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The Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama (IPTD) is a cross-school program featuring faculty and coursework that span the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts. We train outstanding students for lifetime careers both within and beyond the academy, emphasizing the simultaneous development of intellectual excellence in scholarship with pedagogical skills. We seek students with exceptional promise as researchers who may also have backgrounds in theatre, dance, or performance in order to examine historical and contemporary theatrical practice from multi- and inter-disciplinary perspectives.

IPTD gives students the opportunity to choose classes and work with professors from any department in the School of Communication or the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, while providing a home base in the Department of Theatre. Individual students in IPTD work with a committee unique to their interests and, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and their advisors, design a program of study incorporating theatre, dance, or performance research with one or more other academic fields. Early in their studies, students identify the combination of fields best suited to their own research interests and intended dissertation. They are then advised to find appropriate courses and mentors to help them develop corresponding expertise. Sometimes this involves taking courses from an existing department or program at Northwestern (such as Performance Studies, Musicology, History, or Sociology). Other times, it involves a more esoteric or emergent combination (such as memory studies, globalization/circulation theory, or reception studies) that is non-departmental or programmatic. Every student is unique, which allows the program to be flexible to the needs of student research and responsive to developments in academic study internationally. Faculty actively mentor student projects at all phases of conception and implementation.


IPTD alumni have long been a vibrant presence in contemporary scholarship across many disciplines. Find more information on the exciting recent books published by IPTD alumni authors. Alumni and current students also have an impressive body of essays in edited collections and in prominent peer-reviewed journals.

Awards and Fellowships

IPTD students and alumni have received a wide range of awards and fellowships, such as the Presidential Fellowship, the Fulbright Fellowship, the TDR Student Essay Prize, the National Science Foundation Grant, the Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the American Association of University Women Dissertation Completion Fellowship.


Current and former IPTD students have held leadership positions in major disciplinary conferences and professional organizations, including the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), Performance Studies International (PSi), Dance Studies Association (DSA), and extra-disciplinary conferences.


IPTD has an outstanding history of job placement. Alumni have gone on to faculty and leadership positions at many leading universities and colleges. Many alumni also have successful careers outside of academia, working as practicing artists, for Google, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and HerSelf First. Find more information on our alumni.