Program of Study | Ph.D. in Performance Studies

Program Requirements

Requirements Overview

Requirements Overview

In their first 5 semesters of study, students are required to enroll in at least 12 units each semester and to complete successfully a minimum of 12 courses and the Colloquia. In the 6th through 12th semesters, students will devote their time primarily to independent research and writing for the dissertation. All courses must be taken for letter grades, you must earn at least a B in each, and any Incomplete grades must be successfully made-up as soon as possible and always prior to applying for the Qualifying Exam (QE) in the 6th semester.

The following is an overview of requirements to be fulfilled during the student’s first five semesters of study. Each section is described in greater detail below.

Core Colloquia

3 courses (2 units each)

Must be taken in the first and second years in the program

  • 200A Introductory Colloquium — Required in 1st Fall
  • 200B Research Colloquium — Required in 1st Spring 
  • 200B Research Colloquium — Also required in the 2nd Spring 

Core Seminars

4 courses (4 units each)

Must be taken in the first and second years in the program

  • 201A Performance Theory: Key Topics — Required in 1st Fall
  • 201B Performance Theory: Enduring Debates — Required in 1st Spring
  • 202 Methodologies in Performance Studies — 202 & 203 are offered in alternate years  
  • 203 Performance Practicum:  Bodies, Space, and Time — 202 & 203 are offered in alternate years

Performance Studies Electives

2 different Theater 266 seminars (4 units each)

To be taken in the first five semesters in the program

Complete at least 2 graduate seminars offered by the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. Only Theater 266, not Theater 299, may fulfill this requirement and all electives must be discussed with the Head Graduate Advisor and approved before the start of each semester.

Additional Electives

6 additional graduate seminars (4 units each)

To be taken in the first 5 semesters in the program

Complete at least 6 additional graduate seminars (200 level) offered by any department at UC Berkeley, may include additional Theater 266 seminars. All electives must be discussed with the Head Graduate Advisor and approved before the start of each semester.

Pedagogy Course

To be completed in the first semester in the program. 

To prepare for appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), students are required to take Theater 375 in Fall of the first year in our program. This course is only offered on an S/U basis, so no letter grade is needed. 

Core Colloquia

Core Colloquia

Theater 200A

Introductory Colloquium on Interdisciplinary Research in Performance Studies — 2 units

This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the research resources of the University, to the methodologies and research interests of the faculty affiliated with the Ph.D. program, to the demands of a professional academic career, and to trends and developments in theater, dance, and performance studies. Offered Fall semester.

Theater 200B

Research Colloquium (for both first and second year students) — 2 units

This course is designed to provide an opportunity for graduate students to work with one another to advance their individual research projects and present their ongoing work. Offered Spring semester.

Core Graduate Seminars

Core Graduate Seminars

Theater 201A

Performance Theory: Key Topics — 4 units

Part one of a two-semester core sequence on performance theory, required of first-year Performance Studies Ph.D. students. The course examines key issues and key words in performance studies, from the field's emergence in the 1970s and 1980s to ongoing contemporary debates. Precise topics will vary by instructor, but may include theoretical investigations of corporeality; power, colonialism, and decoloniality; representation, mimesis, and mimicry; spectatorship, audience, and publics; performativity and more. Offered Fall semester.

Theater 201B

Performance Theory: Enduring Debates — 4 units

Part two of a two-semester core sequence on performance theory, required of first-year Performance Studies Ph.D. students. The course examines key issues and key words in performance studies, from the field's emergence in the 1970s and 1980s to ongoing contemporary debates. Precise topics will vary by instructor, but may include theoretical investigations of space; liveness, media, and presence; affect; economies; activism and politics; and more. Offered Spring semester.

Theater 202

Methodologies in Performance Studies — 4 units

The study of different approaches and contemporary methodologies for analyzing performances of various kinds within their cultural and historical context. Specific methodologies can include archival research, field methods, etc. The specific focus in any one course is contingent upon the focus of the instructor.  

Theater 203

Performance Practicum: Bodies, Space, and Time — 4 units

Students in this course will engage in performance practice as: epistemology, methodology, and mode of research; explore the relationship between bodies, spaces, and temporality as a fundamental aspect of performance; and understand “performance as research” in Performance Studies as a field. 

Elective Seminars

Elective Seminars

8 required, at least 2 must be Theater 266 classes

Students in their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd years will meet with the Head Graduate Advisor prior to the start of each semester to discuss academic progress and receive approval for appropriate electives. Electives are here defined as graduate seminars or upper-division undergraduate courses that are taught at UC Berkeley and are recommended and approved by the Head Graduate Advisor for the curriculum of the individual student. In order for upper-division undergrad courses (no more than 3) to be approved as electives, both the Professor and the Head Graduate Advisor must approve a plan to do additional work at the graduate level. Students may also take graduate Special or Independent Study courses (for example: Theater 299) as electives, and one of these courses may be geared toward the preparation of an examination field; however, all Special or Independent Study courses to be used as electives must include a formal seminar paper and must be pre-approved by the Head Graduate Advisor. Please use this form.

Performance Studies graduate students may sometimes earn 1 or 2 two elective credits for being the primary leader of a performance piece in the TDPS season, for example directing or co-directing a workshop production or being the lead choreographer of a dance in the Berkeley Dance Project (BDP). In these instances, graduate students may supplement participation with a critical or historical essay in conjunction with the piece, or develop another adjacent project that advances the graduate student’s research and artistic profile. Upon approval of this supplementary work by the Head Graduate Advisor as a Theater 299 project, students may receive elective credit for serving in these roles.

