Performing and Media Arts Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Performing and Media Arts

Program Description

The graduate program in Performing and Media Arts focuses on research, writing, pedagogy, and praxis in order to prepare students for careers as scholars and teachers. Students may work with a strong emphasis in either theatre and performance studies or cinema and media studies, and they are also encouraged to find novel, fresh, and rigorous ways to produce work at interdisciplinary sites of contact between theatre and performance studies on the one hand and cinema and media studies on the other hand.

A student’s Special Committee is made up of three faculty members, two PMA field faculty members representing the student's major area (theater and performance studies, cinema and media studies, or theatre theory and aesthetics) and a third, from outside the PMA field faculty, representing the student's minor area. Students whose interdisciplinary interests encompass more areas of study may add a fourth committee member. Possible areas include (but are not limited to): Directing or Acting PedagogyFilm and Video StudiesFeminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies; LGBT Studies, Africana Studies; Anthropology; Asian Studies; English, German; Music; Near Eastern Studies; and American Studies.

The field of Performing and Media Arts requires each graduate student to consult with their special committee to decide what study, if any, in a second language is most appropriate for a student’s graduate program and scholarly interests. Some special committees will require graduate students to demonstrate competency and/or fluency in one or two languages. When applicable, a graduate student may be asked to demonstrate competence and/or fluency in specific languages by presenting their undergraduate record, taking additional courses in a specific language and literature, or translating and discussing documents related to the student’s work.

Research facilities:
Cornell University maintains an extensive library system for scholarly research, with excellent holdings in areas relevant to the field. Olin and Kroch Libraries are the main research centers for the humanities; they house several special collections of particular interest to our program, including the world’s largest Hip Hop Collection, extensive materials on and by George Bernard Shaw and George Jean Nathan, and the Rose Golden Archive of New Media. Students work closely with Cornell's Society for the Humanities and The School for Criticism and Theory, interdisciplinary centers of intellectual exchange that draw scholars and artists from across the globe.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 254-2757

Graduate Field Assistant
223 Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, 430 College Avenue
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • cinema and media studies
  • theatre and performance studies
  • theatre practice (acting or directing) (minor)
  • theatre theory and aesthetics


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall: December 15

Requirements Summary:

Admission is highly selective. Applicants must submit a scholarly writing sample. An undergraduate major in theatre, film, or a related discipline is not required for admission, although applicants who have had little or no academic work in performance and/or media may have to do more than others to acquire the competence in scholarship expected in the program.

Learning Outcomes

  • Make an original and substantial contribution to the chosen field.
  • Be able to develop appropriate concepts and methodologies and to articulate the value of the chosen research.
  • Demonstrate advanced research skills, which may include creative scholarship.
  • Demonstrate commitment to advancing the values of scholarship by being actively engaged in the university's scholarly/creative community, professional societies, and other forms of knowledge exchange.
  • Demonstrate growth as a teacher.