PhD in Theatre

Specialization in Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, and Dramatic Theory and Criticism

The PhD faculty in Theatre at LSU are committed to providing students with the necessary tools to compete in a rapidly diversifying job market. We focus on honing students’ skills in writing rigorous scholarship, teaching a broad range of theatre classes, and enhancing production experience, especially in the areas of dramaturgy and directing. Our students become nimble and adaptive teachers and scholars, able to occupy positions in professional and/or academic theatre.

Our program’s curriculum provides students with a broad knowledge of theatre historiography, theory, literature, and criticism. In addition, students pursue a minor area of study in a field outside theatre, such as Women’s and Gender Studies, Performance Studies, History, Anthropology, and English. Our faculty balances our program’s generalist foundation with particular expertise in gender and queer studies, critical race theory, African and African diasporic studies, political and social change performance, and sports history. We mentor students as teaching assistants and instructors for classes from Introduction to Theatre, Theatre History, Acting, Directing, and the option to teach Special Topics courses of the student’s choosing in their third or fourth year. We encourage PhD students to participate in productions as actors, directors, playwrights, designers, and/or dramaturgs.

Our program is tailored to suit the needs and goals of each student. Once students choose a major advisor at the end of coursework, they work with that faculty member to ensure they spend the remainder of their time acquiring the necessary experience to prepare them for the position they seek whether inside or outside academia. Our students’ dissertations are similarly crafted towards the audience that student hopes to go on to work with whether academic or professional, or both. Our students go on to become professors at research one and liberal arts institutions, professors at community colleges, teachers in public and private high schools, and dramaturgs and literary managers at professional theatres.

Application Process

  • Deadline for Application Materials is January 15
  • Apply Online at the LSU Office of Graduate Admissions

What's Needed To Apply

  • Online application and $50 application fee
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate (if attended) institutions attended
  • GRE Scores

In addition, applicant should submit the following materials directly to the LSU School of Theatre:

            School of Theatre
            attn: Head of Doctoral Program
            105 Music and Dramatic Arts Building
            LSU
            Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803

  • Current cv
  • Three Letters of Reference
  • Sample of critical writing

Admission Requirements (see Graduate Catalog for full details):

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. Institution or the equivalent from a foreign institution
  • A GPA of at least 3.00 (A=4.00) on all undergraduate work (or at least half-degree requirement) and a 3.00 GPA or better on any graduate work already completed; international applicants must have at least a 3.00 GPA, or equivalent, on all college-level work previously attempted
  • Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination or GRE (in some cases, a high GRE may be used to compensate for a low GPA)
    The School of Theatre expects a combined score of 1000 on the GRE, though GPA and other education-related or professional factors may compensate for a lower score.

Financial Assistance

 We strive to offer admitted students a teaching assistantship, which includes a tuition waiver, and a 20 hour a week work assignment. We typically offer TAships for four years of study. The School of Theatre does not offer fellowships. 

Program of Study

 The PhD in Theatre at LSU is designed as a four-year program (five-year for MA/PhDs). Reading knowledge in a foreign language is required. Students achieve candidacy upon completion of general exams and prospectus, usually in the spring of their third year.

  • Minimum of 81 credit hours past the B.A. (excluding a minimum of 9 dissertation hours); an M.A. or M.F.A. can count for up to 30 hours
  • 9-12 credit hours in minor
  • 3 credit hours outside of major and minor (7000) level
  • 3 credit hours in THTR 7926 or other non-Western theatre, art or culture
  • 3 credit hours in THTR 7900, Introduction to Graduate Studies
  • 6 credit hours in theory sequence (THTR 7924 and THTR 7925)
  • 15 hours in literature and history (THTR 7901, THTR 7902, THTR 7903, THTR 7904, THTR 7912, THTR 7913, THTR 7914)
  • 3 credit hours in THTR 7920, Black Drama of the Diaspora
  • 3 credit hours in THTR 7923 or other Women’s and Gender Studies course

  • 3 credit hours of Electives
  • 3 credit hours in a pedagogy-focused course
  • 9 credit hours for dissertation (THTR 9000)

All courses should be taken on the 7000 level. On occasion, exceptions can be made by graduate advisor. Should you take a 4000-level course, the instructor must have graduate faculty status.

Progression Toward Degree

First Year Diagnostic Exam

During orientation week in the fall, new doctoral students will sit for a diagnostic exam focusing on theatre history.  Results of this exam will aid in establishing the students’ programs of study.  Students who need to bolster their background may be required to audit the sequence of history courses for undergraduate majors.

Annual Reviews

During orientation week every fall, all in-residence PhD students are required to meet with the PhD faculty to review the milestones from the previous academic year, and set goals for the upcoming academic year in order to ensure timely progression of all students toward their degree.

Committee Selection

By the conclusion of the student’s required coursework, students should select a major advisor and minor professor in order to begin preparing for the general exam process.

General Exams

General exams should be taken in the spring semester of the third year (fourth year for MA/ PhDs)

  • Sit-down exams given in 2nd week of classes, followed by oral defense of answers with PhD faculty. Note: failure requires retaking the exams after a 4 week break
  • The portfolio should be completed by 6th week of classes and submitted to the PhD faculty via email.
  • The take-home essay should be completed by 8th week. Normally, this is a research question arranged by the student’s major advisor by the 6th week and answered by the student in the form of a 15-page response, complete with bibliography. Ideally, the essay assists the student in constructing a dissertation prospectus. The major advisor approves this essay.
  • The prospectus defense with the student’s dissertation committee (i.e., major professor, minor professor, at least one other Theatre professor, and the dean’s representative) should occur by the 14th week. A General Exam Defense form must be filed with the Graduate School at least three weeks prior to the defense date. The prospectus itself must be circulated to the committee at least two weeks prior to the defense.

All degree requirements, save for defending the dissertation, need to be satisfied before the start of the 4th year in order to receive 4th year of funding (or 5th year for MA/PhDs).

Additional details on the general exam process, courses offered, and other details about the program can be found in the School of Theatre’s Graduate Student Handbook.