Pedagogy Course

Pedagogy Courses

To prepare for appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), students are required to take Theater 375, a pedagogy course for Reading and Composition. Though taking Theater 375 during the first semester as a GSI is allowed by Grad Division, we have found it much more valuable and productive for students to take the course prior to teaching for the first time and so require our students to complete the course in the first semester in our program. GSIs for TDPS also enroll each semester in Theater 300 (4 units, S/U) with their teaching supervisor.

Performance Practice Opportunities

Performance Practice Opportunities

The doctoral program is designed to enable graduate students to become competitive in an academic job market and is therefore centered on academic reading, writing, and research. We invite students to participate in performance practice to the degree that it advances their profiles as emerging scholars in performance studies. Our program is not intended to train students in performance practice, therefore we recommend that students who wish to cultivate their artistic work seek out opportunities in the robust artistic communities in the wider Bay Area. That said, graduate students who come with extensive artistic experience and whose performance work coincides with their research have some opportunities to maintain their skills as artists in the Department.  

Any student interested in pursuing production work in the form of directing or choreographing as part of our production curriculum must first secure the approval of the Head Graduate Advisor (and the dissertation advisor if the student is ABD) before submitting any proposals. Because such production work requires a very significant time commitment, it is supported by the program only when the student is exceeding expectations in terms of progress towards the Ph.D. degree and when the proposed project bears a direct relationship to the specific program of study. The advisor(s) will take into account the applicant’s whole performance in the program, including outcomes of annual reviews, QE reports, and other documented evidence of their academic performance in the program. Endorsement of the project by the advisor(s) is a crucial part of the assessment process, but not definitive. The process of evaluation should be consultative with the student and advisor(s), as well as potentially other faculty and staff. The process should be as transparent and constructive as possible, so that no matter what the outcome, the evaluation itself can be helpful for the student in terms of achieving their degree objectives.

  • All graduate students wishing to serve as director or choreographer must then solicit the participation of a TDPS faculty production advisor. We require that you discuss your project with your advisor to assist you in the development of the proposal prior to its submission and explain that the advisor is expected to be involved in the production process. Please note that the faculty advisor will act as the instructor of record for any undergraduates enrolled in the project.
  • Additionally, in preparation for a Berkeley Dance Project (BDP) proposal, completion of an undergraduate choreography (146A or 146B) course is required. For a Workshop, coursework in Directing (162 or 163, or the equivalent) is preferred but not required.
  • Projects may be undertaken in either the Fall or Spring semester; however, due to scheduling, project proposals must usually be submitted in early March of the prior academic year, much sooner for BDP proposals. Please see Avy Valladares for an application and information about deadlines.  

Production and practice opportunities fall into two categories:


Performance focused, minimal technical and staff support. Undergraduates may be cast. Three weeks of rehearsal on weekdays, 20 hours per week, one day of prep in the space, two performances, Wednesday and Thursday at 7PM. Performed content should run under one hour. There are 2 slots per semester, for which graduate students and undergraduates may apply the prior spring.

Berkeley Dance Project

Graduate students with significant training and experience in choreography may be eligible to seek participation in Berkeley Dance Project (BDP). Interested students should seek guidance from the HGA and the Chair of the Season Planning Committee. Note that programming for BDP requires a minimum of 24 months advanced application.

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Opportunities in Teaching and Research

Preparation for careers in university teaching and research will include:

  1. Opportunities for Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) teaching, which will take place in each instance under the guidance of a faculty member who will provide the student with appropriate preparation, observation, and consultation as a 300-level course. GSIs complete a pedagogy course prior to teaching and then take a 300-level course each time they teach. Please see Graduate Student Employment for additional information.
  2. Opportunities for research assistantships, which will involve the student in a scholarly project on which a chosen Research Mentor is working. These assistantships will provide the student with “hands-on” training in the conduct of professional scholarship and offer unique opportunities to participate in research conducted at the highest scholarly level.

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The Academic Review Process

Reporting on one’s research progress is a routine aspect of academic life for all professors. The Graduate Program in Performance Studies seeks to cultivate this skill early in the training process. Not only can such reports enhance the research process by prompting a scholar to articulate and refine an emerging vision, but these reports also provide faculty supervisors a focused opportunity to assess student development and to provide feedback and advice. The Ph.D. in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley attributes its highly successful completion and placement rate in part to a long-standing tradition of having students submit annual reports. In the first and second years of study, students submit in the spring semester a narrative report about developing research interests and progress to date. Colloquium (Theater 200B) in the spring semester is dedicated in part to the composition of these reports. Students who have advanced to candidacy also submit an annual report, as described below.

1st and 2nd Year Reviews

First Year Students

Due by noon on the Thursday prior to Spring Break

During the spring semester of the first year of study, each student will present the Head Graduate Advisor with a brief statement of academic progress. This statement (no more than 5 pages, single spaced) should: a) describe how the student has fared in the course of the current year, b) begin to define an area of research, and c) articulate plans to develop that research into a dissertation specialization during the second year, identifying potential fields of specialization.

Second Year Students

Due by noon on the Thursday prior to Spring Break

During the spring semester, each second year student will provide the Head Graduate Advisor with a somewhat longer statement (6-8 pages, single spaced ) that identifies their progress toward the dissertation. The student should identify: a) the principal field of research, and perhaps major books/studies in the field; b) the specific project the student is thinking about and what research methods are likely be required; c) possible areas of specialization for the qualifying examination; d) a possible dissertation director and committee members, to the extent possible at this time; and e) discuss specific plans for the following year. This is not intended to be a dissertation prospectus. However, second year reports are intended to help ensure the student will be ready to craft a dissertation prospectus the following year. Sketching out a possible trajectory for the dissertation project is an important threshold and a crucial preliminary step towards formulating the 3rd year exams. Articulating a project for the first time can feel somewhat artificial, even daunting. That’s natural. A bit like the experience of an actor going ‘off book’ for the first time. Consider this report a rehearsal, and as with any production, there will be many, many, more rehearsals to follow.

