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.

IPTD’s six required core courses emphasize a breadth of historical coverage as well as significant methodological inquiry into historical and theoretical practices. Courses satisfying these requirements are identified each year by the Director, and only those so approved can satisfy the requirement. The core courses include: a course in methodology, a course in performance theory, and at least one approved 400-level (or higher) course in European theatre and drama prior to 1650, European theatre and drama after 1650, and theatre and drama of Africa, Asia or the Americas. All IPTD students also take Research Design & Prospectus, in which they are closely mentored through the dissertation prospectus writing process.

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.