Ph.D. in Theatre

Ph.D. in Theatre

The doctoral program in the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University is especially designed for those students planning careers as faculty members in higher education with a degree emphasis in the theories (both historical and contemporary), histories, and cultural applications of theatre and performance in various contexts. It is this aspect of the program that prepares students to contribute meaningfully to theatre and performance scholarship and to be effective teachers within those disciplines.

Practically, the course of study aims to prepare graduates to conduct original research in a way that will contribute to the level of scholarship in the student's area of specialization, to teach, and to participate in theatre production in educational settings in a range of capacities. Accordingly, students are evaluated in three areas: scholarship, teaching ability, and artistry. 

While the mission of the Department is to prepare graduates who approach the theory and practice of theatre and performance in an integrated manner, it should be understood that the primary emphasis of any doctoral program in the arts focuses on historical, theoretical and pedagogical approaches to the subject matter rather than solely or even predominantly on artistic practice.

It should also be noted that in addition to offering a degree in film at the undergraduate level, the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University also contributes in meaningful ways to the graduate level media studies program that is offered through the American Culture Studies program. 

Creativity - Inventive practice within and beyond the traditions and processes of theatre and film performance, including expressive application of the various technologies of performance. To do so requires

Collaboration - as a necessary process of inquiry in creative activity. To do so requires

Communication - fluency in the various languages of artistic expression (both high and low cultural forms) and critical practice (textual as well as applied).To do so requires

Commitment - to the processes of artistic practice as collaboration and commitment to the larger critical values associated with the role of theatre and film in society as an agent of personal expression as well as public discourse. To do so requires an awareness of

Community - an understanding of social responsibility and individualism and the ability and desire to contribute to each within and outside the academy as scholar-artist-citizens.

The doctoral faculty in the Department of Theatre and Film are accomplished researchers and artists. Many serve or have served as leaders in numerous regional, national and international scholarly organizations, including the editorial boards of a number of refereed scholarly journals. Individual members of the faculty serve or have served as senior editor for Theatre Annual and editor for Theatre Topics and Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism.

Members of our faculty have published or are contracted to publish book length studies with:

  • University of Michigan Press
  • University of Mississippi Press
  • Southern Illinois University Press
  • Alta Mira Press
  • Wayne State University Press
  • Scarecrow Press
  • University of Alabama Press

Essay length studies authored by our faculty have appeared in numerous prestigious journals including:

  • The Drama Review
  • Text and Performance Quarterly
  • Theatre Topics
  • Theatre Annual
  • Journal of American Drama and Theatre
  • Theatre History Studies
  • Qualitative Inquiry
  • Women's Studies Quarterly
  • Popular Culture Review
  • Spectator
  • International Review of Qualitative Research
  • Qualitative Inquiry

In terms of artistry, the doctoral faculty has and continues to be involved practically in theatre in both university and professional contexts, participating as performers, directors, and dramaturges.

The Department of Theatre and Film accepts two to four new students into the Ph.D. program annually. We seek to accept students who we believe are capable of contributing to the scholarly conversations in the field and, at the same time, excel as theatre educators and artists. Successful applicants will have already earned the M.A. degree in theatre or a related or cognate field (e.g., English, Communications, Performance Studies, History), and demonstrate their skills as readers and writers through the application materials they submit. 

Students apply for admission through the Bowling Green State University Graduate College website.

Applicants must have completed a Bachelors degree and have completed or be on course to complete a Masters degree by the time they would be admitted to the program in order to apply for the doctoral degree in Theatre.

GRE scores are required for consideration of admission.

In addition to the Graduate College requirements, student should send the following material directly to the Department of Theatre and Film Graduate Coordinator, Jonathan Chambers, PhD.

  • Three letters of Recommendation. The letters should speak directly to the applicant’s potential for success in a graduate program in Theatre that focuses on the theoretical, historical, critical and cultural scholarly applications of performance and theatre.
  • A Sample of the Student’s Written Scholarship. The sample should demonstrate the student’s strength as a writer as well as the student’s interest in an area of performance and/or theatre scholarship.
  • A Personal Statement of Intent detailing the student’s purpose for enrolling in the program and outlining his or her career goals (no more than three pages).
  • The Application for Assistantship is required if the student is requesting funding (due no later than January 15th to be considered for admission in the subsequent fall).

In an extraordinarily competitive job market, the Ph.D. graduates from the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University do exceedingly well. Over  95% of our graduates have found employment within higher education at institutions across the country and around the world. Generally, our students find employment in institutions that approach theatre studies in the liberal arts tradition.

Successful Ph.D. graduates have secured employment in higher education at Lander University, the College of William and Mary, Lafayette College, University of North Dakota, Ashland University, John Carroll University, Hillsdale College, Goshen College, Central Missouri State University, Truman State University, Northwestern College, California University of Pennsylvania, Seattle Pacific University, University of Otago in New Zealand, Stetson University, Charleston Southern University, Virginia Wesleyan, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Texas A & M University -Commerce, University of Toledo, Cerro Coso Community College, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Kennesaw State University, and National Taiwan University.

