Stanford TAPS Ph.D. Program

The mission of the graduate program in Theater & Performance Studies (TAPS) is to produce students who work in the leading edge of both scholarly and performance practice. The Ph.D. program in TAPS emphasizes the combination of theory and practice. Graduate students complete a program with a rigorous study of critical theory, textual history, elements of production (directing, acting, choreography, writing, and design) and embodied research. We have a superb record of placement and the U.S. National Research Council ranked Stanford's Ph.D. program in Theater & Performances Studies second in the nation.

Our generous funding package includes tuition, health insurance, travel award and a living stipend. This is a five-year fully-funded fellowship package which allows students to devote the first two years to full-time graduate study, the third year to graduate study and research, and years four and five to teaching and writing the dissertation. Following formal admission to candidacy (usually after the second year), the dissertation can be completed and approved within five years. For the 2015–2016 academic year, graduate applications are due Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 5pm.


Please click HERE to view the most up-to-date list of this year's course offerings.


1. Compose Your Application

Consult the Office of Graduate Admissions online. For the 2016–2017 academic year, graduate applications are due Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 5pm.

2. Submit the written portion of your application

Stanford TAPS requires that you prepare certain written application materials to accompany your application, including a Statement of purpose, an Artistic Statement, a list of your Production Experience and a current Resume/CV, and two samples of written critical work, not exceeding 25 pages total.

The application also requires letters of recommendation. When applying online, you will be asked to submit the names, titles, addresses, institution or business names, and email addresses of your three recommenders, and they will be notified of how to upload their letters electronically.

: All applicants are required to complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The GRE report/score must be from an exam taken within the last 5 years.

3. Interview

An invitation to interview may be extended by the end of January. For more information about graduate study at Stanford, visit the Registrar's Graduate Admissions page.


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: TAPS 311, 312 or 315, 313, 314

3. Four additional graduate seminars within the Department of TAPS to be worked out with the adviser.

4. Four workshops in directing: TAPS 371, 372, 373, 376.

In the first year students take TAPS 371 Performance Making, which focuses on generating original creative work through a range of techniques. Also in the first year, students usually take TAPS 372 Directing Workshop: The Actor-Director Dialogue, which explores the relationship between acting and directing and actors and directors.

In the second year students take TAPS 373 Theater Production Lab: Dramaturgy and Development which focuses on honing aesthetic and production skills for mounting a piece of work.
TAPS 376 Projects in Performance is the production and performance of creative work during the Winter quarter of the 2nd year, a project that is approved by the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) and supervised by a faculty member.

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

(a) Language Requirement

The student 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 a 100-level or higher foreign language course at Stanford.

(b) Three Examinations

    (1) First-Year Comprehensive Exam: The first year exam is based on a reading list of dramatic works. This list is sent to students in the summer before the first quarter of study begins. Students sign up for the 2 unit course TAPS 336 Comprehensive 1st Year Exam to prepare. The exam is due at the end of the Winter quarter.  The exam consists of two parts: a closed book, in-class exam made up of identification questions given in February, and an open book, take-home exam made up of several essay questions that is completed over the weekend following the in-class portion of the exam. 

    (2) Second-Year Qualifying Exam: The qualifying examination consists of two 20-25 page essays. Each of these essays should demonstrate knowledge of a historical pre-20th century period. Essay topics are chosen in consultation with a faculty adviser. The reading list for each essay must be approved by the end of the first year. These essays should not duplicate any written work from seminars. The Graduate Studies Committee reads and evaluates these essays. The first essay is due in the autumn quarter. Candidates must choose from the following historical periods: Ancient/Classical, Medieval and Renaissance, and 17th-, 18th-, or early 19th-century.The performance project is completed in the winter quarter of the second year, and supervised by one or more faculty members. Faculty work with the student throughout autumn and winter quarters on the production, and attend a combination of dress rehearsals or final performances as part of the evaluation. After the performance, the student participates in a viva voce, or talk-back, with the supervising faculty. Students register for TAPS 376 Projects in Performance for 4 units while completing their 2nd-year project.

    (3) Third-Year Department Oral Exam: The department oral examination requires three faculty members, at least two from the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, who most likely form the dissertation reading committee. This exam is based on a 2-3 page summary of the project and several readings of the literature for the dissertation that the student creates in conjunction with the committee. This exam should be taken by the middle of spring quarter in the third year.

