Philosophers of Theatre
The University of Pittsburgh Department of Theatre Arts’ doctoral program is distinguished by an integration of theory with practice, and by attention to theatre as social interaction and historical artifact. At Pitt, we create philosophers and teachers of theatre.
The program places heavy emphasis on developing the teaching skills of its doctoral students. Students are required to assist or independently teach a variety of courses in both the performance track as well as the history/literature/criticism tracks. Regular workshops, teaching colloquia, and classroom visits by senior graduate faculty ensure that students are guided through the teaching process. In addition to hands-on classroom experience, candidates are offered courses in pedagogy to develop teaching praxis. By the end of their Ph.D, candidates will have created not only an extensive teaching portfolio, but also an entire teaching philosophy.
However, a philosopher of theatre—someone who thinks about theatre as a cultural process—cannot perform that thinking isolated from the ways that theatre actually affects audiences. To that end, the program encourages doctoral candidates to combine active theatre work with their intellectual work, often in self-developed projects.
Thus, the department offers a double emphasis: on the one hand, preparation for scholarship, research, and teaching; and on the other, preparation for intensive professional specialization. That specialization comes in the form of a Special Option. Along with their advisor, candidates will outline a program of studies and training to prepare for expertise in a particular field of professional skill. This double objective gives successful PhD candidates a competitive advantage in the profession.
The Doctor of Philosophy program is open to all qualified students who have completed, or will have completed prior to registration, a Master of Arts degree or its equivalent. An MA in theatre arts is not a prerequisite for admission to the program.
Students applying for the PhD program are expected to demonstrate superior writing and research abilities and to have substantial background in dramatic literature, theatre history, and criticism. They must also have a demonstrable interest in, and disposition for, the Special Option with a view toward developing a specialized professional skill.
The University of Pittsburgh requires online applications for graduate programs. Before applying, please review the following list of required materials, as well as the following paragraphs describing admissions procedures for each of our graduate programs. Note that most of these materials must be delivered via the online application site. Any materials not attached via the online application site must be sent directly to the following address:
Graduate Admissions Administrator
University of Pittsburgh
2720 Cathedral of Learning
4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Required Materials for Admission
- A personal statement indicating your reasons for pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh and your academic and professional goals
- Three academic writing samples
- Curriculum vita
- Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work (see Note below)
- Current GRE Scores
- Three letters of recommendation
- Non-US citizens: TOEFL or IELTS scores
- Non-US citizens: International Graduate Student Supplemental Forms Academic Year 2013-2014. (PDF) This form will be requested and required when the departmental admission is recommended.
Note: Applicants should upload copies of their undergraduate transcripts as is required with the online application. All students will be admitted with a transcript contingency in their letter. Certified transcripts and translations of all undergraduate and graduate study will be required at the time of matriculation (upon enrollment). Students will be required to forward official transcripts/translations at the time of matriculation (upon enrollment) to the Dean's office to clear transcript contingencies.
Special Option Program
Concurrent with preparation for scholarship and research in the field, the candidate prepares an additional specialization. It may be in theatre administration, practical theatre (e.g., acting, directing, design, playwriting or dramaturgy), children's theatre, specialized educational skills, or in fields related to theatre. The key to the Special Option is its practicality and relevance to the candidate's professional career goals.
The resources to be used by the candidate in pursuing the Special Option need not be confined to coursework within the department. They embrace in principle a variety of means of study and training in the forms of independent and supervised study, coursework outside the department, and in-training programs that make use of theatrical and institutional resources both in and out of the University. An essential feature of the program is its flexibility, intending to be responsive to the training objective of the individual candidate.
The structuring of each candidate's Special Option Program, the documentation of its progress and results, and the forms and procedures for its evaluation are determined in consultation between candidate and advisor, and are then submitted to the graduate faculty for approval. The nature of the Special Option and the procedures for accomplishing it should be determined no later than the second year of the candidate's residence.
The Special Option Program is an integral part of the candidate's period of residency. The Program is assigned an equitable proportion of credit hours (normally 15 credits) toward the completion of the candidate's residency requirements.
Curriculum (Beyond the Masters Degree)
Required Course Program
- Materials and Methods of Research in Theatre Arts (can be waived)
- Eight additional courses in dramatic literature, theatre history, criticism, performance studies or in a related field
- At least one course in theory (See Section VIII)
Normally at least eight of the 10 required courses will be advanced graduate seminars in the department. The others may be undergraduate (1000 series) or graduate (2000 series) courses listed in any appropriate University department. Courses labeled "research," "directed study" or "independent study" cannot be used to fulfill this requirement, except by approval of the graduate faculty. The student's advisor will regularly monitor selection of courses, and approve the overall sequence chosen.
Requirements for Completion of the Degree
A minimum of three years or six terms of residency is required.
A total of 72 credit hours are required past the BA
Minimum Grade Requirement
Same as for the MA and the PhD programs—students must maintain a B average (3.0 GPA).
Students are required to demonstrate advanced knowledge in one foreign language sufficient to read criticism and drama in the language and sufficient for them to attend a play in the langauge and understand it reasonably well. The language requirement may be fulfilled in four ways:
- Pass a test administered by the identified language department. Testing prodcedures, which are worked out on an individual basis with the foreign language departments at the University, require students to translate portions of critical studies and plays. An auditory compondent is also required.
- Pass the forth semester of a language class with a grade of "B" or better.
- Pass with a grade of "B" or better in an upper division course (1000 series or above) with a significant segment on dramatic literature.
- Qualify out of the language requirement by requesting acceptance of a similar course taken no more than three years prior to the term in which the PhD Comprehensive exam is taken.
Students who enter the PhD program with an MA from another institution must take a written preliminary evaluation exam in theatre history and dramatic literature by the end of their first full year of residence. This exam is six hours long, normally taken in a single day, and requires students to demonstrate their competence in four of the major periods as identified here. Students must choose two periods from each group. Normally it will be taken in the second year of a student's residence.
The comprehensive examination is given in two parts – a written examination and an oral examination. The written portion is a three-day examination in dramatic literature, theatre history, and criticism, theory, and performance studies. The areas to be covered in this examination are determined in consultation with the candidate’s advisor soon after the candidate passes the qualifying exam. The oral examination is scheduled for a later date, after the graduate committee has read the written exam. Students who entered the program with an MA normally take the exam by the end of their third year of residence; those who entered without an MA normally take it by the end of their fourth year.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate and Professional Bulletin outlines the requirements for the final stage of the degree, which is the preparation and defense of a dissertation. This written work, which must embody an extended original investigation of a problem of significance to theatre arts or performance studies, is the capstone to the research program of a student’s training. More information is available at http://www.bulletins.pitt.edu/graduate/index.html. For more information, refer to the Department of Theatre Arts Graduate Handbook.
Application deadline is January 15, 2014.
For inquiries or questions, please email Mary Gerber, Graduate Admissions Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org.