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Program Descriptions
  • PhD
PhD in Theatre and Drama

UC San Diego Theatre & Dance offers a groundbreaking PhD in Drama and Theatre in conjunction with the Department of Drama at UC Irvine. The joint nature of the PhD program provides an unrivalled diversity of theatre faculty and affiliated faculty between both campuses available for coursework and advising. Within the context of the program’s twin focus on theory and history, an innovative structure permits each student to pursue a custom-designed curriculum that draws from a rich variety of seminars in faculty research areas that include: Theatre of the Americas (modernist and postmodernist theatre and performance; African American theatre and dance; Asian American performance) and European Theatre, as well as Asian Theatre, Gender Studies, Intercultural Theatre, and Critical Theory.

PhD students take seminars at both UC San Diego and UC Irvine and write dissertations under the supervision of faculty at both campuses. In addition, UC San Diego's PhD students have historically received part of their financial support by working on the editorial staff of the internationally renowned theatre journal TheatreForum and by creating publicity materials for productions staged by the department’s top-ranked MFA program. The scholarly, theoretical nature of the doctoral program thus exists alongside the thriving artistic scene of the UC San Diego Theatre District, which includes the La Jolla Playhouse. Students with backgrounds in theatre and interests in history and theory find the breadth of the UC San Diego Theatre & Dance department and the joint nature of the PhD program to be fruitful ground to prepare for a professional career in scholarship.

Financial Support

PhD students are offered a full financial package that covers all university tuition, insurance (health, dental, vision), scholarship grants, and work-study income opportunities. Living expenses and other fees are not typically covered. For a more detailed description of the financial support package for PhD students, download the Financial Package Breakdown.

Faculty Research Areas

TDR featuring Julie Burelle Julie Burelle
PhD UC-San Diego. First Nations Theatre and Dance performance in Canada and America.
Full Bio
  Jim Carmody's Book Jim Carmody
PhD Stanford. Classical and Contemporary French Theatre, History of Mise en Scène.
Full Bio
Marianne's Book Marianne McDonald
PhD UC-Irvine. Ancient Greek and Roman Drama and their Modern Versions, Irish Drama, Japanese Drama
Full Bio
    Jade Powers-Sotomayor
PhD UC-San Diego. Latinx theatre and performance, inter-cultural performance in the Latin Caribbean diaspora.
Full Bio
Emily's Book Emily Roxworthy
PhD Northwestern. Asian American Drama, Intercultural Performance, Political Spectacle, Performance Studies.
Full Bio
  Janet's BookJanet Levarie Smarr
Ph.D. Princeton University. European Renaissance, Italian, Women’s Studies
Full Bio

Other faculty areas of expertise:
Asian Theatre, Gender Studies, Intercultural Theatre, and Critical Theory.

UC Irvine Faculty

Stephen Barker
PhD, University of Arizona; Interim Dean, Claire Trevor School of the Arts: Postmodern Theatre, Beckett, Critical Theory.
Full Bio

  Ketu Katrak
PhD, Bryn Mawr College; Professor: Ancient Sanskrit Theatre, African and Black Diaspora Drama, Feminist Critical Theory, Performance Theory.
Full Bio

Anthony Kubiak
PhD, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Professor: American and Modern Drama, Modern Poetry, Critical Theory, Philosophy.
Full Bio
  Daphne Lei
PhD, Tufts University; Professor and Head of Doctoral Studies: Chinese Opera, Asian and Asian American Theatre, Intercultural and Transnational Theatre, Gender and Performance Theory.
Full Bio
Ian Munro
PhD, Harvard University; Associate Professor: European Drama and Performance, Early Modern Popular Culture, Theatrical Performance of Wit.
Full Bio
  Bryan Reynolds.
PhD, Harvard University; Professor and Head of Doctoral Studies: Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama, Critical Theory, Transversal Poetics, Feminist Theory, Performance Theory, Cultural Studies.
Full Bio


