Skip to main content

Degree Requirements


IPTD’s interdisciplinary philosophy is implemented on a practical level by taking coursework in various departments across the School of Communication, Weinburg College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Music. Our students draw upon faculty and research resources in theatre studies and other areas, and conduct research that uses the materials, methods, and theories associated with more than one discipline. The flexibility and robustness of the program places each student’s agenda of intellectual pursuits at the forefront of their study. Our program flexes to meet student needs and to respond to new developments in academic study.

Each student develops, in consultation with the Director of IPTD, a plan of curricular study to maintain steady progress toward the completion of the PhD. It is assumed that many of the selected courses will include offerings by the IPTD Associate Faculty.

There are six required core courses. They are designed to create a framework that allows flexibility in designing a program of study that enables each student to develop more than one area of disciplinary competence, while providing some foundational parameters and common tools. All students take TH&DRAMA 501: Research Methods and Methodologies within the first two years of course work. (The class is typically offered every other year.) In the winter of their second year, students also take TH&DRAMA 502: Research Design and Prospectus, in which they draft the dissertation prospectus. Beyond that, all students are required to take the following courses at the 400- or 500-level : a) three classes in theatre/dance/performance history and theory with geographical and temporal breadth (reflecting diverse histories, perspectives, styles, and regions), at least one of which must focus on pre-1920, and b) one class in arts practice, pedagogy, or public humanities. To meet the pre-1920 requirement, at least 50% of the course must cover theatre/dance/performance material prior to 1920. In some cases, the Director may suggest or require additional courses in consultation with individual students.

With the Director’s prior approval, courses taught in other departments by Associate Faculty members may be taken to satisfy part of this requirement; in recent years this has included Renaissance drama, history of opera, and theatre in the ancient world.

Other courses are chosen to help prepare students for the qualifying exams and dissertation research. An individuated program of study is determined in consultation with the Director.

Students’ progress is reviewed annually by the Director and Executive Committee.

For more detail consult the IPTD Handbook.

Other Requirements

Requirements for the PhD include successful completion of a dissertation prospectus, written exam, preliminary oral exam, dissertation, and final oral exam. Exams are administered by faculty from the student’s dissertation committee. Students are responsible for timely completion of the degree according to University, School, Department, and Program rules, procedures, and deadlines and should review the written regulations of the Graduate School, the School of Communication, and IPTD regarding these and other pertinent requirements.

IPTD has no language requirement, but many doctoral students find that a secure command of at least one foreign language is essential to their research. Many students study a language during the academic year alongside their PhD coursework, and The Graduate School provides Summer Language Grants for intensive summer language study.

Technically, IPTD is a PhD-only program. However, students who matriculate at Northwestern without a Master’s degree may take a Master’s degree along the way to the PhD by temporarily changing their registration post-candidacy.