The department's deadline for admission is January 15, 2016. This deadline is for both regular and accelarated candidates, but please note the different application processes for each.
Non-accelerated AM candidates must apply to the AM program online at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences homepage and follow the specific instructions contained there. Applications for the AM in Theater and Performance Studies require the following:
- a completed online application plus fee
- a personal statement describing your primary area(s) of interest 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'
- results of the GRE (please direct results to Washington University, code 6929)
- transcript(s) from undergraduate institution(s)
- three letters of recommendation
Students applying to the Accelerated AM program must send all application materials via email directly to the Director of Graduate Studies. Please click here or on the "Accelerated AM Degree" tab to the left for information on applying to the Accelerated AM program.
Frequently Asked Questions about Admissions
What is the primary focus of this AM degree, and what is the difference between a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree?
The Master’s Program in Theater and Performance Studies is a Master of Arts (or, in Latin, “Artium Magister,” AM) degree. As such, it is focused primarily on the academic study of theater and performance—such as theatre history, dramatic criticism and theory, performance theory, comparative study of performance in global cultures, etc.—and not on practical training in the performing arts. We do, of course, recognize the importance of practical training for the scholarly study of theater and performance, which is why we require at least one (and up to three) practice-oriented courses. Most of our students will go on to get a PhD, and many do so with the intent of including directing among their anticipated duties of teaching and publishing in a college or university setting. Likewise, our students who go on to careers as dramaturgs and literary managers find their academic training helpful in solving problems encountered in arts practice research. The primary difference between an AM and an MFA degree is thus one of emphasis; while an AM trains scholars, the MFA trains artists—both in the specificities of their craft.
What are the most important parts of my application?
The most important parts of your application are the statement of purpose and the writing sample(s). Your statement of purpose should explain your background in theater and performance studies, your research interests, and your academic and professional goals, noting why you think they would be best served by our program. Your writing sample(s) should demonstrate your ability to think critically and write clearly. Although you are advised to submit a sample that demonstrates your familiarity with theater and/or performance studies, the topic is less important than the quality of thought that the essay reveals.
What kind of financial aid is available?
Qualified AM students typically receive a 50% tuition remission (TR) scholarship from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS). While the department may request a higher award (e.g., for exceptional merit or in cases of pressing financial need), the Graduate Dean ultimately makes that decision. Please contact GSAS for information about or assistance with guaranteed student loans. Each student also receives an assignment as an Instructional Assistant (IA), a position that offers a $4000/semester stipend, while providing hands-on training in teaching and classroom management. All AM students are guaranteed at least one such position during their four semesters to degree, and often receive more than one assignment, depending on departmental need.
How important is the GRE? Is there a required minimum?
Because we recognize that GRE scores do not necessarily predict academic success, we do not dismiss any application on the basis of the GRE score alone. Nevertheless, we do take these scores into consideration, and if they are not above average, we expect the rest of the application to assure us of the candidate’s promise to succeed.
I am an international student. Is this a problem? Is there a minimum TOEFL score required?
We welcome applications from international scholars, and are proud to have international students currently in our graduate class and numbered among our alumni. In assessing applications from such students, we defer to the University, which recommends that the score on the internet-based TOEFL exam be no less than 90. This baseline score helps to ensure that our non-native English-speaking students achieve success in the program, given the rigorous demands of advanced coursework.
I am thinking about applying to the AM Program in Theater and Performance Studies. Should I schedule a trip to campus?
Yes, you’re welcome to visit campus as you consider making an application to our program. Please contact us in advance and we will arrange for you to meet with faculty in your proposed area of research as well as current students. Such an opportunity will also allow you sit in on one of our graduate classes.
I have been offered admission to the AM Program in Theater and Performance Studies. Can I come to campus to look around?
Yes, we encourage you to do so, and in fact bring all admitted applicants to campus between the January submission and April decision deadlines. Typically, these visits occur in late February or early March and feature lectures by leading scholars and/or tickets to a Performing Arts Department (PAD) performance. For such visits, we cover travel expenses, arrange for informal housing (often with current graduate students), and provide meals while you’re here.
Pannill Camp, Assistant Professor of Drama