Recent Ph.D. thesis include:

“Unmasking Talchum: An Embodied Inquiry into Korea’s Masked Dance-Drama”

“Revelations of a Genealogy: Biblical Women in Performance during Twentieth-Century American Feminisms”

“Rethinking Artaud’s Theoretical and Practical Works”

“Eric Bentley’s 'Double' Lives”

“Woman Writes Herself: Exploring Identity Construction in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Pioneer Girl”

“Musical Theatre in the Mountains: An Examination of West Virginia Public Theatre's History, Mission, Practices, and Community Impact”

“Towards the Horsewoman: Performing Femininity in the American Horse Training and Riding Arenas”

“Miss Homegrown: The Performance of Food, Festival, and Femininity in Local Queen Pageants”

“Playing (With) Space in the 'Author on the Wheel'”

“Culture, Crisis, and Community: Christianity in North American Drama at the Turn of the Millennium

Date of last review: University Program Review in 2005-2006 & National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) accreditation revalidated in 2001-2002.

Date of next scheduled review: NAST accreditation revalidation in Academic Year 2014-2015

The student develops the degree program and pursues the degree in a close relationship with a faculty advisor.  Decisions are made by the student with the advice and help of the advisor.

Initially, and continuing for the first two years, advising is accomplished in conference with the Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Jonathan Chambers. Coursework is not solely determined by the student’s interests, but depends upon program requirements and course schedules and availability.

Near the beginning of the second year of study, each student, in consultation with Dr. Chambers, should choose a permanent advisor suitable to direct the student’s course of study and assemble a departmental committee of three or four. The student’s permanent advisor and committee are verified in writing by submitting the Coordinator/Chair Committee Approval Form.  In addition to the advisor and committee members, the Graduate Coordinator and Department Chair must sign this form.  

Only Department of Theatre and Film doctoral faculty members who have been granted Regular Graduate Faculty status are eligible to chair dissertations. The following faculty members in the Department of Theatre and Film currently have Regular Graduate Faculty status and are eligible to chair doctoral committees:

Dr. Cynthia Baron
Dr. Jonathan Chambers
Dr. Eileen Cherry-Chandler
Dr. Michael Ellison
Dr. Lesa Lockford

The permanent advisor will assist the student with his/her course of study and with preparation for the Qualifying Examination (i.e., Exams Stage I), and as chairperson for the Specialized Portfolio (i.e., Exams Stage II), dissertation prospectus, research and writing of the dissertation, oral defense, and preparation of the final manuscript for submission to the Graduate College.  

Although students are not encouraged to change advisors, they may do so whenever a change is warranted.  Such a change would be considered appropriate if a student decides to change his or her primary area of research specialization, or if faculty newly eligible to advise Ph.D. committees (new hires or people who attain Regular Graduate Faculty status during the student’s course of study) have expertise in the student’s research area.  Usually such changes are mutually agreed upon by the student and the advisor.  A student wishing to change advisors should submit a written request to the Graduate Coordinator and are subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and the Departmental Chair.  It is imperative that any student wishing to change advisors consults directly with the current advisor to discuss the situation before moving forward.  Needless to say, students should communicate their plans in this regard clearly to all parties involved as early in the process as possible.

Ph.D. students on assistantship are normally awarded a half-time contract for a nine-month period, which carries a 20 hours per week service obligation.  Whenever possible, students’ preferences are taken into consideration in making these assignments though departmental needs must take priority.  All questions in regards to assistantship assignments in the Department of Theatre and Film should be addressed to the Chair, Professor Steven Boone.  Mostly, Ph.D. students in the Department of Theatre and Film are given assignments in teaching and/or production during any given semester.  

A.  Renewals of Assistantships:
Renewal of an assistantship is not automatic.  Students must formally reapply through the Chair of the Department of Theatre and Film.  Application guidelines for reappointment will be provided during the spring term (usually in February).  Such applications will be evaluated by the Chair on the basis of the following criteria:

-Satisfactory progress toward the degree in accord with expectations and timeliness articulated by the department
-Satisfactory performance of assistantship duties
-Availability of funds
-Departmental staffing needs

Ph.D. assistantships usually are eligible for renewal for up to potentially four years of on-campus study. Given the ever-present possibility of funding cuts for graduate study, students are encouraged to seek assistantships in other areas on campus if they have appropriate qualifications for available positions.

B. Removal of Assistantship:
An assistantship may be taken from a student for any one of the following reasons:

1. Failure to make satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree.
2. Inadequate performance of the duties associated with the assistantship.

a. If teaching a course this includes (but is not limited to), failure to follow and execute in good faith course syllabus, guidelines and objectives as determined by the departmental course coordinator; failure to attend regularly scheduled course planning sessions (usually weekly) as determined by the departmental course coordinator; and failure to complete departmental and university course evaluations.
b. If in a non-teaching assignment this includes (but is not limited to), failure to complete duties and satisfy hour requirements as determined by supervising personnel.

