Performance Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Graduate Group in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley provides an interdisciplinary and individually crafted curriculum directed at advanced studies in the literatures, performances, cultural contexts, and theories of performance throughout the world. Based in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, the PhD program in Performance Studies takes advantage of Berkeley’s distinguished history in the field of drama and theater studies and opens out to a wider interrogation of the disciplines and methodologies of performance studies. The program is administered by the Graduate Group in Performance Studies, comprised of faculty from a wide range of related departments. Students in the Performance Studies PhD program conduct research in a diverse array of interdisciplinary methodologies, on projects spanning the fields of theater, dance, and performance studies.

Visit Graduate Group Website


Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

The graduate group admissions committee seeks applicants with qualities that will enable them to succeed in an intensive interdisciplinary program: creativity and analytical skills, practical experience, individual initiative, and intellectual rigor. Priority will be given to applicants whose research interests dovetail well with current faculty resources. Candidates holding a bachelor’s or master’s degree in theater, literature, performance studies, dance, or any appropriate humanities-related field are eligible to apply for admissions. The graduate group is particularly interested in applicants who have already formulated a specific focus of interest, including professional theater or dance practitioners who demonstrate a capacity for and training in advanced scholarly study. Please see the graduate group webpage for additional admission information

As part of the application, you will be asked to submit the following:

  1. All college transcripts
  2. Three letters of recommendation
  3. TOEFL scores (if applicable)
  4. Resume/CV

  5. Personal Statement

  6. Statement of Purpose

  7. Critical Writing Sample (15-20 pages)

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement

Normative time to advancement is three years.

Normative Time in Candidacy

Normative time in candidacy is three years.

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is six years.

Time to Advancement


The following is a breakdown of requirements to be fulfilled during the student’s first five semesters of study. All courses must be taken for letter grades.  For additional information, please see the graduate group Program of Study

Core Colloquia
THEATER 200AIntroductory Colloquium on Interdisciplinary Research in Performance2
THEATER 200BResearch Colloquium2
THEATER 200BResearch Colloquium2
Core Seminars
THEATER 201APerformance Theory: Key Topics4
THEATER 201BPerformance Theory: Enduring Debates4
THEATER 202Methodologies in Performance Studies4
THEATER 203Performance Practicum: Bodies, Space, and Time4
Complete eight additional 4-unit graduate seminars, including at least two different Theater 266 seminars. See below for details.
Pedagogy Courses
THEATER 375Teaching Reading and Composition in Performance Studies2
See below for details.
Performance Studies Electives

Two different THEATER 266 seminars (4 units each) must be taken in the first five semesters in the program.

Complete at least two graduate seminars offered by the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. Only THEATER 266, not Theater 299, may fulfill this requirement and all electives must be discussed with the Head Graduate Advisor and approved before the start of each semester.

Additional Electives

Six additional graduate seminars (4 units each) offered by any department must be taken in the first five semesters in the program.

Complete at least 6 additional graduate seminars (200 level) offered by any department at UC Berkeley, may include additional THEATER 266 seminars. All electives must be discussed with the Head Graduate Advisor and approved before the start of each semester.

Pedagogy Courses

To prepare for appointment as a graduate student instructor (GSI), students are required to take THEATER 375 in the fall semester of the first year (this course is not offered in the spring). Also, GSIs for TDPS enroll each semester in THEATER 300 with their teaching supervisor.


Students sit their qualifying exams in their sixth semester before proceeding to the dissertation.

Time in Candidacy

For additional information, please see the graduate group Program of Study


During the dissertation phase, students are expected to submit a copy of their dissertation prospectus (by the end of the seventh semester).

Fifth Year Presentation

Students give a public presentation of their research in the ninth semester.


Students are expected to complete their dissertations within the normative time frame (i.e., 12 semesters from the start of the program).


Performance Studies

Faculty and Instructors


Brandi N. Catanese, Associate Professor. African-American Drama and Theater.
Research Profile

Abigail T. De Kosnik, Associate Professor. Technology and Performance, Artistic Appropriation and Remix, Ethnicity, Gender, and Digital Culture, Cultural Studies, Subcultures and Fan Cultures, Marxism and Post-Structuralism .
Research Profile

Julia Fawcett, Associate Professor. Restoration and 18th Century Theater and Performance, Performance Historiography, Intersections Between Literature and Performance, Autobiographical Performance, Urban Space, Celebrity, Gender, and Disability Studies .

