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Programs of Study

MA/PhD in Performance Studies

The PhD in Performance Studies consists of 22 course units. Required courses include PERF_ST 410 Studies in Performance and PERF_ST 518 Problems in Research, PERF-ST 509 Performance and Pedagogy, a dissertation workshop, and least 6 additional courses at the 400 or 500 levels in the Performance Studies Department, including one in ethnographic research methods. 300 level courses specifically designated for (or adapted to) graduate study are also allowable.

During the first year in the program, students complete two milestones: the Graduate Performance and the First Year Examination. Upon completion of these milestones and 9 course units (including PERF_ST 410 and PERF_ST 518), students will be awarded an MA in performance studies at the conclusion of the first year.

PhD, students will also complete a cognate area of 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.

Master of Arts Degree

The MA in performance studies consists of 9 course units, including PERF_ST 410 Studies in Performance and PERF_ST 518 Problems in Research (both fall quarter). Additionally, students take at least 2 courses at the 400 or 500 levels in the Performance Studies Department. Additional courses are selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Graduate level courses are generally at the 400 level or above, with the exception of 300 level courses which are specifically designated for graduate study. All students are also required to present a Graduate Performance and sit for the First Year Examination. The MA degree can only be obtained on the PhD track. Currently, there is no terminal MA application for Performance Studies. 


For Teaching

Graduate students awarded teaching assistantships may have the opportunity to serve as TAs or main instructors of the department’s undergraduate course, PERF_ST 203, Performance, Culture, and Communication. Other graduate students may have the opportunity to assist in the teaching of 216 Performance and Culture PERF_ST 103, Analysis and Performance of Text or other undergraduate courses. 

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’s expectation is that students’ teaching work be comparable to that of 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.