Please follow these application instructions to apply for the PhD in Theatre & Performance Studies at CU Boulder.

Required Qualifications

  • Master's level degree in any subject 
    • Students who apply to the PhD but will not have earned a masters degree prior to the start of the program will instead be considered for the MA in Theatre & Performance Studies
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75 
  • The Graduate School's Minimum Admission Requirements
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores will not be received or reviewed as part of the PhD admissions process
  • If you have questions about your qualifications please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Beth Osnes.

Application Process

Submit the online Application for Graduate Admission, including the appropriate fee, by the deadline. The application fee may not be waived unless you are a current McNair Scholar, a Project 1000 participant, or an active Peace Corps or AmeriCorps volunteer. If you have unusual circumstances that warrant a fee waiver, please contact us at


This checklist details the materials we wish you to submit for each section of the Graduate School application.

In the Personal Statement section of the application we ask you to submit a cover letter discussing your research interests, your motivation for pursuing graduate studies in our department, and any faculty you might wish to work with. This is the space to highlight important information from your material you would like us to pay close attention to, including the qualifications, skills, and experience that make you well-suited for this program. Demonstrating clarity of purpose is extremely important. The cover letter should be double-spaced and no more than two pages in length.

Submit a CV or theatre resume showing evidence of theatre performance, and/or production experience. The CV/resume is uploaded in the Employment History section of the online application.

Submit a sample research paper of no more than 20 pages in length double-spaced (excluding bibliography). If this is an excerpt of a longer piece, provide some context for what we are reading within the page limit. This should be what you consider to be your best piece of academic writing, a sample of your critical thinking ability. Plays and other kinds of creative writing are not accepted. The research paper is uploaded in the Writing Sample section of the online application. 

  • Submit one transcript from each institution of higher education attended
  • You may upload an unofficial copy of your transcript(s); you will be asked to provide official transcripts if an admission offer is made
  • Transcripts are uploaded in the Academic History section of the online application. You must first Add an Institution before you can Submit a Transcript
  • Transcripts are required from all institutions, including community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs. While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, unofficial transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of the length of attendance, and whether or not courses were completed. Exception: study abroad work for 1 semester can be waived without a foreign transcript
  • Failure to list and submit transcripts from all institutions previously attended is considered to be a violation of academic ethics and may result in the cancellation of your admission or dismissal from the university
  • Instructions for Uploading Unofficial Transcripts to Your Application

Submit three letters of reference. Please do not submit more than four. References should be requested from individuals qualified to assess your potential for success in graduate school.
  • We prefer that your recommenders upload their letters directly to your application
  • You will be asked to supply the names and email addresses of your recommenders. You may submit up to four names
  • When you click the "send to recommender" button, your recommenders will immediately receive an email with a link for them to upload their letter and complete the Graduate Recommendation Form
  • Before you enter recommender names and email addresses, please notify your recommenders that they will receive an email from the University of Colorado,
  • Our system will accept incoming letters of recommendation either before or after submission of the application
  • If your recommenders experience difficulty submitting online they may email their letter to the Admissions Office at
  • Please let your recommenders know that their letters must be received by the deadlines posted above

We are committed to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive graduate program. We encourage you to share how your personal and professional experiences have helped shape your academic journey, artistic progress, and vision for the future.

Optional: Please include an essay describing how your educational, professional, creative (if applicable), or personal (e.g., cultural, economic or social) experiences prepare you to contribute to the department's emphasis on diversity and inclusion during your graduate career at CU. These contributions may come in the form of research topic, creative work, community engagement, professional work, personal perspective, and more.

Completing this statement is optional, and you do not need to disclose any aspect of your identity or personal experiences in this statement. The recommended maximum length of the statement is 500 words or one page, single-spaced.

Residents of U.S. Western states, including Alaska and Hawaii, may be eligible for in-state tuition for the PhD in in Theatre & Performance Studies. For more information, visit the Western Regional Graduate Program webpage.

International Applicants must submit the above, plus PROOF OF ENGLISH PROFICIENCY:

English proficiency can be documented in several ways. Requirements for English proficiency can be found on the English Proficiency Requirements webpage. This page includes minimum test scores, countries excepted from submitting test scores, and alternate methods of meeting the proficiency requirement.

If you plan to submit test scores, please review the information below:

  1. Valid TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores
    • Minimum TOEFL score of 550 (paper-based)
    • Minimum TOEFL score of 79 (internet-based)
    • Mimimum IELTS score of 6.5
    • Minimum Duolingo score of 100
  2. Official test scores must be reported by the testing service directly to the university. Please request that the appropriate testing service report scores directly to the University of Colorado Boulder.  The institution code for the TOEFL exams is 4841. The department code is not needed.
  3. Please note, the university must receive your scores by the January 3 deadline. If you cannot take the test in time, please apply next year. 

International applicants should please visit the International Students page of the Graduate Admissions website for more information.

Admissions Decisions

  • The Graduate Faculty will review completed applications once the deadline passes
  • The Graduate Faculty recommendations will be forwarded to Graduate Admissions for final approval
  • Once Graduate Admissions determines that all requirements have been met, it will confirm admission to each applicant by email, usually by the beginning of March
  • Students will be notified at that time if any support has been awarded by the department
  • Students who receive offers of support should accept or decline admission by April 15
  • Students who have been admitted without support will be notified April 15-19 if support becomes available, and are asked to accept or decline admission by April 20

For More Information