These reports are due by noon on the Thursday before Spring Break. Please save in Drive and share with the GSAO, making sure to send the email notification. The Executive Committee will then use these reports and any supporting material in the student’s file to conduct a review. The committee will make specific recommendations to the Head Graduate Advisor who will convey this information to the student in writing as well as in a meeting.

Doctoral Candidacy Review

Doctoral Candidacy Review

In the fall semester of each year, all students who have advanced to candidacy will complete a brief report on the status of their research, including a summary of the dissertation research and writing completed to date, a plan and schedule for completion, and a list of recent professional accomplishments such as conference presentations, publications, and awards or grants received. The report is quite different from first and second year reports, in as much as it is more akin to a curriculum vitae of the past year’s accomplishments rather than a narrative of evolving research. Please use the Doctoral Candidacy Review form available in CalCentral under Submit a Form. 

In order to make this process as meaningful as possible, the student should prepare a first draft of the report by the end of the fall semester and then consult with the Dissertation Director and at least one other committee member, editing the document as necessary and submitting it through the on-line process to the Dissertation Director by Feb 1. Please note that after answering the questions in the Doctoral Candidacy Review, the student must click Submit and then notify the Dissertation Director that the report is ready for comment.

The Dissertation Chair will then consult with the other committee members in person or by email, add her/his response to the on-line document, and click Submit to send the form to the Graduate Division by the end of February.

The student will prepare a response to the faculty comments and save both the full report and follow-up response in Drive, sharing the file with the GSAO and clicking yes to send the email notification. This is due by noon on the Thursday prior to Spring Break.

The Executive Committee will meet to discuss progress and the HGA will prepare written feedback for each student. While the Executive Committee will defer to the Dissertation Chair to monitor and comment upon the content of the dissertation, the Executive Committee will comment on: a) timely progress towards completion, and b) ensuring that candidates are developing the right profile for successful job placement. Are the timelines for completion feasible and has there been appropriate progress since the last report was filed? If a report were to be deemed unsatisfactory, the Head Graduate Advisor would immediately consult with the student’s Dissertation Chair and/or Committee, making sure lines of communication are open. Faculty are committed to working collaboratively to help each student achieve their goals.

Although reviews are intended to monitor and support each student’s progress, it is the responsibility of the faculty to recognize when students are not making adequate progress toward the degree and to act accordingly, either by recommending an alternate agenda, or by initiating the procedure to place the student on Academic Probation as described in the Guide to Graduate Policy.

Academic Progress and Probation

Academic Progress and Probation

Academic Probation is not common in our program, and it should never come as a surprise. It is intended to provide a student whose performance is less than satisfactory with a period in which to correct identified deficiencies and to raise his or her performance to a level consistent with the minimum standards. Students on probationary status may register and enroll, but they may not hold academic appointments, receive graduate fellowships, or be awarded advanced degrees.

There are two types of probation:

  • GPA below 3.0: Graduate students will be placed on academic probation (or in lapsed status if ABD) by the Dean of the Graduate Division if their GPA falls below 3.0.
  • Insufficient Progress: The Performance Studies Executive Committee may recommend that the Dean place a student on probation (or in lapsed status if ABD) if a student is failing to make normal progress toward the degree.

Probationary Period

The probationary period is normally for one semester, during which the student is expected to remove academic deficiencies. If at the end of the probationary period the student has failed to do so, the Head Graduate Adviser may recommend an extension of academic probation if warranted or ask the Dean of the Graduate Division to dismiss the student.


To pursue an appeal, students must follow the Graduate Appeal Procedure, which is available from the Graduate Degrees Office and on the Graduate Division website. Students initiate an appeal by writing to the Head Graduate Advisor within 30 calendar days of being put on academic probation. Students are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of the Ombuds for Students and may also consult with the Assistant Dean for Degrees. If the student wants to appeal the outcome of this process, then, within 15 calendar days of receiving notification from the program, the student may appeal to the Graduate Division.

The Graduate Appeal Procedure Form (PDF) is available from the Graduate Division’s Degrees Office and on the Graduate Division website.

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The Qualifying Examination Process

The Graduate Group views the comprehensive Qualifying Examination not as a one-time hurdle, but as the penultimate step of an extended process of deliberation and consultation, the ultimate purpose of which is the student’s successful completion of her/his dissertation.

The Four-Step Examination Process

The Four-Step Examination Process

  1. By the end of their second year, the student will have identified three areas of concentration that they should master for the Qualifying Examination, usually in consultation with several members of the faculty. These areas will be identified to the Executive Committee as part of the second-year review process. The student will be encouraged to include one area (e.g. anthropology, history, music, and so on) that falls outside traditional theater/dance/performance studies. The student is encouraged to have identified a potential Dissertation Director and at least one other potential Dissertation Committee member at the time of the second year review, with the understanding that the fields may undergo significant revision or change in the course of the third year.

