one of the department’s 200-level classes.

Teaching assistants are mentored by department faculty. Additionally, training for teaching assistants is available through Northwestern University’s Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, which offers consultation, workshops, and conferences specifically geared toward graduate student teaching assistants.

Teaching is an essential element of the education and training experience of PhD students at Northwestern. The Graduate School requires that all PhD students serve in some instructional capacity for at least one academic quarter during their graduate education at Northwestern. This teaching requirement is an integral aspect of professional development. The Graduate School expectation is that students’ teaching work be comparable to other students within their program, and that teaching demands are as similar as possible across academic programs.

For Performing + Directing

Students wishing directing experience may petition to direct a departmental performance hour. Students wishing performance opportunities of an extracurricular nature are able to audition for any productions taking place on campus, including those produced by the Performance Studies or Theatre Departments or those produced independently.