Theatre Arts & Performance Studies

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance Studies at Brown University offers a rigorous environment for pursuing doctoral research.

Taking a broad-spectrum approach to the histories, theories, and methods of theatre and performance studies from a global perspective, the Ph.D. program trains doctoral students to use performance as an analytical lens to explore the labor of mimesis in the social.


Brown’s environment is alive with the intersections of performance practice and theory: Ph.D. students benefit from formal and informal cross-currents with:


Brown’s libraries provide exceptional special collections for performance-related research, including:

Open Graduate Education Program

Our students take full advantage of Brown’s unique interdisciplinary opportunities—including the Open Graduate Education Program, which enables doctoral students to apply to pursue a Master’s degree in a secondary field of study at Brown—and gain teaching experience through a variety of opportunities in and beyond the department.

How to Apply


Applications are due January 4, 2024 and must be submitted via the Graduate School’s Online Application portal. You can find detailed instructions about the application process and components on the Graduate Website. For other questions refer to The Graduate School’s application FAQ.

Application Requirements

  • A statement of purpose (also called a personal statement, generally 2-3 pages) that should address your current academic research interests, why you wish to pursue a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies, and how you see your work benefiting from the broader context of the department and Brown as a whole. The most successful personal statements make a compelling case for why your research would best be served by our program given the current composition of our faculty and the resources that are available at Brown. 
  • An academic writing sample (10- 25 pages). This is an especially  important element of the application, so be sure to submit an example of your strongest scholarly writing to date. 
  • Three letters of recommendation. 
  • Transcripts from all academic institutions where you have previously studied (graduate and undergraduate).

International applicants whose native language is not English must also submit an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. 


  • The GRE is no longer required in order to apply for the Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance Studies at Brown.

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Financial Aid

Brown guarantees 6 years of funding for all admitted Ph.D. students, which includes full tuition remission, a generous living stipend, and health insurance. This financial support applies to both domestic and international students admitted to our doctoral program. Funding is provided through a combination of fellowships (two years) and teaching/research assistantships (four years). Our students have also been very successful in securing funding for their studies, as needed, through external and internal fellowships and grants. Further details about financial support is available through Brown’s Graduate School website and the Graduate Student Funding and Support website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Students in our Ph.D. program have many opportunities to gain teaching experience during their time at Brown. Typically students in their second year serve as Teaching Assistants for undergraduate courses in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. More advanced students can develop and teach their own classes. Our students find additional opportunities to hone their pedagogical skills through Brown's Sheridan Center for Teaching and LearningSummer@Brown, the Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows Program, and elsewhere.

As an intentionally small program with an emphasis on intensive mentorship and advising, we accept a cohort of approximately 2 to 3 students per year. Most of our Ph.D. students complete the degree within 5 to 7 years.

We welcome applicants who are interested in all aspects of theatre and performance studies research. The best way to learn about the range of research topics and methods that are being pursued in our program is by looking through the profiles of our current faculty and Ph.D. students.

Yes. We accept students who have obtained Bachelor's degrees as well as students who have previously completed an MA or MFA. Depending on the field of study and with the approval of our graduate faculty, students may receive credit toward the Ph.D. degree for previous graduate coursework completed at other institutions.

Graduates of our PhD program have achieved a stellar placement rate into academic positions. Many have gone on to become leaders in the field, holding tenured or tenure-track positions at Yale, Tufts, NYU, UCLA, Washington University-St. Louis, Colgate, Emerson, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Rhode Island, among other institutions. A recent national study of Theatre and Performance Studies graduate programs showed that Brown was the top program in terms of placement, with 100% of our graduates holding tenure-track positions.


Please do not email the department with technical questions or requests to troubleshoot your online application submission. For questions about the application process (including how to submit TOEFL scores, Letters of Recommendation, and other technical matters), please contact the Graduate School directly at

Program Handbooks