3. Failure to maintain minimum registration (at least 9 semester hours of graduate credit per semester).
4. Academic suspension for ethical or legal misconduct as specified in student code.

C.  Summer Assistantships:
On occasion, the Department of Theatre and Film offers a limited number of assistantship positions in the summer.  The exact number of positions varies from year to year and is dependent on instructional and production program needs. Graduate students should not assume they will automatically receive summer assistantships if requested.  

D.  Dissertation Fellowship:
The Department of Theatre and Film typically offers one non-service fellowship on a competitive basis each year to an exceptionally qualified doctoral candidate in his/her final year of study. This non-service fellowship carries a waiver of instructional fees, and a stipend that is at least the equivalent of a half-time contract for a specified period (one semester or two consecutive semesters). The two objectives of this fellowship are to improve the quality of the dissertation and to assist the progress of students through the doctoral program. The qualifications are:

1. Only doctoral students who are on track to have completed all requirements for ABD status before commencement of the fellowship are eligible.

2. It is expected that students receiving this award will be entering their final year of eligibility for University support.

3. The student must have his/her dissertation topic approved at all levels including the Graduate College before the first pay period of the academic year for which the fellowship was granted.

In consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, the student will register for a specified number of credit hours for the duration of the fellowship. Typically, full-time enrollment (9 credit hours of THFM 7990 per semester) would be expected. However, this number will vary depending upon the student’s progress in the program. The student must be supervised by his/her major professor. Research work, course work, and dissertation work are to be carried out at BGSU unless off-campus study has been approved. Information pertaining to application for the non-service fellowship is available from the Graduate Coordinator in the beginning of spring semester.

A.  Financial Aid:
Any questions concerning financial aid eligibility and maximum allowances should be directed to the Financial Aid office. It is the student’s responsibility to monitor how federal regulations concerning financial aid will have an impact on his or her continuance in graduate education.

B.  Supplemental Employment:
Graduate assistants must confer with the Graduate Coordinator and the Chair of the Department before accepting additional employment, whether on or off campus. Dissertation fellow appointees may not engage in any employment during the period of their appointment. 

A. General Degree Requirements:

1. A minimum of 90 semester credit hours including M.A. degree and dissertation hours.

2. No less than 18 or more than 30 credit hours of THFM 7990, Dissertation Research. Students may list 18 credit hours on the TDP.

3. Language preparation courses may not be included in the minimum of 90 credit hours even though they may be expected or required by the department. (Please see the “Research Tool Requirement” section of this handbook).

4. Undergraduate and M.A. repair courses, and courses that are audited, may not be included in the minimum of 90 credit hours even though they may be expected or required.

5. Thirty hours of credit from a student’s master’s program may be counted toward the minimum 90 credit hours required. Up to 9 additional hours of post M.A. work from another school may be accepted (if these credit hours were earned as doctoral work elsewhere). See the Graduate Catalog for specifics regarding transfer of credit.

6. No more than 6 credit hours of THFM 6880, 7960, or 7970 (Internship or Practicum in Theatre) may be included in the minimum program. These credit hours may potentially be used to satisfy specific program requirements upon approval by the Graduate Coordinator. Approval must be secured in advance of registering for the course.

7. Independent Studies (THFM 7840 or 7850 Directed Readings in Theatre/Performance & THFM 7860 Research Problems in Theatre/Performance) may potentially be taken to fulfill any of the three categories subject to approval by Graduate Coordinator. Approval must be secured in advance of registering for the course. More than two registrations/six credit hours of THFM 7840, 7850, and 7860 will require special justification. 

8. All students must complete the following Research Tool Sequence for a total of 12 credit hours:

THFM 6590 Research Methods in Theatre and Performance Studies

THFM 6630 Introduction to Performance Studies

THFM 7680 Interdisciplinary Theory

THFM 7810 Research and Publication

9. All Students must complete 15 credit hours offered from the History & Literature/Theory/Criticism (HLTC) sequence, and 15 credit hours offered from the Performance Studies/Practice (PSP) sequence. The total number of courses taken in the HLTC and PSP sequences combined is 30. Courses approved for HLTC credit include:

THFM 6600 Theatre/Performance in Cultural Context I

THFM 6610 Theatre/Performance in Cultural Context II

THFM 6650 Period, Style, and Form

THFM 6700 History of Theatre/Performance in the Americas

THFM 7660 Theatre/Performance History: Ancients–16th Century (may be repeated when topic changes)

THFM 7670 Theatre/Performance History: 17th Century–21st Century (may be repeated when topic changes)

THFM 7720 Critical Traditions in Theatre/Performance I

THFM 7730 Critical Traditions in Theatre/Performance II

THFM 7740 Contemporary Theory
THFM 7750 Modernism and Theatre

Courses approved for PSP credit include:

THFM 5630 Performance Composition

THFM 5720 Scene Design

THFM 5730 Costume Design

THFM 5740 Lighting Design

THFM 5750 Scene Painting

THFM 5760 Styles of Rendering for Theatre and Film

THFM 6640 Directing Practice

THFM 6670 Staging Image and Text (may be repeated when topic changes)

THFM 6680 Performance Studies (may be repeated when topic changes)

THFM 6690 Theatre for Young Audiences

THFM 6710 Theatre Organization and Management

THFM 6820 Theatrical Visions (may be repeated when topic changes)

THFM 7600 Theatre/Performance Pedagogy

THFM 7620 Directing and Staging Theory

10. Courses in other departments may in rare cases be taken as a substitute for a required course, upon approval of the Graduate Coordinator.