Facts about the UC San Diego/UC Irvine Joint Doctoral Program

Each department selects its own students. Students earn their degrees from the campus to which they are admitted. Each department supports its own students in accordance with applicable departmental and campus financial support policies.
  • Students take a minimum of one graduate seminar per year with a faculty member of the other campus.
  • Students have access to all PhD seminars in both departments.
  • Graduate classes and seminars count toward graduation in both departments.
  • All doctoral committees in each department include a faculty member from the other campus.
  • The dissertation director may be selected, as a result of specific interests and after coursework, from either campus.
  • Both departments offer strongly competitive support packages to qualified students. Support packages may include tuition, fees, and stipend.
  • Students who have advanced to candidacy may have the opportunity to teach undergraduate classes in their research areas.


Program of Study

All students are required to:
  • take an Introduction to Doctoral Studies
  • take a minimum of six seminars in history of drama and theatre
  • take a minimum of four seminars in theory and criticism
  • pass through a sequence of annual exams that focus progress toward degree completion
  • satisfy the second language requirement before the end of the third year
  • complete and defend a dissertation


Course offerings

Students are required to an introduction to doctoral studies plus ten departmental seminars to achieve candidacy. The following doctoral seminars are a sampling of those that have been taught in the past couple years; the syllabi are available for reference here.
  • Introduction to Doctoral Studies (instructor varies)
  • Academic Theatre (Professor Roxworthy)
  • African American Theatre (Professor George-Graves)
  • Black Global Cultural Traffic (Professor George-Graves)
  • Dance Theatre (Professor George-Graves)
  • Documentary Theatre (Professor Roxworthy)
  • Ethnicity and Performativity (Professor George-Graves)
  • Gender and Performance (Professor George-Graves)
  • Madness in Renaissance Culture and Drama (Professor Smarr)
  • Performance and the Digital (Professor Roxworthy)
  • Performance and Feminism (Professor Roxworthy)
  • Practice-as-Research (Professor George-Graves)
  • Radical Dramaturgies (Professor Burelle)
  • Roots of Western Comedy (Professor Smarr)
  • Theatre and Photography (Professor Carmody)
  • Theatre of War (Professor Burelle)
  • The Body and Performance (Professor George-Graves)
  • The Nation Enacted on Imaginary Stages (Professor Burelle)
  • Women in Theatre Before 1700 (Professor Smarr)
Students are also eligible to apply for admission to the Graduate Specialization in Critical Gender Studies where they will take select graduate courses through the Critical Gender Studies Program in addition to their Theatre and Dance graduate seminars. Visit the CGS Program website for more information >>

Theory and Practice

The UC San Diego Theatre & Dance department supports the development of PhD students who consider themselves artists as well as scholars, and, depending on their artistic backgrounds and the consent of the relevant instructors, doctoral students in our program have been able to pursue coursework and extracurricular opportunities that intersect with the MFA areas of directing, acting, dance-theatre, and design. In addition, the PhD program at UC San Diego honors its origins as an MFA Dramaturgy program by offering coursework and opportunities to work as dramaturgs on university and professional productions. At the same time, doctoral students must manage their workloads to ensure that artistic work does not impede their timely progress toward the PhD. Recent examples of these theory-practice intersections include:
  • directing undergraduate theatre productions and graduate studio projects that relate to their dissertation research
  • training as an apprentice acting teacher with the Head of our MFA Acting program
  • training alongside MFA directors and designers in the department’s directing and design seminars
  • serving as assistant directors, actors, fight choreographers, and dramaturgs for our MFA theatre productions
  • serving as dancers and dramaturgs for our MFA dance productions
  • devising and performing in applied theatre outreach to the larger academic community
  • enrolling in scholar-artist coursework such as "Performance as Research” and “Crossing Boundaries”

    Recently Completed Dissertations

    Julie Burelle:
    Encounters on Contested Lands: First Nations Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Quebec

