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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Doctor of Philosophy in Drama

University requirements for the Ph.D. are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin. All graduate study in the Department of Drama leads to the Ph.D. degree. The doctoral program in Drama aims to integrate practical theater work with the critical and historical study of dramatic literature and theory. Candidates are expected to function both as scholars and as theater directors. The curriculum offers a two-year practical concentration in directing along with the study of critical and performance theory, aesthetics, history, and literature. The goal of the program is to give students a thorough knowledge of the field that leads to original and significant scholarly work grounded in practice as well as an inventive directorial practice that is based on solid scholarly analysis.

Admission—Applicants for the Ph.D. program can visit our web site at or write directly to the Department of Drama, Attention: Graduate Admissions, for information. Online graduate applications are available at In addition to the required statement of purpose, applicants must submit a statement detailing their practical theater experience, a sample of their written critical work, and a statement on directing. An invitation to interview may be extended by the end of January. Graduate students in the Department of Drama begin study in Autumn Quarter of each academic year; there are no mid-year admissions. Graduate students must be degree candidates.

The Department of Drama awards a number of fellowships to students in the Ph.D. program.


  1. Units and Course Requirements—
    1. A minimum of 135 units of graduate courses and seminars in support of the degree. These units are in addition to units for the doctoral dissertation.
    2. Core seminars: 300A, 300B, 301, 302 or 303, and 304.
    3. Three additional graduate seminars within the Department of Drama to be worked out with the adviser.
    4. Four workshops in directing: DRAMA 370, 372, 373, 374. In the first two years, students take: 370, Concepts of Directing; 372, Projects in Directing; and 373, Directing and Dramaturgy. In the second year, students take 374, Graduate Directors' Performance Project, to stage a more fully developed production chosen in consultation with the faculty.

    The following department requirements are in addition to the University's basic requirements for the doctorate.

    1. Language Requirement
    2. Three Examinations



    Department Oral

    1. Dissertation Prospectus
    2. Defense of Dissertation
    3. Assistantships: Research (RA) and Teaching (TA)
  2. Language Requirement—The candidate must demonstrate reading knowledge of one foreign language in which there is a major body of dramatic literature. The language requirement must be met before the student can be advanced to candidacy. The language requirement may be fulfilled in any of the following ways:
    1. achievement of a sufficiently high score (70th percentile) on the foreign language examination prepared by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Latin and Greek are not tested by ETS.
    2. a reading examination given each quarter by the various language departments, except for Latin and Greek.
    3. pass with a grade of 'B' or higher courses in Literature/History numbered 100 or higher in a foreign language department at Stanford.
  3. Examinations—Candidates must complete three examinations (comprehensive, qualifying, and department oral) by the end of the first three years of study at Stanford.
    1. 1st Year Comprehensive. The comprehensive examination is taken over the first weekend in December of the first year. The exam is based on texts given to the student by the department before the start of the first year. Students study these texts independently. For the exam, they should be able to identify and compare plays and playwrights from the list of texts in terms of dramatic genres, styles, and periods, and to address comparatively and analytically critical issues of texts and performance.
    2. 2nd Year Qualifying. The qualifying examination, which must be completed before advancement to candidacy at the end of the second year, consists of two 25-35-page essays. Each of these essays should demonstrate a broad knowledge of two different historical periods (pre-20th century), with emphasis on particular dramatic texts and/or performance practices. Essay topics should be designed and written up in consultation with a faculty adviser. The reading list for each period should be approved by the end of the first quarter. These essays should not duplicate any written work from seminars. After approval by the adviser, the Graduate Studies Committee reads and evaluates these essays. For the first qualifying examination, candidates must choose from the following historical periods:


      Medieval and Renaissance

      17th, 18th, or early 19th century

    3. 3rd Year Department Oral. The department oral examination requires three faculty members, at least two from the Department of Drama, who will most likely form the dissertation reading committee. This exam is based on a 2-3 page summary of the project and a 40-page review of the literature for the dissertation that the student creates in conjunction with the committee. This exam should be taken by the end of Spring Quarter in the third year.
  4. Dissertation Prospectus—The dissertation prospectus must be approved by the candidate's adviser and by the departmental Graduate Studies Committee two quarters after taking the department oral. This should be done in the Autumn Quarter of the fourth year. Within 30 days of approval, a student should schedule a prospectus colloquium with the proposed reading committee (the dissertation director and two other faculty members). The prospectus must be prepared in close consultation with the dissertation adviser during the months preceding the colloquium.
    1. The prospectus should be approximately 15-20 pages and minimally cover three things:
      • the research question and context
      • the methodology for research
      • a lay-out of a complete chapter by chapter plan
  5. University Oral Examination—The University oral examination is a defense of the dissertation based on a full draft submitted at least 75 days before the proposed degree conferral. The examining committee consists of four faculty members, at least two of whom must be from the Department of Drama, as well as one faculty chair from outside the department who does not share an appointment with the department of any of the examiners.
  6. Assistantships
    1. Research Assistantship. Three quarters of research assistantship with faculty members are required. Generally, this requirement is fulfilled in the third year.
    2. Teaching Assistantship. Four quarters of supervised teaching at half time are a required part of the Ph.D. program. The requirement is normally met by teaching three courses during the fourth year and one course during the fifth year. During non-teaching quarters in years four and five, students serve as research assistants.
  7. Application for Candidacy—By the end of the second year of residence, the following requirements or appropriate equivalents must be completed:
    1. the core seminars: 300A, 300B, 301, 302 or 303, and 304
    2. the directing workshop series (DRAMA 370-374), including the successful production of at least one work in public performance
    3. a foreign language
    4. successful completion of the comprehensive and qualifying exams

      Based on its evaluation of the student's progress, the Graduate Studies Committee certifies the student's qualifications for candidacy. Upon favorable action, the student files a formal application for candidacy, as prescribed by the University, by the end of Summer Quarter of the second year. By University policy, candidacy is valid for five years unless terminated by the department.

  8. Dissertation—Normally, the Ph.D. program in Drama is completed in five years. The first two years should be devoted to full-time graduate study, and the third, fourth, and fifth years to research, teaching, and writing the dissertation. A candidate taking more than five years is required to reinstate candidacy by repassing the written examinations on dramatic literature.
  9. Satisfactory Progress, Annual Review—The program and progress of each student must be evaluated by the Graduate Studies Committee at the end of each academic year. At the end of the first year, the Graduate Studies Committee evaluates the work of each student in classes, seminars, examinations, and performance. Production planning in the Spring of each year for the following season is contingent upon students making satisfactory progress. Continuation in the program depends upon the recommendation of this faculty group. At the end of the second year, the committee reviews the student's work in consideration of advancement to candidacy. At the end of the third year, students are expected to have developed an approved dissertation prospectus. Funding is contingent upon satisfactory progress. Failure to make satisfactory progress may result in dismissal from the program. University policy states that all requirements including dissertation must be completed before candidacy expires.

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