B. Research Tool Requirement and Foreign Language Proficiency:

All doctoral students are required to take the four courses in the Research Tool sequence. However, should a student wish to pursue dissertation research that requires proficiency in a foreign language, that proficiency must be established through the student’s satisfactory performance on an examination administered by one of the language departments. Students may take the exam on an individual basis after consultation with the appropriate examiner, or may opt to take it at the conclusion of the courses FREN/GERM/SPAN 5000/6000. Taking this course would be in addition to the 90 credit hours required for the degree. The Educational Testing Service’s Graduate School Foreign Language Testing program may also be used to satisfy this requirement.

C. Additional Coursework Option:

Students may substitute some of the THFM 7980 Readings for Preliminary Exam hours taken during the third year of study with additional graduate coursework in the Department of Theatre and Film or in other departments/units. Reasons for taking additional course work are varied, but might include the offering of a class in the department that was not available during the first two years of course work, or the offering of a class in another unit pertinent to the student’s area of dissertation research. Students should consult with his/her permanent advisor and the Graduate Coordinator to determine if this is a viable option. The total number of credit hours taken during either term during the third year of study for students receiving a tuition scholarship may not exceed 8. Students following this option must understand that taking additional coursework during the third year does not relieve them of the responsibility of completely the Preliminary Exam and Prospectus processes in a timely manner as outlined below.


30 hours – MA

12 hours – Research Tool Sequence

15 hours – History & Literature/Theory/Criticism (HLTC)

15 hours – Performance Studies/Practice (PSP)

18 hours – Dissertation


A. Assembling a Committee:

No later than the middle of the first term of the second year of study, the student should submit the names of his or her proposed advisor and committee (Appendix B) to the Graduate Coordinator and Departmental Chair for approval. The majority of the committee must consist of regular members of the Theatre and Film faculty who hold the Ph.D. The committee shall consist of a minimum of two persons in addition to the advisor. All committee members must have graduate faculty status in the Department of Theatre and Film. Non-tenure-track faculty members are not eligible to serve on doctoral committees. The student is responsible for ascertaining each faculty member’s willingness to serve on the committee and having each person sign the required form. This advisor and committee will, at minimum, take the student through the Qualifying Examination and Specialized Portfolio processes and potentially through to the defense of the dissertation.

B. Preparing the Qualifying Examination:

The examination is comprised of a Research Portfolio of two essays not to exceed 45 pages collectively, a two-to-three page rationale of proposed dissertation research, and a reading list comprised of sources in the student’s proposed area of dissertation research and proposed methodology. The essays are revisions of previously written papers prepared during doctoral course work at BGSU. The papers are to be reflective of History & Literature/Theory/Criticism and/or Performance Studies/Practice coursework and demonstrate proficiency and scholarly depth in research and writing. Each student is required to consult with his or her permanent advisor in the process of articulating the contents of the Research Portfolio. The selection of the essays for inclusion in the Research Portfolio is subject to the student’s advisor’s approval. Advisors read and respond to the essays, rationale, and reading list just one time. As such, the responsibility for shaping the examination materials rests primarily with the student. In light of this, the student should understand that the examination is structured to test his/her qualifications, skills, and knowledge. Thus, outside of helping the student determine what essays should be included, discussing with him/her the direction of dissertation research, and providing comments one time on one draft of the materials, the advisor will take an essentially hands-off approach. It is imperative that all the work within the Research Portfolio is the student’s work alone. The student is strictly forbidden from enlisting the help of others for the purposes of editing the contents of the Research Portfolio. Failure to heed this restriction constitutes a breach of academic honesty and may result in termination from the program and/or expulsion from the university.