    The Qualifying Examination committee which administers the written and oral exams is comprised of four members; at least two must be Core Members of the Graduate Group in Performance Studies (one will be the QE Chair, at least one Core member must be from TDPS) and one must be designated as the Academic Senate Representative.  The ASR must be a member of the UCB Academic Senate.  Customarily, one of the Core members of the exam committee will later serve as the Dissertation Director and this person may not also serve as the QE Chair. (The membership of the Dissertation Committee is not restricted to the members of the Qualifying Examination committee. A student may wish to form a Dissertation Committee that includes a member or members who were not part of the Qualifying Examination committee, but the Dissertation Committee must also always have a “majority” of members (2/3, 2/4 or 3/5) from the PS Core.) The QE Chair does not usually direct one of the exam fields, but serves in a more administrative role.

  2. In consultation with the potential Dissertation Director and QE committee members, the student will develop reading lists in three concentrations; typically, three committee members oversee the student’s development of the three reading lists and evaluate their performance on that part of the examination; in some cases, field exams may be co-chaired. Faculty members may, as part of the student’s preparation, invite the student to write a brief statement outlining the field, or a “review of the literature” statement, or in other ways (regular meetings, reading journal, etc.) assist the student in developing a self-conscious mastery of the field of concentration. The potential dissertation chair may, of course, be the examiner in one of these fields. The finalized reading lists should be the result of a longer process of reading and writing throughout the year (rather than the start of a process of reading and writing). By enforcing clarity and rigor up to this point, everyone will have a more satisfying and less stressful exam experience. The field preparation should be conducted as a credit-worthy course of study, meeting, note-taking, annotated bibliography and/or other writing with the examiner. (For committee members outside the Grad Group, please show them this document so that they are aware of the requirements and calendar.) For each field, this can be done as Theater 602 Doctoral Study (taken S/U), as 299 Special Study, or as part of a course taken with the professor. Note: If a Theater 299 course is ALSO to count as an additional elective seminar, then the graduate student needs to take the class for a letter grade and produce a research paper worthy of a four-unit graduate seminar; however, the central question of the final seminar essay must be different from the central questions that the field examiner asks in the written portion of the qualifying exam. Use of one such Theater 299 class as an additional elective seminar must be pre-approved by the HGA. See the GSAO for the application form. NOTE: The writing of the prospectus cannot count as an elective.

  3. By the end of the third year, the student must take the Qualifying Examination demonstrating her/his knowledge in three selected areas that contextualize the dissertation. Please note that all Incomplete grades must be satisfactorily completed and removed from the transcript prior to applying for the QE. The application for the Qualifying Examination is found on your CalCentral page under “Higher Degree Committees Form” and must be submitted 6 weeks before the oral exam; at the same time, the student should distribute a working draft of their prospectus to each member of the QE committee along with reading lists for each field. (See the “Dissertation Process, Prospectus & 5th Yr Presentation” tab for additional information about the Prospectus.) The written portion of the qualifying exam takes place about three weeks prior to the scheduled oral exam, usually over a long weekend in late March or early April from 10am Friday to 6pm the following Monday. Each field examiner sends 2 to 3 possible questions for a 10 to 12 page double-spaced essay to the QE chair and the GSAO at least 48 hours in advance of the start of the exam. The chair then reviews the exam questions and the GSAO formats and sends the exam to the student at 10am on the selected Friday. The student writes three “open book” essays over the course of three and a half days, returning the completed exam, the original essay questions, and the reading lists by email to the entire QE committee and the GSAO by 6pm the following Monday. Students should make sure that every committee member understands the process for sending essay questions and has the contact information for the QE Committee and for Avy Valladares, the Graduate Student Affairs Officer.

    The written exam must be passed prior to taking the oral exam. If the student fails to pass the written exam, a second and final attempt may be scheduled after consultation with the Head Graduate Advisor and the QE Committee. The second attempt must take place before the end of the following semester and continuation in the program will depend on passing the exam.

  4. An oral exam follows the written exam, usually in late April or early May. All committee members receive copies of all three written essays from the student, along with the exam questions and the reading lists for each field. Each committee member will send a confidential response to the QE chair who will confirm the student’s readiness to take the oral exam and alert the student to any concerns expressed by their examiners. Confidential exchange between committee members and the orals chair should be copied to the GSAO. Three hours should be allowed for the oral exam (to which students may not bring notes). The field examiners usually take a few minutes to summarize their assessments of the written exams and discuss what they’d like to see addressed in the oral before calling the student in for the exam. Each field normally receives 20 minutes of questioning, with the fourth member invited to ask a question at the end. The student then adjourns while the committee decides whether or not the student has passed the exam and discusses the prospectus. The student then returns to talk about the oral and get feedback on the prospectus. The Examining Committee will evaluate the student’s preparation in the three fields of concentration, and consider the potential success of the proposed dissertation work. According to University policy, the Qualifying Examination is not to be a dissertation examination, but must focus on the student’s preparation in the three examination fields. Assuming that the student passes the examination, the committee is then encouraged to use the remaining time for an open discussion of the student’s plans for the dissertation. The student is encouraged to take lots of notes during this discussion to faciltate editing the Prospectus over the summer.  Upon passing the Qualifying Examination, the student can be Advanced to Candidacy. The Application for Candidacy is found on your CalCentral page under “Higher Degree Committees Form” and should be submitted very soon after the QE and at least by the end of May. Failure to do so may affect funding in the 4th year. Please note: Each student will be charged for this application. $90 in 2018.

    If the student fails the oral exam, the QE Committee may recommend a second and final attempt. At least three months must pass between the two attempts, and the student’s eligibility to take the QE lasts for only 18 months from the time of the original approval of the QE application according to Graduate Division policy. Continuation in the program is dependent on passing this exam.