(c) 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, or before, 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. The prospectus should be 5-8 pages and minimally cover three things: the research question and context, the methodology for research, and a complete chapter by chapter plan.

(d) Defense of Dissertation

In Theater and Performance Studies, the University oral examination takes the form of a dissertation defense. A full draft of the dissertation must be submitted at least 75 days before the proposed degree conferral. The examining committee consists of five faculty members: one faculty chair from outside the department who does not share an appointment with the department of any of the examiners, the student's primary adviser, two additional readers who are familiar with the dissertation project, and a fifth faculty member attending the oral examination. 

(e) Assistantships: Research (RA) and Teaching (TA)

Students must participate in seven quarters of assistantship in Theater and Performance Studies: 

(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 TA-ship at half time are a required part of the Ph.D. program. The requirement is normally met by serving as a TA for three courses during the fourth year and one course during the fifth year.

5. Application for Candidacy. At the end of the second year of study, the Graduate Studies Committee makes a decision on whether or not to admit an individual student to candidacy. Based on its evaluation of the student, the Graduate Studies Committee certifies the student's qualifications for candidacy. Candidacy is an important decision grounded in an overall assessment of a student’s ability to complete the Ph.D. program at a high level. As detailed in the department’s Graduate Handbook, there are prerequisites for admission to candidacy: the completion of specified coursework, the first-year qualifying exam, the second-year qualifying papers and the language requirement.

However, fulfillment of these prerequisites and grades in courses constitute only a part of the evidence weighed by faculty in making this judgment. Since the Ph.D. is conferred upon candidates who have demonstrated through their dissertation the ability to conduct substantive, original research that contributes to knowledge in theater and performance studies, the candidacy decision also rests upon indicators of the student's ability to conduct work in the field. 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. Failure to advance to candidacy results in the dismissal of the student from the program.

6. DissertationIdeally the Ph.D. program in TAPS 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.

7. Satisfactory Progress, Annual Review. The program and progress of each student must be evaluated by the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) at the end of each academic year. At the end of the first year, the departmental 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.

For more specific information on the TAPS Ph.D., visit the TAPS section of the current Stanford Bulletin.




Angela Farr Schiller
Assistant Professor, Kennesaw State University

Ryan Tacata
Visiting Faculty, San Francisco Art Institute


Sebastián Calderón Bentin
Assistant Professor, New York University

Lindsey Mantoan
Lecturer, Stanford University

Matthew Moore
Lecturer, Muhlenberg College

Jessica Nakamura
Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno


Derek Miller
Assistant Professor, Harvard University

Ciara Murphy
ACLS Public Fellow, The Public Theater, New York

VK Preston
Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University

Michael St. Clair
Lecturer, Stanford University


Ileana Drinovan
Founder/Artistic Director, The Santozeum

Florentina Mocanu-Schendel
Visiting Lecturer, University of San Francisco

Nia Witherspoon
Assistant Professor, Florida State University


Douglas Jones
5-Year Postdoc, Princeton University

Rachel Anderson-Rabern
Project with Ethics of Durational Performance with David Calder, Northwestern University


Micaela Sanchez-Diaz
Postdoc, Northwestern

Dan Sack
Postdoc, Amherst

Matthew Daube
Teaching Fellowship, Stanford (I-HUM)


Rachel Joseph
Assistant Professor, Trinity


Barry Kendall
CEO Commonweal Institute

Michael Hunter
Teaching Fellowship, Stanford (I-HUM)


Kris Salata
Assistant Professor, Florida State

Kyle Gillette
Assistant Professor, Trinity University (Texas)

Shawn Kairschner
Assistant Professor, Villanova

James Lyons


Alma Martinez
Associate Professor, Pomona


Irma Mayorga
Assistant Professor, Dartmouth College

Faedra Chatard
Assistant Professor, University of Maryland


Brandi Catanese
Associate Professor, UC Berkeley

Jisha Menon
Assistant Professor, Stanford


Telory Davies
Assistant Professor, Missouri State


Venus Reese
Associate Professor, University of Texas at Dallas


Margaret Booker
Freelance Directing

Jacalyn Royce
Assistant Professor, University of Puget

Shannon Steen
Associate Professor, UC Berkeley

Evan Winet
Law School


Phaedra Bell
UCSF Medical School

Thomas Freedland
Assistant Professor, Stanford (CTL)