C. Evaluation of the Examination:

The Research Portfolio is submitted for evaluation early during the second term of the second year of study. More specifically, by February 1st the student will submit the Research Portfolio to the two reading members of his or her committee (i.e., committee members, not the advisor). Each essay will receive an evaluation of “Pass” or “No Pass” from these two members of the committee. In the event of a tie, the advisor will join the process. If the student’s work is evaluated as unsatisfactory (i.e., “No Pass”) by one of the two readers on one of the research papers, the advisor will read and evaluate that essay.  If after the advisor reads the paper, at least two of the three readers deem the paper to be a “No Pass,” the student will need to revise the paper and resubmit it for evaluation no later than April 1st. If the student’s work is evaluated as unsatisfactory by two of the three readers on both of the research papers, she or he will be required to retake the examination during the subsequent semester of study (i.e., fall of the third year) and will not be eligible for third year funding (i.e., assistantship and/or tuition scholarship). Additionally, the student may be required to complete additional course work. After the student’s work has been evaluated, the student’s committee may provide written feedback. The Graduate Coordinator will compile the results and written feedback, and notify the student. There will not be an oral defense for the Qualifying Examination. Successful completion of Exams Stage I results in the making of the Application for Preliminary Examination (top half of Appendix F) and the request to the Graduate College to appoint a faculty member from another department to serve as the Graduate College Representative.

D. Failure to Pass the Qualifying Examination:

The student may rewrite the failed exam only one time. Failing satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Examination will result in dismissal from the graduate program.

Once the student has passed the in-house Qualifying Examination, s/he must next complete and pass the Specialized Portfolio. The Graduate College requires that all doctoral students take a “preliminary examination” that is both written and oral. The Department of Theatre and Film meets the requirement through the Specialized Portfolio. The purpose of the Specialized Portfolio is not only to meet the Graduate College preliminary examination requirement but also to allow the student an opportunity to explore his/her area of specialization and to demonstrate a mastery of those issues to be explored in more depth in the dissertation. It is the responsibility of the student and his/her advisor to schedule and plan the Specialized Portfolio.

A. The Preliminary Examination Process:

Once the student has passed the Qualifying Examination, s/he prepares and defends the Specialized Portfolio (Exams Stage II). This takes place in the fall term of the third year of study. The contents of the Specialized Portfolio are initially nurtured through peer and instructor review in THFM 7810: Research and Publication during spring term of the second year of study, and then through fall of year three through consultation with the student’s advisor. The contents of the Specialized Portfolio are then submitted to the student’s entire committee including the appointed Graduate College Representative for review and evaluation. The student will then schedule a meeting with the full committee in order to conduct an oral defense of the Specialized Portfolio. When the full committee determines that the student has satisfied the preliminary examination requirement, all members certify approval by signing the bottom portion of the Preliminary Examination Application/Report form (Appendix F). The student must pass both the written and oral preliminary examinations by December 1st. While students who receive funding through other sources may elect to follow a different timetable, at most, it is expected that all students will successfully defend the Specialized Portfolio within one academic year following the completion of required coursework. Any student who fails to comply with these guidelines will automatically be judged as having failed to make adequate progress towards degree and will be dropped from the program.

B. The Nature and Scope of the Specialized Portfolio:

It is expected that the contents of the Specialized Portfolio will demonstrate the student’s level of preparation to conduct original research that will contribute to scholarship in his or her area of specialization. Each element of critical and scholarly work in the Specialized Portfolio should be suitable for publication. This means that the Portfolio documents must reflect original research, and that they must be written in a professional, error-free manner.


As a general practice, students generate initial drafts of materials for inclusion in the Specialized Portfolio in the course of completing requirements for 6000 and 7000 level seminar courses and focus primarily on revising and expanding these materials during the spring and summer semesters of the second year of study and the fall of the third year. Because preliminary revision often takes place during the student’s enrollment in THFM 7810, Research and Publication in Theatre and Performance Studies (spring semester, second year), students should plan to have written at least initial drafts of all materials intended for inclusion in the Specialized Portfolio prior to the beginning of the spring semester of their second year of coursework. In so doing, students will be able to take advantage of the opportunities for feedback presented in that course. It is expected that students will seek the opinion of their respective advisors as to the suitability of the materials they propose to revise for inclusion in the Specialized Portfolio (at the very least, major components such as the research essay) prior to commencing the spring semester of the second year of study, and that they will remain in dialogue with their advisor throughout the process of revising and developing these materials. It should be decided between the student and the advisor whether other committee members should be asked to offer feedback on the Specialized Portfolio materials while the student is in the process of revision, or whether other committee members should be involved in the process only after the advisor has approved a complete version of the Portfolio for distribution to committee members.  Once again, it is imperative that all the work within the Specialized Portfolio is the student’s work alone. With the exception of the feedback that the student’s work receives from his/her advisor, committee members, and the instructor and students of THFM 7810, the student is strictly forbidden from enlisting the help of others for the purposes of editing the contents of the Specialized Portfolio. Failure to heed this restriction constitutes a breach of academic honesty and may result in termination from the program and/or expulsion from the university.

C. Contents of the Specialized Portfolio:

1. Detailed professional curriculum vitae, suitable for inclusion in a job application packet.

2. Three book reviews (suitable for publication in an academic journal) focusing on recent academic texts in the area of theatre and performance (broadly defined). Length: 1000-1500 words each.

3. One critical performance review, approximately 1000-1500 words in length, (suitable for publication in an academic journal or other trade publication) of a professional performance event.

