The majority of PhD programs in theatre are centered exclusively on the development of scholars. However, a number of programs are centered on the development of scholar directors. Rigorous scholarship is a hallmark of both types. The major difference is the extent to which scholarship is applied to or combined with the preparation of theatrical performances. Choosing one orientation or another involves an educational choice, not a career choice. Graduates of both types of programs have developed careers as scholars, directors, and practitioners of many other theatre specializations.
Fundamentally, a PhD in theatre signifies scholarship s a means for producing scholarly work, as a component of teaching, as an element in the preparation of theatre productions, as a basis for decision making, and so forth. Of course, the PhD is also a credential with practical uses in the job market for college faculty and for other positions that require or respect the degree. It is important to remember that the credential is awarded because an individual has met certain requirements set by scholars and specific standards of scholarship. Therefore, interest in research associated with the theatre is a primary requisite for sustaining the effort necessary to obtain the Ph.D. and to fulfill scholarly promise after it is awarded.
The PhD in theatre has a long and distinguished history in North American higher education. Holders of the PhD have achieved significant success across the entire range of theatre specializations, from musicology, theory, composition, ethnomusicology, to performance.
Selected majors/areas of research for a PhD in Theatre include
Theatre of the Americas - modernist and postmodernist theatre and performance
US Latino Theatre
African American Theatre
Asian American Performance
European Theatre - Greek classical theatre, Shakespeare, neoclassical, modern, Italian Renaissance, and contemporary French theatre, modern and contemporary German theatre
Students in theatre doctoral programs must pass a written and oral qualifying exam and then complete and formally defend a doctoral dissertation based on original research. In general, all PhD programs require that successful candidates for the degree demonstrate:
The ability to conduct independent research at a high level, leading to completion of a dissertation which is defended before a committee of scholars. Because examinations given as part of a PhD curriculum assess expert knowledge, they are created and evaluated by a committee of experts, each of whom holds a PhD degree
Proficiency in the tools necessary to carry out this research, including but not limited to computer skills and bibliographic competence
Mastery of general and specific subject matter in the field of study before a committee of scholars.
Part- and full-time study options, along with various delivery modes - residential programs, distance education programs and online programs - are also available. North American PhD programs in theatre studies welcome foreign students. However, fluency in spoken and written English is critically important.
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