    Grace Jun:
    Moving Hip Hop: Corporeal Performance and the Struggle Over Black Masculinity

    Heather Ramey:
    Performing Black Rock City: Theatre of Affect and Burning Man

    Naysan Mojgani:
    The Performative Image and the Power of the Audience: Shakespeare in the Visual Arts

    Matthieu Chapman:
    The Other “Other”: Anti-Black Racism in Early Modern English Drama

    Laura Brueckner:
    The Master of Ceremonies: Dramaturgies of Power

    Lily Kelting:
    Agrarian Pasts, Utopian Futures: Food, Nostalgia, and the Power of Dreaming in Old Comedy and the New Southern Food Movement

    Jade Y. Power Sotomayor:
    Speaking Bodies: Body Bilinguality and Code-switching in Latina/o Performance

    Raimondo Genna:
    Empty Sky: 9/11 and Performing Regenerative Violence

    Terry Sprague:
    Ambiguous Bodies in Motion: Representations of Female Identity in Contemporary Screendance

    Summer Neilson Moshy:
    The Empty Center: Acting Out Theatric Alliance in Three Texts by Sarah Kane

    Michael Perin Jaros:
    To Have Lived is Not Enough for Them: Performing Irish History in the Twentieth Century

    Heather Lynn Donahoe LaForge:
    Rupturing the stage: Performing Women in Brian Friel's Theatre

    Maiya Murphy:
    In Corporation: Physical Theater, Cognitive Science, and Moving Toward a Paradigmatic Revolution in Epistemology

    Rana Salimi:
    Political Performance of Violence: Palestinian Female Bombers and the Politics of Visual Representation

    Melissa Minniefee:
    Ritual Negotiations: Abjection, Kinship, and (Re)Performance in German-Occupied France and Post-Katrina America

    Jason Dorwart:
    The Incorporeal Corpse: Disability, Liminality, Performance



    Employment Record

    Our graduates have secured academic positions at institutions including: Emory University, Indiana University, Salem State University, San Diego State University, University of Arizona, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, University of California Santa Cruz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of South Dakota, University of Southern California, University of Texas, and Washington University.


    Living in La Jolla and the San Diego Area

    • Renowned regional theatres La Jolla Playhouse and The Old Globe Theatre
    • Lively fringe arts scene including San Diego Rep, Sushi Art, Sixth at Penn, Cygnet, Diversionary, Adams Avenue, and Studio of the Arts
    • Close proximity to Los Angeles and Mexico


    Contact Information

    Department Addresses:

    Department of Theatre & Dance
    University of California, San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive 0344
    La Jolla, CA 92093-0344

    Department of Drama
    University of California, Irvine
    249 Drama
    Irvine, CA 92697-2775

    858.534.1046 (Graduate Admissions)
    858.534.1080 (Fax)

    949.824.6614 (Graduate Admissions)
    949.824.3475 (Fax)


    Admissions and Selection Process

    Applicants must have or must be about to receive a BA (with a minimum GPA of 3.5), MA, or MFA degree prior to applying for admission. Experience in one of the creative activities of theatre (acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting) will enhance chances of admission. While not required for admission, a working knowledge of a second language is highly desirable. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for all those applying to the doctoral program. Applicants must also submit two samples of their critical writing ( e.g. seminar paper or MA thesis chapter ), one of which must deal with an aspect of drama or theatre. Please note that due to the nature of our program, students may enter only in the fall quarter, and we do not accept transfer credits from other programs.

    Students selected for admission will be notified after a complete review of the file and all submitted documents and after a personal or telephone interview. Entrance into the program is highly selective. On average, two students are selected each year.

    To apply online go to our Admissions Page or email Marybeth Ward at meward@ucsd.edu.

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UC San Diego 9500 Gilman Dr. MC0344, La Jolla, CA 92093
Tel: (858) 534-3791   Fax: (858) 534-1080