4. A pedagogical position paper.  This essay, which should be 3-4 pages in length, is a personal statement of teaching philosophy.

5. An article-length work of original research suitable for publication. This should be approximately 25-35 pages in length, should address a well-defined topic in depth, and should make an original contribution to scholarship in the designated research area rather than merely reiterating or synthesizing the work of others. This essay may be an essay refined and developed from the submissions in Exam Stage I. However, any revised paper must be developed beyond the parameters of the earlier draft. Thus, the student must demonstrate his or her endeavors to incorporate feedback provided on the earlier draft, and/or offer new readings or observations other than those made in the earlier draft, and/or include in the study new findings.

5. A more developed iteration of the rationale for the proposed dissertation (i.e., and early draft of the dissertation prospectus).

6. A detailed annotated bibliography in the declared area of dissertation research.

The dissertation must be an appropriate culmination of the candidate’s program of study and must represent scholarly research appropriate in method and subject to the degree program.

A. Advisor:

Typically, the major professor who supervises a student’s course of study is also the dissertation advisor. The advisor must be a member of the theatre graduate faculty who holds a Ph.D., and moreover, must qualify as a member of the Regular Graduate Faculty. Before selecting a dissertation advisor, the student must consult the Graduate Coordinator to determine the potential advisor’s eligibility to direct dissertations.

B. Eligibility and Time Line:

A student must have passed the Preliminary Examination (i.e., Exams Stage II: Specialized Portfolio) before a dissertation topic can be approved. However, the prospectus for the dissertation is initially developed concurrently with the Specialized Portfolio materials in the spring semester of the second year of study and nurtured through peer and instructor review during THFM 7810 Research and Publication. The prospectus is also given additional development in consultation with the student’s advisor during the spring term of the second year of study, and continuing through the third year. In order to ensure adequate progress toward degree, the prospectus should be defended by April 1 of the third year of study.  Generally, students who do not meet this requirement will be ineligible for a renewal of assistantship (i.e., fourth year funding). Regardless of the time line, the prospectus must be defended no less than six months prior to oral defense of the dissertation.

C. Selection of Topic:

The student and his/her advisor explore potential dissertation topics. This process may begin as early in the student’s residency as s/he chooses. The topic area should be well defined during the fall term of the second year of study, and the method of research identified sufficiently early so that the student may have time to accomplish any necessary reading and research. The dissertation is expected to be a scholarly document, making an original contribution to knowledge and demonstrating the student’s potential as a scholar. Potential topics should be carefully researched in advance, in order to be certain that someone else has not investigated them.

D.  Dissertation Committee:

Typically the dissertation committee should include those faculty members who served as assessors for the defense of the Specialized Portfolio (verified by filing Appendix B), along with the Graduate College Representative assigned by the Graduate College (assigned upon submitting Appendix F). Once the committee is officially constituted and approved by the Graduate College, any changes require special approval, which should be sought by means of petition to the Graduate College and must also be endorsed by the Graduate Coordinator and Chair in the Department of Theatre and Film (to do so, complete Appendix C).

E. Prospectus Hearing:

Once the student has the approval of his/her advisor to take the prospectus to committee, s/he will schedule a hearing. At least two weeks before the scheduled meeting the student will provide his/her committee with the dissertation prospectus. The prospectus should not only clearly outline the proposed topic of study, but should also demonstrate the student’s ability to complete the proposed research. In order to satisfy this requirement, the student must demonstrate that s/he is thoroughly familiar with existing scholarship in the chosen area of specialization, and that the work s/he proposes to do will contribute substantially to the scholarly conversation in this area. Students should anticipate that the advisor may ask for substantial revision of the prospectus before allowing the student to distribute the document to the committee as a whole, and should budget their time accordingly. The dissertation prospectus should include the following components:


*Relevant background information to introduce and contextualize the proposed area of research

*Concise statement of the central research questions that the study will address

*Discussion of objectives of the study and justification of its significance

*Review of extant scholarship in the field (Note: A list of titles of other scholarship is not sufficient to satisfy this requirement. The student must demonstrate that s/he is familiar with other work in the research area and that s/he is prepared to enter into scholarly conversation with others who have made contributions in this field.)

*A discussion of the research methods the student will employ in completing the study

*Principle sources of data

*Limitations of the study (Note: Limitations in this context does not mean an “apologia” for the shortcomings of either the researcher or the proposed study. Rather, it is an opportunity to delineate and justify the boundaries of the study—chronological, geographical, types of data to be considered, etc.)

*Tentative organization of the study into chapters (Note: Proposed chapter titles are not sufficient, and should be supplemented by abstracts or tentative summaries of what will be covered in each section)

At the hearing, the student will first orally defend and elaborate on the prospectus and receive feedback from the advisor and the committee on the proposed research project. When the committee members are satisfied that the student is ready to proceed with work on the dissertation, they indicate their formal approval by signing the Thesis/Dissertation Topic Approval form (Appendix G). This form must be filed with the Graduate College at least six months before the student expects to receive the degree. If human subjects are involved in the research (surveys, interviews, questionnaires, etc.) prior approval of the dissertation topic by the BGSU Human Subjects Review Board must be secured.