Qualifying Examination Calendar (for the Third Year)

Qualifying Examination Calendar (for the Third Year)

We realize that each student enters the third-year with slightly different logistical constraints. Some of you may have finished your coursework while others will need to fulfill an elective or two in Fall of the 3rd year. All of you will still be responsible for three special fields (i.e. selecting field examiners, developing reading lists, and agreeing on a course of study together) and for the drafting of a preliminary prospectus. Please refer to the QE Process section above for important details. What follows is an ideal calendar for exam preparation. If you are taking an oral exam in the Fall, adjust the timetable accordingly.


Dissertation Director chosen, examiners chosen, preliminary reading lists drafted; students and evaluators have made agreements on how to prepare.


Examiner meetings and/or writing to prepare special fields and to refine reading lists. Preliminary draft of the prospectus generated with Dissertation Director. (More information about prospectus format can be found in the “Dissertation Process, Prospectus & 5th Yr Presentation” tab.) Begin work on IRB process for Protection of Human Subjects.


The reading lists for all fields should be finalized and an edited prospectus prepared. Invite critique of the prospectus from committee members.


The QE Application is due 6 weeks before the oral exam and can be found on each student’s CalCentral page under “Higher Degree Committees Form.” Also 6 weeks before the QE, the student should distribute a working draft of their prospectus to each member of the QE committee along with reading lists for each field. Dates for the written portion of the exam and the oral exam should be confirmed in late March.

April: Qualifying Exams

Written Exam

Early April, three weeks before Oral Exam, Friday 10am – Monday 6pm.

Oral Exam

Late April/very early May. No notes allowed. Take the QE Report to the exam for signatures.

The Application for Candidacy

On your CalCentral page under “Higher Degree Committees Form,” submit soon after passing the QE, at least before the end of May. Failure to do so may affect funding in the 4th year. Please note: You will be charged for this application ($90 in 2018).

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The Dissertation Process, Prospectus, and 5th Year Presentation

After passing the Qualifying Examination, the student will obtain formal agreement from a member of the Graduate Group faculty to serve as Dissertation Director and the Application for Candidacy listing all committee members must be submitted on-line before the end of May for Spring QEs. If this deadline is missed, the student may not be eligible for funding in the 4th year. The Dissertation Director for any given dissertation project must have an interest and expertise in the subject of the proposed dissertation. The choice of Dissertation Director is especially crucial to the student since their contact with the Dissertation Director will extend over the duration of dissertation research and writing and will have a great bearing on the success of the student’s dissertation.

Selection of the Dissertation Committee

Selection of the Dissertation Committee

In consultation with the Dissertation Director and the Head Graduate Advisor, the student will nominate a Dissertation Committee that will consist of the Dissertation Director/Chair and 2 other faculty members. At least 2 of the 3 committee members must be part of the PS Graduate Group Core Faculty (1 will be the Dissertation Chair, at least 1 Core member must be from TDPS), and 1 committee member must be designated as the Academic Senate Representative.  Remember that the QE Chair cannot now be the Dissertation Chair. The composition of the Committee is subject to the approval of the Graduate Dean, acting on behalf of the administrative committee of the Graduate Council.  The Director and the ASR must belong to the UCB Academic Senate. One member of the Committee may be non-Senate, with the approval of the Graduate Dean. If it is appropriate for the Dissertation Committee to include 4 or 5 members, instead of 3, a “majority” (2/4 or 3/5) must still be from the Grad Group Core Faculty.

The student will then develop the final draft of the prospectus.



The format of the dissertation prospectus should be no more than 10 pages, single spaced, with an accompanying select bibliography of not more than 10 pages. (We have tried to set the length and format of the document to conform to standard fellowship and postdoctoral applications with the idea that the prospectus then has a greater potential for being transformed into a vehicle for seeking outside funding.) The prospectus should have the following elements:

  • title
  • names of the committee members
  • short description of the project
  • articulation of the “problem” or core research question(s)
  • brief literature review
  • statement about the significance of research and the contribution it is expected to make
  • description of key primary sources including the scope, nature, and availability of evidence
  • description of the methodology(s) to be used
  • timeline for the dissertation research and writing from inception through completion, including travel to archives
  • chapter outline.

Students should follow the steps detailed in the “Qualifying Examination Process & Calendar” tab and develop a preliminary draft of the prospectus in the Fall of the 3rd year of coursework, in collaboration with the Dissertation Director. A revised preliminary draft should be circulated to the whole exam committee at least three weeks before the written QE.

The prospectus will be discussed following the QE and should then be edited over the summer so an updated version can be shared with the Dissertation Director early in the Fall semester. 

A final version of the prospectus must be approved by all Dissertation Committee members and placed on file with the GSAO in the semester following the QE — by December 1 for Spring QEs or May 1 for Fall QEs.

5th Year Presentations

5th Year Presentations

During the Fall of the 5th year of study, doctoral candidates will make a public presentation based upon a chapter from their dissertations — to present work that is not only “prospective,” but actually in the process of revision and refinement. This is not an exam; it is not a job talk. It is, however, a chance to share work in progress, to solicit feedback, and to generate critical reflection. ABD researchers will circulate their prospectuses ahead of time to fellow students and faculty; the researcher is thus not obligated to repeat the larger parameters of the project in great detail, knowing that their audience has been acquainted in advance. This scenario allows the researcher to be strategic about what portion of their work they decide to share and to decide how to make best use of the time. ABD researchers are invited to reflect with their dissertation advisors about what work to share and what research sites and research questions they want to explore with the group. Researchers may choose to focus on a previously drafted chapter that feels secure and finalized; however, we also hope that researchers will make use of this time to advance new writing, to reflect together on methodological, organizational, or conceptual issues that might still be vexing them. Researchers are encouraged to ask themselves: what would be most useful to me? where can I use some help from a wider intellectual community who is focused (how lovely is this) for an hour or so on me and my work?

