Degree Programs

Special departmental requirements

When considering an application to graduate school in our department, be sure to also see the general University Graduate School requirements.

Admission Requirements

We typically require that you have earned an undergraduate major in the field or can demonstrate other evidence of an adequate background for success in the program.

Deficiencies may be removed by course work or special examination.

For M.A. and Ph.D. candidates, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is required. Non-native speakers of English are also required to have minimum TOEFL scores of 600 for the paper test, 250 for the computer-based test, and 100 for the Internet-based test.

The GRE General Test is not required for M.F.A. applicants, but non-native speakers who are working on the M.F.A. degree must meet the University Graduate school minimum TOEFL scores of 550 (paper), or 213 (computer-based), or 80 (Internet-based).

M.F.A. applicants are required to audition, interview, or submit examples of appropriate work for evaluation. For more detailed information on the application and admission process, please see the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance Web site.

Master of Arts degree

The M.A. degree requires a total of 30 credit hours, of which 15 credit hours must be in departmental courses numbered 500 and above, including T500; maximum of 5 credit hours in T895. Up to 10 credit hours may be taken in an allied field or area of specialization in another department.

Language requirement

You must have or gain the ability to translate scholarly material on theatre from one foreign language.

Master’s essay

A student may satisfy the master’s essay requirement in one of three ways:

  • By submitting a suitable term or seminar paper, revised to the satisfaction of a two-member faculty committee,
  • By writing an original master’s essay not based on any previous paper, or
  • By writing a formal master’s thesis (maximum of 5 credit hours in T895).
Master’s exam

Students are required to take a written examination on the M.A. reading list in dramatic literature, theory, and theatre history. The examination may be repeated once.

Master of Fine Arts degree

Course requirements

The degree requires a minimum total of 60 credit hours of graduate work, with an emphasis in one of the following areas: acting, directing, playwriting, scenic design, lighting design, costume design, costume technology, or theatre technology. Certain emphases within the M.F.A. degree require more than 60 hours.

The 60 credit hours must include 3 credit hours in the study of resources and materials in the student’s area of special interest and not fewer than 6 credit hours in the area of theatre history, dramatic theory, and dramatic literature.

When appropriate, up to 12 credit hours (15 credit hours in costume design) may be taken in an allied field in another department.

A maximum of 10 credits may be taken in M.F.A. thesis.

For each Master candidate in these academic programs, a faculty advisor individually prescribes a minimum of 24 credits of courses which the student must complete in the specific major. The distribution of course work will be determined by the student and advisor. A minimum of four semesters or equivalent summer sessions must be spent in residence on the Bloomington campus.

Production Thesis

Successful completion of the degree requires a production thesis.


The degree requires an oral defense of the thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy degree

Course requirements

The Ph.D. requires a total of 90 credit hours, of which 50-60 must be in the major field, including 30 credit hours of courses numbered 500 or above, at least 6 credit hours in advanced seminars, and 15 credit hours of dissertation.


The degree requires a minor of approximately 15 credit hours within another department in an area related to drama and theatre.

Other Provisions

To demonstrate an acquaintance with the tools, techniques, and reporting of theatre research, all Ph.D. students are expected:

  • to have written a research thesis at the master’s level (if not, a term paper or other evidence of research writing skill should be submitted)
  • to have taken a graduate-level course in research methods (if not, T500 must be taken in the first year of residence)
  • to show an ability to translate scholarly material on theatre from two languages, usually selected from French, German, Russian, Italian, and Spanish. Consult the director of graduate studies for specific details and approval of language selections.
Comprehensive exams

Successful completion of the degree requires four comprehensive oral examinations:

  • Theatre before 1500
  • Theatre from 1500–1800
  • Theater from 1800–1915
  • Theatre from 1915–present
Comprehensive exams may be taken individually, in any order, and at any time acceptable to both student and faculty.