F. Defense of the Dissertation:

The student works principally with the advisor in researching the topic and writing preliminary drafts. At least two weeks prior to the date when oral defense of the completed dissertation is expected, the student must furnish each member of the committee with a readable draft in good form, including documentation and bibliography.  Committee members may require revision prior to the oral defense. The student meets with the committee and a public audience for oral defense of the dissertation. If the dissertation is successfully defended and the manuscript is acceptable in both content and form, the committee indicates its approval by signing the ETD Submission/Approval Form (Appendix H). It should be noted that the approval form is divided into two sections, “Final Examination Report” and “Manuscript Approval.”  Thus it is possible, even though the final oral examination has been passed, for the committee to request substantive changes or additions before approving the manuscript. In planning to meet Graduate College deadlines, the student should take this possibility under consideration. Only one negative vote is permissible.

G. Abstracts:

An abstract of the dissertation must be provided along with the final draft.  (See “Thesis and Dissertation Handbook” for details)

H. Copyrights and Permissions:

The use of photographs, images, and extended quoted material (i.e., entire published poems, or lengthy quoted material) in a dissertation require the consent of the authors/creators.  It is the student’s responsibility to secure those permissions in writing prior to defense of the dissertation.

I. Final Copy:

The final copy must meet strict Graduate College requirements and style must be thoroughly consistent with one of the major style manuals (e.g., most recent edition of the MLA Handbook or Chicago Style Sheet). The manuscript is expected to adhere to these guidelines as well as those of the Graduate College. The Graduate College requires electronic submission of theses and dissertations. Deadlines for deposit of approved, error-free, electronic copy of the dissertation may be located in the “Important Dates and Deadlines” link on the Graduate College Web Page.


Upon approval of the final manuscript, the signed ETD Submission/Approval Form (Appendix H) is to be taken to the Department of Theatre and Film Administrative Secretary who will make a copy of the form and send it on to the Graduate College. At that time the student is to bring two single-sided, error-free final copies of the dissertation to the Department Secretary along with a check for $50.00 made out to the Department of Theatre and Film. This money is to cover the cost of binding of the student’s dissertation; one copy goes to Department and one goes to the dissertation advisor.

A. Procedures:

1. Registration is completed by the Departmental Administrative Secretary, following consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and/or the student’s advisor.

2. Registration for internships, practicums, independent studies, directed readings, and directed research requires an additional registration approval form (Appendix A), which is obtained from the Administrative Secretary in the main office of the Department of Theatre and Film. Students must complete this form, which must include a brief statement of the independent work or internship, and signatures of approval by the advisor, the person directing the research or internship, and the Chair of the Department.  The Administrative Secretary will register students for these courses after proper registration papers are completed.

3. Changes in registration after the semester begins may result in fees being assessed according to the Registration and Records Refund Schedule. The student will bear the financial burden of those fees.

4. Students wishing to register for courses in other departments are often required to obtain approval in advance from the Graduate Coordinator in that department. Additionally, students must secure approval from the Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Theatre and Film, as well as his/her advisor. When taking courses outside the Department of Theatre and Film, students are advised to meet with the instructor of record during his or her office hours before the first class meeting.

B. Limits on Hours of Registration:

1. Students not on assistantship or fellowship have no minimum registration hours except as noted below.

2. No student may register for more than 18 hours of credit without permission from the Dean of the Graduate College. Permission will not be granted to students on probation. An excess credit fee is charged beyond 18 hours. The student is responsible for this fee.

3. Students holding assistantships are required to register for no more than 9 hours of graduate credit each spring and fall semester.

4. Students may not enroll for dissertation hours until they have successfully defended the Specialized Portfolio and dissertation prospectus.

C. Registration When Not in Residence:

The Graduate College mandates continuous registration for one hour each semester if a student leaves the campus with all requirements for the degree done except the dissertation. This registration is not done automatically. This criterion does not include summer session unless graduating in August.

A. Incompletes:

An INC (incomplete) is given only when, for an approved reason, a student fails to take the final examination or to fulfill a definite requirement in a course. An INC can be removed and a grade substituted if the student completes course requirements to the satisfaction of the instructor prior to the deadline established by the Graduate College. An individual instructor may come to an agreement with his or her student for an earlier deadline for removal of an incomplete grade. For courses taken S/U, any mark of INC not removed by these deadlines will change to U. For courses taken for a letter grade, any mark of INC not removed by these deadlines will change to F. A student cannot graduate with a grade of INC. The Graduate Dean has the authority to extend the deadline for an incomplete. The student must petition for such consideration in writing and prior to the expiration of the deadline. The instructor’s support is required for approval of the request.

B. Grades for THFM 7990:

Grades for THFM 7990 are reported as “Incompletes” until the completed dissertation is approved.