Researchers will present roughly 30-minutes of research and reflection, followed by Q&A. Given that this ABD Lecture is also part of a larger and varied intellectual colloquium in the graduate program, fellow students and faculty are strongly urged to read the prospectuses ahead of time and to engage rigorously, generously, and imaginatively with the work of ABD researchers.

Follow-up Meeting

While scheduling the 5th Year Talk, the student and dissertation chair will also plan a follow-up meeting of the full committee.  This meeting will be a good opportunity for the student and faculty to synch up as well as a chance to understand each member’s process of engagement with the student.  

Completion of Dissertation

Completion of Dissertation

Upon the completion of the dissertation and its acceptance by the Dissertation Committee, the student will be recommended for the Ph.D.; there will be no dissertation defense.

Dissertation Filing Guidelines

Graduate Division Policies — Degrees

International students completing the degree in the Summer should consult the Berkeley International Office before finalizing plans as in some cases lack of Summer enrollment could impact visa status or post-completion employment.

All international students interested in working in the US after graduation should consult with the advisors at BIO about options like the Optional Practical Training (OPT) temporary work authorization.

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Progress and Funding

Timely Progress

Timely Progress

Students in the Ph.D. Program in Performance Studies are required to make clear and timely progress toward the degree. Retention in the program and reappointment to funded positions (teaching, research, fellowship) will depend in part on the demonstration of timely progress. The program defines timely progress as follows:

  • Completion of all required coursework: end of 5th semester
  • Qualifying examination (written and oral components) passed: end of 6th semester
  • Submission of final dissertation prospectus, approved by entire dissertation committee: December 1, 7th semester
  • Public presentation of doctoral research: by end of 10th semester
  • Completion of dissertation: by end of 12th semester

In order to enhance students’ progress towards completion, the Graduate Program in Performance Studies offers the following completion-promoting activities:

  • We require that a prospectus that has met the approval of the full Dissertation Committee be filed with the program administrator in Fall of the 4th year. The format of this prospectus follows closely standard formats for extramural fellowship applications.
  • Students are required to give a formal presentation of their doctoral research during Fall of their 5th year of study.
  • Graduate Colloquium, a required part of our curriculum taken over three semesters, addresses professional development issues including orientation to leading professional organizations and journals, information about publishing, guidance through the revision of an article with the goal of submissions for publication, and guidance in how to write research proposals and grants.

Funding Package

Funding Package

Students in the program are normally nominated for University funding and are typically awarded a package of support: fellowship, teaching, and research support derived from University and departmental sources. Students are typically offered six years of support, which depends on continued demonstrable progress.

The 6-year funding package offered to all students at the time of admission will typically include the following:

  • All Fall and Spring fees and tuition – 6 years
  • $29,000 academic year stipend and/or salary – 6 years
  • $5,000 summer stipend – 6 summers

Please note that this package is made up of a combination of fellowship stipend and teaching salary. (Students usually teach in 3 or 4 of the 6 years.) Stipend payments are usually received in late August, late January, and late May, while teaching salary is received monthly starting in early September. Taxes will be owed on salary income as well as on fellowship funding. Some taxes will be withheld from your monthly salary payments, but not from fellowships so save funds with which to pay your tax bill. This bill can be for several thousand dollars if most of your funding has been from fellowships in the prior calendar year.

Our ability to fund all students depends on each student’s commitment to the department and to our program. By accepting the offer of funding and responding to our request for teaching preferences, you become an important part of how we educate our undergraduate students. We will provide you with training, support, and supervision to fulfill this important role and prepare for future careers. At the same time, you are expected to participate fully in this reciprocal agreement, communicate proactively about your circumstances, and fulfill your teaching commitments.

Funding in the 4th Year

If a student advances to candidacy for the Ph.D. in a timely manner (by the end of the 3rd year), has a satisfactory Doctoral Candidacy Review, is on track to file the dissertation in a timely manner, and has previously applied for any extramural funding, then the student will receive an academic year of Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF) support from the Graduate Division. If a student does not qualify for the Doctoral Completion Fellowship, we may offer teaching support in the 4th year. Refer to the Graduate Division website for DCF details.

International Students Please Note:

Please read the employment rules on your I-20 or DS-2019 immigration document. You will likely be limited to a maximum of 50% employment on campus during Fall and Spring and no off-campus employment.  International students are not eligible for as wide a range of loans, grants, and other awards as domestic students. You will also be charged NRST (Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition) each semester. This will be paid by the department and/or university during your first three years in good standing in the program. At the end of your 3rd year, you should pass your Qualifying Exams and Advance to Candidacy. Your NRST will then be waived for 3 years, through the 6th year only.  After the 6th year, you will be charged for NRST unless you have completed your degree, withdrawn, or are on Filing Fee (for 1 semester only). Please consult with Avy Valladares as you plan.

External Fellowships

External Fellowships

Many of our graduate students have been successful in garnering external support from sources such as Fulbright, the Social Science Research Council, the Jacob Javitz Fellowship and other funds. Students applying for major year-long external fellowships should be aware that these often do not cover full fees and tuition.  However, the Graduate Division offers Tuition Support for External Fellowships and you are encouraged to see if your intended fellowship meets the criteria.  Please consult with the GSAO in advance when you are considering applying for outside funding so we can discuss possible impacts on teaching and/or on other funding sources.

