The Performance as Public Practice curriculum includes a variety of core courses as well as electives within and outside the department. Interdisciplinary coursework is encouraged. The program admits approximately five to seven applicants each year and offers three degrees: M.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D.

Degree Plans

Students with only an undergraduate degree must apply to either the M.A. or the M.F.A. degree program; an M.A. or M.F.A. is required for admission directly to the Ph.D. Students who finish the M.A. or the M.F.A. program may apply to continue on to the Ph.D. program; decided on a case-by-case basis. All students in our program take specific core courses, but emphasis is placed on interdisciplinarity by requiring a variety of elective courses within and outside our department and at least one practice-focused course. Students determine their own research foci and goals in collaboration with their advisor and the faculty.  

The M.A. is generally considered a preparatory degree. The two-year program prepares you to move on to a Ph.D. degree program or for certain kinds of professional, artistic, organizational and academic work in the field. The M.A. degree requires 36 credit hours and culminates in a significant, written thesis project.

The M.F.A. is a unique, individually-defined, three-year program geared toward artists (directors, choreographers, performance makers, etc.) or arts organizers who are interested in exploring new methods for integrating research, writing, performance practice and arts policy and for deepening the historical, theoretical, social, political and analytical aspects of their work. The culminating thesis project includes a practical component and written thesis. The M.F.A. degree is a terminal degree that qualifies you to work in a variety of academic, organizational, artistic and professional settings. The M.F.A. degree requires 60 credit hours.

The Ph.D. degree is an advanced, terminal degree that is typically completed in five years (or 10 semesters). The degree qualifies you to teach at the university level or to work in a variety of other academic, organizational, artistic and professional settings. The Ph.D. requires 72 credit hours and the completion of a written dissertation. 

Sample of Curriculum

Performing Black Feminists

This course examines the confluence of art and feminism through an investigation of Black feminist theory and the cultural production of Black women. Students develop their own understanding of a Black feminist aesthetic and apply that aesthetic to the development of performance pieces. The performances will be based on Chamber Theatre adaptions of prose fiction, the use of Jazz Aesthetic and Black feminist theories.

Choreographing Gender, Dancing Desire

The course posits that physical performance, particularly dance, is an especially rich site for the examination of gender, sexuality and embodiment in relation to evolving social and historical contexts. Taking a cross-historical approach and encompassing a wide range of genres including ballet, modern dance, dance-theater, physical theater, roller derby, reality TV, voguing, drag and transgender performance, the course juxtaposes critical readings from gender and dance studies with the viewing of videos and performance.


The class examines the term dramaturgy through multiple theoretical, historical, social and practical perspectives and applies those skills to constructing dramaturgy for the theatre, as well as public culture.

Feminist Theory and Performance

This course examines feminist theory and performance through a predominantly historical lens. Students explore feminist theory and performance as it emerged in the U.S. at the end of the 20th century.


Historiography generally means one of two things: the history of history in both its practices and as a discipline or the writing of history. By the end of the semester students will be able to engage in close and rigorous historiographical analysis that could be applied to a wide range of historical practice.

Reading the Canon: Play Analysis and Practice

Students examine various approaches to reading plays as dramatic texts and as the basis for production, focusing on elements such as structure, character, language, audience, cultural context and larger social significance. The first part of the course focuses on the "canon" of dramatic literature that has dominated classrooms and regional theatre over the last few generations. The second part of the class examines how that canon has been challenged, redefined, broadened, and given renewed significance by recent dramatic literature. The final research project is individually tailored to the student's professional or scholarly interests.

Researching Performance, Performing Research

This course aims first to establish a base in current modes for researching, theorizing and writing about dance including intersections between dance and criticism, semiotics, gender studies, cultural studies, post-colonial-studies, critical race theory, queer theory and ethnography. Next, we will focus on how artist/scholars (and scholar/artists) integrate performance practices into their research and writing, and integrate research and/or writing into their methods and performances.

Research Methods

This course is designed for students to practice knowledge, skills and techniques needed by students to conduct research, to include organization, styles and bibliogrpahic forms.