C. Probation:

Students failing to meet the following minimal standards may be dropped from the program or placed on probation at the discretion of the Department of Theatre and Film Graduate Faculty, or the Graduate Dean.

1.  Students must maintain a graduate grade point average of 3.2 or better.

2. Students must make satisfactory progress toward a degree by successfully completing all courses attempted each semester, and passing all exams within periods set forth in this handbook.

Students on probation will be subject to the following regulations:

1. Permission will not be granted to enroll for more than 9 hours of credit.

2. Assistantships may be removed.

Generally, students remaining on probationary status for more than one semester will be dropped from the program.

D. Policy for Dropping Students:

If the Department of Theatre and Film recommends that a student be dropped from a degree program, the student is no longer considered as a degree student, although the student may continue course work. If a student is dropped from a degree program, all assistantship support is terminated. If dropped, the student must petition the department for reinstatement as a degree student. In certain cases, the department may elect to discontinue funding for a student making marginal progress without dropping that person from the program, in which instance the student will be eligible to seek support elsewhere or to cover their educational expenses by other means. In some instances, given just cause, a student may be dropped from the program even if s/he does not receive assistantship support through the Department of Theatre and Film.

E. Revalidation of Course Work

Credit for course work older than eight years will not apply toward degree requirements unless revalidated by retaking the course(s) or by a formal examination. Time spent in the armed forces is exempted in applying this time limitation. The application form is available from the Graduate College must be submitted through the following channels:

            1.  Chair of Department of Theatre and Film

            2.  Theatre and Film Graduate Faculty

            3.  Graduate Coordinator in Theatre and Film

            4.  Graduate Dean

A. Directed Readings, Independent Studies and Directed Research:

THFM 7840, 7850, and 7860 may be taken by doctoral students and included on the TDP under the following conditions:

1. Subject matter not covered by an existing formal course or seminar, which is highly appropriate to a student’s program of study, or

2. A required course cannot be offered within a reasonable time span for degree completion, or

3. A student is engaged in supervised research not leading directly to the dissertation.  

A maximum of two THFM 7840, 7850, and 7860 courses (or a total of six hours) may be included in the minimum required Ph.D. program and counted on the Tentative Degree Program.

B. Evidence of Artistic Ability (Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting, etc.):

All students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in theatre practice by participating in the production program on campus or in the community where their work may be observed by the faculty. This activity may be done on a voluntary basis, for credit under individual registration, or occasionally in discharge of work responsibilities for those on assistantship. Production activity normally is planned in the spring for the following academic year, and those students with production obligations are urged to plan ahead so that the appropriate applications and petitions may be supplied to the faculty in advance. Students with unusual programs may be asked to include participation experiences other than those specified above, as part of their graduate experience. All students, in consultation with his/her advisor, must select an appropriate creative assignment for evaluation and assessment. Once the assignment has been completed, the student will publicly discuss the project in an approved venue, such as the weekly scheduled graduate seminar.

The Tentative Degree Program (TDP) is a form, submitted through the Department of Theatre and Film to the Dean of the Graduate College, specifying all course work and the nature of the degree program.  This proposed course of study established by student and advisor is submitted to the Graduate Coordinator for endorsement.  The Graduate College specifies that the TDP must be submitted before the first year of doctoral work is completed. On the departmental level, we require students to begin the TDP process in the middle of the second semester of study. All courses of study must include:

  1. At least 90 semester credit hours, including the M.A. Degree (30 credit hours) and hours of Dissertation (18 credit hours)

  2. The required courses in various areas, as stipulated under “General Degree Requirements” (pages 5-6 of this handbook).

  3. Audits and undergraduate and M.A. repair courses may not be included in the total even though they may be expected or required.

  4. Students must meet with the Graduate Coordinator and their faculty advisors before completing the TDP.  After a TDP has been submitted, any changes in the TDP must be accomplished in writing, approved by the student’s advisor, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Graduate College on the Addendum to the Tentative Degree Program.

  5. As is the case with all documentation for the degree, students are responsible for collecting all appropriate signatures. Once all signatures have been collected, the student must then take the form to the Administrative Secretary in the Main Office of the Department of Theatre and Film and the appropriate copies will be made and given to the appropriate parties.  Copies must be made before the forms are turned into the Graduate College.

  6. Final TDP Check Prior to Graduation:
    In the semester prior to their graduation, students are responsible for applying for graduation by the deadline set by the Graduate College (Check the “Dates to Remember” link found through the Graduate College Web Page).  Before applying for graduation, each student must meet with his/her advisor to check to see if the courses s/he actually took accord with the plan of study set forth on the originally filed TDP. If there were changes, then an Addendum to the Tentative Degree Program needs to be filed with the department and the Graduate College. After this procedure of checking with the advisor is completed, the student must also have the Graduate Coordinator’s approval that the student’s course of study matches the requirements of the program.  Once the Graduate Coordinator approved the student for graduation, then the student should apply for graduation.