Peter Glazer, Associate Professor. Directing, Adaptation, Performance Theory, 20th century American Theater, Commemorative Performance .
Research Profile

* Mark Griffith, Professor. Classical drama and performance, Greek and Latin literature.
Research Profile

Shannon Jackson, Professor and Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts + Design. Performance Studies, Contemporary theater, American cultural history and Performance Historiography, Adaptation.
Research Profile

SanSan Kwan, Associate Professor. Critical Dance Studies, Transnational Asian American Studies, Cultural Geography, Theories of Space and Kinesthesia, Interculturalism, Modern Dance, Ballet, and Yoga.
Research Profile

Angela Marino, Associate Professor. Politics and performance in the Americas, Latin/o American performance and dramatic literature, popular fiesta and carnival theory.
Research Profile

Laura E. Perez, Professor. Post-1965 U S Latina/o Visual, Performance, and Literary Arts, U S women of color feminist, queer thought, cultural studies, decolonial aesthetics and decolonial spiritualities .
Research Profile

Juana Maria Rodriguez, Professor. Queer Theory and Cultural Activism, Latin@ Popular Cultures, Performance Studies, Critical Race Theory, Sex and Sexuality Studies, Technology and Media Arts .

Miryam Sas, Professor. 20th century poetry, Japanese Experimental Theater and Dance, Memory and Trauma, Mass Media and Cultural Studies, Film.
Research Profile

Mary Ann Smart, Professor. Opera, music and gender, music and politics, historical acting and staging, live performance and technology in contemporary opera.
Research Profile

Shannon Steen, Associate Professor. Performance and critical race studies (especially the intersection of African and Asian American histories), American Studies, globalization and American urban development, and post/modernisms.

Minh-Ha Trinh, Professor. Feminist Theory, Film Theory and production, Comparative Literary and Art Theory, Cultural Politics, Third World Arts and Politics.
Research Profile

Sophie Volpp, Associate Professor. Classical Chinese performance, Chinese literature of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, history of performance, gender theory, the history of sexuality, and the representation of material culture .
Research Profile

Alexei Yurchak, Associate Professor. Theories of discourse, power and performance, the politics of aesthetics, irony and ideology, contemporary media, Russian informal art, Soviet state socialism and postsocialism, cities and urban space.
Research Profile

Affiliated Faculty

Paola Bacchetta, Professor. Transnational feminist and queer theories, inseparabilities of gender, sexuality, 'race'-racism, postcoloniality, Hindu nationalism, global political conflict, feminist and queer of color, and right wing movement discourses and practices in the U S , India and France, transnational feminist and queer alliances.
Research Profile

Charles L. Briggs, Professor. Performing the diseased body and its therapeutic intervention, biomedical and vernacular, theorizing relations between narrative and violence, mediatization and its reified objects, creating modern subjects by creating their 'traditional' Others.
Research Profile

Julia Q. Bryan-Wilson, Professor. Theories of artistic labor, feminist and queer theory, performance, production/fabrication, craft histories, photography, video, visual culture of the nuclear age, and collaborative practices.
Research Profile

Judith Butler, Professor. Performance and identity, gender and sexual politics, human rights, anti-war politics, messianic gestures in Kafka and Benjamin, philosophical fictions in Freud’s work, gender in translation.
Research Profile

* Nadia Ellis, Associate Professor. African diasporic, Caribbean, and postcolonial literatures and cultures.

Joe Goode, Professor. Choreography and interdisciplinary performance.

Jocelyne Guilbault, Professor. Ethnomusicology, Caribbean Musics (popular and traditional), Creolization, Power, Cultural Politics, Nationalism, Diaspora.
Research Profile

Andrew Jones, Professor. Children’s Literature, Chinese Popular Music, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Literary Translation, Media Technology, Modern Chinese Fiction, Sonic Culture.
Research Profile

Anton Kaes, Professor. Modern German theater (Expressionism, Brecht, and the theater of the 1920s), postmodernist theater and film, the relationship between theater and film, theory of film, Critical Theory, and Cultural Studies.
Research Profile

John Lie, Professor. Social theory, political economy, Korean diaspora.
Research Profile

Dan O'Neill, Associate Professor. Meiji print culture and literature, Taishô aesthetics, postwar intellectual history and popular culture, the novel in comparative perspective, global modernisms, and critical theory (particularly in relation to affect and aesthetics).

Beth Piatote, Associate Professor. Native American literature, history, law and culture, Native American/Aboriginal literature and federal Indian law in the United States and Canada, American literature and cultural studies, Ni:mi:pu: (Nez Perce) language and literature.
Research Profile

* Susan Schweik, Professor. Disability Studies, Poetry, 20th-Century American Literature, 19th-Century American literature, Cultural Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity.
Research Profile

Darieck Scott, Associate Professor. 20th and 21st century African American literature, creative writing, queer theory, and LGBTQ studies, race, gender and sexuality in fantasy, science fiction, and comic books.

Contact Information

Graduate Group in Performance Studies

15A Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-7613

Visit Graduate Group Website

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Avy Valladares, PhD

15A Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-7613

Head Graduate Advisor

Julia Fawcett, PhD

15K Dwinelle Hall

Back to Top