Master's Program in Theater and Performance Studies

The Master’s Program in Theater and Performance Studies at Washington University in St. Louis is one of the strongest programs of its kind. We offer students rigorous scholarly training, opportunities to meet and work with visiting scholars and artists, and support in developing their own independent research projects—all within a collegial, supportive environment that prizes critical thinking and creative practice.

Our students enroll in small, intensive seminars in theater history and performance theory, as well as in studio courses in directing, playwriting, and theatre for social change. There are ample opportunities for interdisciplinary study, and we have strong relationships with affiliate faculty in allied departments, including Film and Media Studies, English, Music, Comparative Literature, African and African American Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Our faculty has been recognized with numerous accolades for both their artistic and their scholarly work, and the small size of each admitted class allows for individual attention and one-on-one mentorship. We routinely place our graduates in top Ph.D. programs in the field, including Brown, Stanford, Northwestern, University of California, San Diego, and University of Minnesota. Other graduates have pursued careers in the arts, social justice work, and education. Whether you studied theater and performance as an undergraduate or are making a new turn in your scholarship, we invite you to learn more about our program.

Program of Study

Learn more about the MA program course of study and requirements.

Review Program Requirements

financial support

The MA in Theater and Performance Studies offers generous support to admitted students. Many of our students receive full tuition remission; select students also receive stipends to assist with living expenses.


The application deadline is February 1, 2024. Applicants must apply to the MA program online. The MA in Theater and Performance Studies no longer requires applicants to submit results from the GRE exam.

Applications for the MA in Theater and Performance Studies require the following:

  • a completed online application plus fee
  • a statement of purpose describing your research interests and your rationale for graduate study
  • a sample of analytical writing (one long or two shorter essays, 15-25 pages total); please upload to the GSAS website under 'Supplemental Forms'
  • transcript(s) from undergraduate institution(s)
  • three letters of recommendation

Still have questions? 

Visit our Admission FAQ

Accelerated MA Degree

WashU undergraduate majors can earn a Master’s Degree in Theater and Performance Studies with one additional year of study, with reduced tuition.

Learn more about the Accelerated MA

A Word From Our Graduates

Eva Huang

Currently Eva is a PhD Student, Theatre and Drama, University of California, Irvine.

Wash U was the place that I first developed my interest in community engagement theatre. I am and will always be missing the kind of intimate support I received at PAD.




Nathan Lamp

Currently Nathan is a PhD Student, Performance Studies at Northwestern University.

The MA program in Theatre & Performance Studies at WashU gave me an excellent foundation not only in the major texts, ideas, and methods of theatre & performance studies scholarship, but also allowed me to grow in my practice as a director, dramaturg, and writer. Classes allowed for intensive scholarly research and intellectual discussion, while never asking me to set aside my artistic and creative impulses or my commitment to social justice causes. I'm now beginning my PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, while continuing to pursue opportunities in directing, dramaturgy, and written/visual art in Chicago. I can't speak highly enough of the faculty and the curriculum. I know I wouldn't be where I am now if not for the excellent foundations I acquired in the MA program as well as the incredibly devoted and caring faculty and staff, who guided me all the way.


Jim Short

Currently Jim is a PhD candidate, Theatre and Drama at the University of California, San Diego.

WashU's MA program in Theatre and Performance Studies gave me the foundation to succeed in academia. The individualized guidance and support from faculty and support staff helped me to grow as a researcher, practitioner, and audience member. The connections between faculty and students foster an environment of mentorship and friendship. I'm happy that these relationships were not severed once I graduated; instead, one of my WashU advisors is now on my dissertation committee.



Keary Watts

Currently Keary is a PhD Candidate, Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama at Northwestern University.

Because of its interdisciplinary commitments, I transitioned from the MA into doctoral study with a solid understanding of multiple fields of inquiry that left me primed to build an interdisciplinary dissertation project with much more confidence than I expected. I'm now a PhD Candidate in IPTD at Northwestern and can confidently say that my skill sets, intellectual curiosity, and determination underwent a maturation process at WashU that continues to be invaluable to the scholar that I am becoming.




Still have questions about the MA Program? Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies.

Email Professor Henke