Redefine the theatre landscape

PhD in Performance Studies

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Performance Studies

The University of Alberta’s Department of Drama is pleased to introduce the only PhD program in English Canada to specialize in Performance Studies.

The deadline for applications to the PhD in Performance Studies - Drama - for start of program in September 2015 is February 7.

Program Description:

The PhD in Performance Studies offers students advanced-level scholarship, study and research in Drama and Performance. The program foregrounds research on a range of activities that places performance on a continuum of cultural discourse and cultural expression. No longer limiting the study of theatre to the written script or conventional stage, Performance Studies is an expanding field that analyzes performance on a continuum of cultural expression, covering such topics as rituals and rites, every day ceremonies and practices, gestural behavior, dance, movement, new media and digital technologies as well as large scale, public and theatrical spectacles.

We encourage PhD candidates to embrace an activist method of research, which refuses and supersedes the

“deeply entrenched division of labor, apartheid of knowledges, that plays out inside the academy as the difference between thinking and doing, interpreting and making, conceptualizing and creating” (Dwight Conquerhood).

The program consists of:


Program Length: 4 years

Students normally must spend their first two years in residence – registered full-time, and physically on campus. Students are encouraged to complete the program in four years and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research has a six year time limit for completion of a PhD.

Ideal Applicants:

Due to the highly interdisciplinary approach of the program, candidates holding a Master’s degree (or its equivalent) in Theatre, Sociology, Cultural Studies, Anthropology, English, Literary Theory, History and Education, with excellent academic standing (minimum GPA 3.5) are all encouraged to apply.

Successful candidates must normally demonstrate to the Department familiarity with the artistic and practical components of theatre art, as well as sufficient preparation in theatre history and criticism; for those with other performance studies-oriented Masters degrees, additional foundation courses in Drama may be required.

We are able to accept one candidate per year.

Why choose UAlberta for your PhD?


  • One-of-a-Kind Program in Canada
    While other PhD programs in Theatre and Drama exist in English Canada, ours is the only PhD to specialize in Performance Studies.
  • Small-enrollment
    We are able to accept one PhD candidate per year, allowing for optimum use of our expert supervisory capacity.
  • Interdisciplinary
    In addition to the expertise of scholars and theatre practitioners from within the Department (see Faculty bios), the program is backed by an academic advisory group composed of colleagues from within the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts , Campus St. Jean, Augustana Faculty and beyond, who will contribute interdisciplinary and varying cultural perspectives to students’ investigations.
  • Rich culture of creation and performance
    The practical theatre requirement of involvement in one major or two minor roles as actors, directors, designers, playwrights or dramaturgs offers students the opportunity to integrate theory and practice with access to the excellent facilities at the University of Alberta as well as the opportunity to engage with the vibrant theatre community in Edmonton.
  • Excellent Library Resources
    The University of Alberta library system offers the second biggest collection of journal titles in the area of Performance Studies after the University of Toronto. The University of Alberta’s Bruce Peel Special Collection offers a substantial collection of archives, manuscripts, playbills, rare translations and other rare items related to theatre and performance and is complemented by the holdings at Bibliotheque St. Jean, and the performance related audio-visual material held in the Department of Drama.


PhD in Performance Studies

Contacts: Ruth Vander Woude, Graduate Advisor
Phone: 780.492.2274

Dr. Piet Defraeye, PhD Performance Studies Program Coordinator
Email: Phone: 780.492.1097

Application procedures for PhD in Performance Studies:

  1. Apply for admission to the University of Alberta's Faculty of Graduate Studies and submit your $100 (Canadian) processing fee online by Feb. 7.

  2. Application materials include:
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended
  • CV
  • Writing sample on a drama-related topic  (preferably a published paper or review)
  • Research Proposal
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB score, when applicable