Additional Funding & Awards

Additional Funding

3rd year

All students receive a $500 stipend during their 3rd year to help with expenses related to preparation for the Qualifying Exam as well as the fee for Advancing to Candidacy.

4th year

All students receive a $100 stipend during their 4th year to help with expenses related to the job market such as porfolio services.


The Dunbar Ogden Essay Prize in Theater History 

Each Spring we will send out a call for submissions for consideration for an essay prize to be awarded at Commencement. This $500 award goes to the most outstanding Performance Studies graduate student essay. Professor Emeritus Dunbar Ogden wishes to recognize “students who demonstrate high merit in their scholarship of performance study, with a preference for those focused on theater history.” Students must be ABD at the time of submission. Essays should be 20-30 pages in length, and should be taken from research related to the dissertation, but able to stand alone (i.e. the piece should be self-contained, without a lengthy explanation of the dissertation, as a publishable essay would need to be). Essays published in other venues are acceptable, as are submissions intended for future publication or under consideration. Full dissertation chapters will not be considered. Please save the essay in Google Drive and share with Avy Valladares, making sure to send the email notification. Due by April 1.

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (OGSI)

Every year, TDPS nominates its Outstanding GSI for this campus award. The nomination process is department specific and within the Performance Studies Ph.D. that process occurs in the following way: In the early spring, the HGA submits to supervising faculty a list of all ABD students who have taught within the department in the previous calendar year, then from that group, a “short list” of finalists is derived based on number of courses taught, student evaluations, and supervisor observations, usually by February 1. The short-listed candidates are then asked to submit the following materials to support their candidacy by March 1:

  • 1-2 page statement of pedagogical philosophy as it pertains to teaching done in TDPS. (While some graduate students do teach in departments outside of TDPS, only courses taught within the department are eligible for consideration by our program.)
  • Syllabi
  • Exercises or Prompts

Conference/Professional Development Funding

Conference/Professional Development Funding

Thanks to our Hickman Endowment, we are able to offer registered students some additional funding for conferences/professional development activities and research travel. The deadlines for proposals are April 1 and November 1. Please save your application(s) on Google Drive and share with Avy Valladares, GSAO, making sure to send the email notification. The Graduate Student Affairs Officer and Head Graduate Advisor will review applications and you will be informed of your award(s) 2-3 weeks later. Actual awards will be in the form of a stipend and will be made after the GSAO receives appropriate documentation/receipts. Please note that it is possible to apply for both conference/professional devolopment and research awards.

The Graduate Assembly also offers travel awards. Please see the GA website for all the details and take advantage of this opportunity.

The Graduate Division offers funding for 2 conferences and/or professional development activities during your academic career at Berkeley. You can find more information about these Conference Travel Grants on the Grad Div website. You will be able to apply to our program for additional support.  In general, we assist with a total of 3 conferences and/or professional development activities, or 2 if both are outside of North America, and usually offer the following standardized maximum amounts based on geographic location of the activity. These amounts are a guide only and are contingent on our overall fiscal capacity in relationship to the total amount that students request in any given year. In making allocations, we may also take into account the previous travel funding the applicant has received in the program.

  • California and Western N. America: $1,000
  • Other US, Mexico, and Canada: $1,400
  • Europe: $2,000
  • Central and South America: $2,000
  • Asia, Africa, Middle East, and South Pacific: $2,400

Applications for financial assistance to travel to give a paper at a conference or professional meeting should include the following:

  • Your name
  • Your year in the program (1st year, 2nd year, etc.)
  • Title of paper
  • Title of conference
  • Date and location of the conference
  • A statement about why this particular conference is important to your professional development
  • A brief abstract of the paper and its relevance to your research
  • A brief summary of the travel funding you have received from the graduate program in performance studies over the last two years
  • An explanation of any funding previously received and not yet used
  • List any other sources of funding to which you have applied for this conference (or for which you intend to apply)

You may apply for the funding even if your paper has yet to be accepted. An award will be made when we receive appropriate documentation/receipts for your trip. In exceptional circumstances, funding may be allocated for a student to attend but not present at a conference. In such cases, the applicant needs to make a clear and compelling case for such attendance. Such awards will also be contingent upon fiscal capacity, with non-presenting attendance being a low funding priority.

Research Funding

Research Funding

Thanks to our Hickman Endowment, we are able to offer registered students some funding for conference and research travel. The deadlines for proposals are April 1 and November 1. Please save your application(s) on Google Drive and share with Avy Valladares, GSAO, making sure to send the email notification. The Graduate Student Affairs Officer and Head Graduate Advisor will review conference and research applications and you will be informed of your award(s) 2-3 weeks later. Actual awards will be in the form of a stipend and will be made after the GSAO receives appropriate documentation/receipts from the trip. Please note that it is possible to apply for both conference and research travel awards.

We are especially keen to support primary research that is of paramount importance to a student’s anticipated dissertation project, publications, and entry into the academic profession. We may make awards for 2 research trips, usually for the summers after the 2nd and 4th or 5th years, and award amounts will be primarily based on location of research and cost of any specialized equipment central to conducting primary research. Ineligible expenses: tuition; labor and services such as copyediting.

Awards (made as stipends after we receive appropriate documentation/receipts) are usually between $300 and $2,500, with the larger amount awarded only in cases of significant international travel. Awards for research in the US/Canada/Mexico do not usually exceed $1,700. These amounts are a guide only and are contingent on our overall fiscal capacity in relationship to the total amount that students request in any given year. In making allocations, we may also take into account the previous research funding the applicant has received in the program.

The proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria: significance and potential impact of the proposed research on the student’s trajectory through the graduate program and on professional standing; persuasiveness of the statement of purpose; appropriateness of budgetary items; and industry in attempting to identify alternate funding sources.

We have had a few requests for funding to pursue training of various kinds. This is a novel category of request, but one increasingly common, so the executive committee drafted a set of criteria by which these requests will be evaluated:

  • The training must not be available at UC Berkeley.
  • The training must be integral to the student’s research work (ie it must constitute the primary object of analysis of at least one chapter of the dissertation).
  • The student’s dissertation advisor must attest to the centrality of the training on the above point; if the student is pre-QEs, the HGA must be able to attest to its centrality.
  • If the student is pre-QEs, the content of the training must be in keeping with the student’s stated research trajectory in the 1st and/or 2nd year reports (ie there must be clear continuity between the student’s research interests as stated in these reports and the requested training).

Applications for financial assistance for research expenses should be 1-2 pages single-spaced and include the following information:

  • Statement of purpose: nature of the research you will conduct and its relevance to your dissertation; a rationale for the expenses for which you are requesting support. Identify at least one Core faculty member who is advising you on this project
  • If you are applying for funding for training, please include a note of support from your dissertation chair or the HGA if you are in your 1st or 2nd year (see above)
  • Overall Budget: For travel costs, list dates of travel, destination, and airfare price. For other expenses, be specific and detailed
  • Amount Requested from our program. Allocations can range from $100 to $2,500, but more typically fall in the $700 to $1,700 range
  • A brief summary of previous support (for research or conferences) that you have received from our program in the past two years
  • An explanation of any funding previously received and not yet used
  • List any other sources of funding to which you have applied for this research (or for which you intend to apply)

Language Study Funding

Language Study Funding

Thanks to our Hickman Endowment, we are able to offer registered students some funding for language study. The deadline for proposals is April 1. Please save your application(s) in Google Drive and share with Avy Valladares, GSAO, making sure to send the email notification.

The Graduate Student Affairs Officer and Head Graduate Advisor will review applications in April and you will be informed of your award by mid-month. Actual awards will in the form of a stipend, usually up to $1,400, and will be made when the GSAO receives appropriate documentation/receipts for the language class/program. Please note that this award can be used for a private tutor and/or class fees and tuition and does not have to be used for a UC Berkeley language class; we encourage you to find the best class or program for your situation and research needs. You may be required to submit appropriate transcripts/certificates after completion of the course. Students are eligible for only 1 language award during their time in our program, but study doesn’t have to take place all at once: classes can be taken in 2 summers, for example.

If you are interested in doing intensive language study, please provide the information outlined below. Allocations will be contingent on the cumulative amount of all student requests.

  • Information on the language class: where it’s being offered, and assurance of the program’s quality
  • Rationale for why this class is important for your work
  • Whether or not you have applied for and received any other funding assistance to study this language
  • Total cost

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Master of Arts Degree

Students may elect to earn a Master of Arts degree as they progress through the Ph.D. program by completing M.A. (Plan I) requirements. In the event that a student leaves the Ph.D. program before completion of Ph.D. requirements, the student may earn a Master of Arts degree by completing the M.A. requirements. A student who enters the Ph.D. program with a Master of Arts degree may not earn another M.A. in this program, except by petition to the Head Graduate Advisor (i.e., students who enter with a M.A. in a related field—English, History, etc.—who wish to earn the M.A. in Performance Studies may do so, through petition to the Head Graduate Advisor). The University does not award duplicate degrees. See the Graduate Division website and speak with the GSAO for additional information and deadlines.

Master's Requirements

  1. Completion of six courses (equaling at least 24 semester units). These six courses must include the four Core Seminars (Theater 201A, 201B, 202, 203) and at least two electives approved by the Head Graduate Advisor and the MA Committee Chair.
  2. Completion of a master’s thesis. The master’s thesis will consist of a paper written for a seminar and then revised to article-quality and a length of 7,000 to 9,000 words (approximately 25 pages); the thesis must be read and approved by a three-member committee. At least two members of the committee must be from the Graduate Group Core Faculty and at least one of those must be from TDPS. The M.A. Committee Chair must be from the Graduate Group Core Faculty.

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Graduate Advisors

Head Graduate Advisor

The Head Graduate Advisor (HGA) will provide academic and professional advice to all incoming students in their first three years, or until they have successfully passed the Qualifying Examination and have been admitted to candidacy. Students are encouraged to seek additional guidance for the period before the Qualifying Examination from a potential Dissertation Director.

You may also find helpful information on the Graduate Division website about getting mentoring.

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

The Graduate Student Affairs Officer (GSAO), Avy Valladares, is the primary point of contact regarding policies, procedures, funding, enrollment, etc. He is in 15A Dwinelle Hall and can be reached at (510) 664-7613 or

Counseling Services

Recognizing that graduate students can feel uncomfortable going to the Tang Center for fear of running into the undergraduate students they teach, there is a satellite location just for you in Eshelman Hall.

Graduate Wellness Center
444 Eshelman Hall, Graduate Assembly Suite
Schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Amy Honigman
(510) 664-5117 or

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Disability Accommodations

Students with disabilities are welcome in this program. Students who need accommodations for a disability (temporary or permanent, visible or invisible) are responsible for registering with the Disabled Students Program (DSP) and then confirming that our GSAO, Avy Valladares, and/or the relevant professor has received an official notification of accommodation needs. For more information see the DSP website.

Please be advised that university policies stipulate that academic programs can only provide disability accommodations to students who are registered with the Disabled Students Program, and only the particular accommodations stipulated in the DSP “letter of accommodation” can be provided.

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