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A&S—Theatre Arts

The Department of Theatre Arts, founded in 1982, offers the MA, MFA, and PhD degrees, which integrate training and practice in the theater with scholarship and research in the liberal arts tradition. The minimal requirements for the degrees established by the Graduate Faculty and by A&S Graduate Studies, as described elsewhere in this bulletin, should be read in conjunction with the specific departmental requirements outlined in the Theatre Arts Graduate Handbook. A printed version may be requested by writing the department admissions secretary:

For additional information on these aspects of study in the theatre arts at Pitt, visit the department website:

Contact Information


          Theatre Box Office: 412-624-PLAY (7529)

Department Chair: Annmarie Duggan
Office: 1617A Cathedral of Learning
Phone: 412-624-7285
Fax: 412-624-6338
Director of Graduate Studies: Michelle Granshaw
Office: 1626B Cathedral of Learning
Phone: 412-624-6467
Fax: 412-624-6338
Graduate Student Services Administrator: Connie Markiw
Office: 1617A Cathedral of Learning
Phone: 412-624-6568
Fax: 412-624-6338

Admissions, Facilities, Theatrical Production at the University

For details on the following and all graduate programs, visit the online Graduate Handbook for Theatre Arts.

Apply Online

Financial Assistance

MA in Theatre and Performance Studies in Theatre Arts

A minimum of one and a half years or three terms in residence is required for the completion of the degree. Normally, degree requirements may be completed by passing 33 credits of course work. The faculty will, however, administer a diagnostic examination to the student prior to or during the first term of residence to determine if the student should be assigned course work beyond minimum requirements. Core courses include Materials and Methods of Research (THEA 2201) and seven courses in dramatic literature, theater history, criticism, or theory (four of these seven will be graduate seminars in the department). The balance of courses may be selected from the curriculum in theatre arts and other departments with the approval of the student’s advisor. Maintenance of a 3.0 GPA is required. Students are required to pass a comprehensive examination or complete a thesis near the end of their study.

It is possible for MA candidates in theatre arts to achieve Certification for Secondary School Teaching in Pennsylvania by coordinating their course of theater study with the appropriate courses in the School of Education. Students interested in pursuing this option should secure the advice and guidance of the advisor for secondary education in the School of Education. 


MA/PhD Program in Theatre Arts

Highly qualified students who have a BA may proceed to the doctoral degree more efficiently, receiving their MA en route. The MA/PhD program's basic requirements combine the major attributes of the MA in Theatre and Performance Studies with those of the PhD program. The chief modifications involve the number of required seminars, the relationship between the MA and the PhD Comprehensive Examinations, and the total number of credits and years of residence required.


MFA in Performance Pedagogy in Theatre Arts

The MFA in theatre arts was created to provide the opportunity for working professionals in the theater, who have not completed graduate education, to expand their employment opportunities into the field of educational theater. The degree is designed to equip the student to teach acting and related topics at the college and university level. It is based on the premise that a professional artist already has a level of craft that can be drawn upon to create a good teacher. Emphasis in course work is placed on the techniques of teaching acting, movement, or voice with additional course work designed to enhance the student’s background in theater history, literature, and criticism. In addition to the application for admission, applicants for this program should submit the following: college transcripts, an on-site acting audition or audition tape, three letters of recommendation, a head shot and resume, and a writing sample. A diagnostic exam is given in the first semester to determine recommended course work. Required courses include Materials and Methods of Research, 12 credits in theater literature and history, performance, and thesis preparation, as well as directed studies in creating a course and assisting in a performance class. Maintenance of a 3.0 GPA is required. Degree requirements include 60 credits and a thesis project.

PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies in Theatre Arts

The Doctor of Philosophy program is open to all qualified students who have completed, or who will have completed prior to registration, a Master of Arts degree or its equivalent. A Master of Arts in theatre arts is not a prerequisite for admission to the program. Applicants are expected to demonstrate superior writing and research skills and to have substantial background in dramatic literature and theatre history. The GRE is required, along with samples of research writing and a personal statement of objectives.

Our goal is to forge students who will be "philosophers of theater." Seminars emphasizing theatre history, criticism, dramatic literature, theory, and performance studies form the core of the program. To help PhD candidates obtain fulfilling teaching positions, a Special Option Program allows students to practice a theatrical skill while working toward their degrees. In addition to numerous production and teaching opportunities for students pursuing a PhD, Pitt features several interdisciplinary options and offers generous financial aid.

Candidates for the PhD must demonstrate knowledge of a second language at an advanced level, demonstrate competence through qualifying and comprehensive exams, and write a dissertation. Typical core courses in the PhD program include Materials and Methods of Research in Theatre Arts (can be waived) and eight additional seminar-level courses in dramatic literature, theater history, criticism, performance studies, or in a related field. At least six of the eight required courses will be advanced graduate seminars in the Department of Theatre Arts (2000 series). The others may be graduate (2000 series) courses listed in any appropriate University department.

Normally, degree requirements may be completed by passing 72 credits of course work, of which 24 are automatically granted for an approved Master’s degree. A maximum of 36 transfer credits may be accepted, but normally are allowed in theater or a related field. Maintenance of a 3.0 GPA is required. A two-part comprehensive exam—a written exam and an oral exam—is given in the third or fourth year of study. A minimum of three years or six terms in residency is required.

Course Listing


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