graduates standing in a line

Performance as Public Practice (M.A. in Theatre)



The University of Texas at Austin's Performance as Public Practice program focuses on the historical development, cultural and theoretical contexts, and artistic significance of theatre, dance and performance disciplines and institutions, as well as the interrelationships of these fields and the role of performance in public spheres. The program is highly influenced by interdisciplinary work in performance studies, defining performance in varied and wide cultural contexts. Students are expected to give primary attention to an area of expertise of their choice, while training in the broader theoretical, critical and historical contexts of the field. 

All applicants for admission to the Performance as Public Practice Program must provide evidence of aptitude for and interest in research (either for publication or production), writing and teaching the primary emphases of the program, which focuses heavily on performance as public practice. Admission to the M.A.M.F.A. or Ph.D. Program is based on several criteria.

How to Apply

To apply, go to and create an account and fill out the form. Note: Online requests for recommendations will be activated only after you have completed and paid for your application.

You will be able to choose your Area of Interest on a pull down menu. This will ensure that you are applying to the right program. For example, “M.F.A. in Theatre (Directing),” “M.F.A. in Theatre (Costume Design),” etc.

After completing and paying for your application you will be sent an email (within approximately 48 hours). This email will direct you to a site where you can check your Application Status (using your new EID) and begin to upload your application requirements.

The application for graduate admission is a multi-step process. For detailed instructions, please visit The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School online.

Application Materials

In addition to your application, the following materials are required in order to be considered for admission in the Performance as Public Practice program.

  • Official Transcripts: Applicants must submit transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants to the M.A. program are expected to have completed an undergraduate degree. Previous training and experience other than coursework will be considered. Online instructions for uploading transcripts (PDF format only).
  • Three letters of recommendation: To be most helpful, letters should be written by those qualified to judge the student's work for the Performance as Public Practice program, and should comment specifically on the student's aptitude for advanced work in their areas of interest. Each reference will receive instructions on how to submit his/her letter online to the Graduate School's secured web site. Only one letter is required from each reference.
  • Résumé of your relevant academic, professional, and creative credentials
  • Statement of Purpose: In a two-page statement, indicate specifically how our program might fit your needs and interests. Read the faculty bios and, if possible or appropriate, suggest faculty with whom you might like to work. M.A. applicants should provide a general sense of your area of interest. 
  • Writing Samples: Applicants to the M.A. program should submit one writing sample that demonstrates their ability to conduct research and to write. We prefer samples 5-15 pages in length. For M.A. applicants, we recommend papers written for undergraduate research. Essays written for publication or non-academic settings are also appropriate.
  • Samples of Performance Work or other materials (Optional): Applicants may submit samples of creative, performance or professional work, although the criteria listed above are most pertinent to the program's deliberations. Please limit supplementary materials to your most relevant or current work and limit submission length to 15-20 minutes.

NOTE: GRE scores are no longer required for admission into the Performance as Public Practice program.

Application Deadline - M.A. in Theatre (Performance as Public Practice)

Application deadline for Fall 2024 December 15, 2023


Degree Plans

The Performance as Public Practice Program offers three degree programs: M.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D. 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. Review the M.A. in Theatre with a specialization in performance as public practice program guide.

Sample Curriculum

The M.A. Program requires successful completion of 36 hours of coursework and thesis preparation:

  1. Required Courses (18 credits)
  2. Electives (12 credits, at least 6 of those outside the department)
  3. Thesis Writing and Research Hours (at least 6 credits)

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. Some examples of courses within the program include:

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, the course juxtaposes critical readings from gender and dance studies with the viewing of videos and performance. Throughout students will learn methods for analyzing and writing about performance using rich, descriptive analysis.

Cultural Policy and the Artist

This course assesses how contemporary cultural public policy initiatives have framed artistic practices historically and how, conversely, artists have intervened to inform and/or reshape those efforts. 


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.

Proseminar: Performance as Public Practice 

This seminar introduces a variety of subjects, methods and interpretive approaches within the field of Performance as Public Practice (PPP). The first half of the semester is devoted to disciplinary genealogies, methods and epistemological concerns; the second half focuses on case studies of different methods and theoretical approaches undertaken by the PPP faculty and visiting scholars. This course aims to create a crtically generative space in which we can develop a nuanced understanding of how our own work contributes to and expands the boundaries of this dynamic field. 

Performance as Research

This course examines the relationship between embodied practice, performance and writing as critical methods in performance research and production. We look at numerous cases, written and performed, to consider how to integrate performance practices into research and writing, how to incorporate research into devising and how to write about our own performance work.

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.

Solo Performances 

This course trains artists to develop and produce independent performance works, plays and dances through engagement with methods such as writing original text, adapting narrative for performance, drawing upon political, cultural and social issues, devising movement, working with props and engaging diverse audiences. 

Staging Black Feminisms

This course considers the feminist practices of black women cultural producers including filmmakers, playwrights, visual artists, musicians and performing artists. Besides engaging with primary materials, we draw on black feminist scholarly texts in order to explore such topics as black womanhood, the black female body, black histories, sexuality, politics and aging. We will trace the genealogy of black feminist artistic practices and performances from the 1950s to the present and explore the ways that their work challenges the male gaze, the capitalist market place, heteronormativity and racial hierarchies. 

The Artist as Entrepreneur 

In this course, the focus is on how U.S. artists in all media create value through their work, but also offers a critical inquiry into the rise of entrepreneurship among cultural and arts workers. 

Download the Program Guide:


You may need to install Acrobat Reader to access this document.