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Masters in Performance Studies

Performance studies is an academic discipline that examines relationships between performance and culture. Scholars in the field not only study traditional art forms (such as music, theatre, dance), they also explore a broad range of cultural expressions, including rituals, festivals, religious ceremonies, games, parades, storytelling, clothing, folklore, indigenous arts, and the mass media. Texas A&M’s new M.A. program emphasizes the ethnographic study of vernacular culture. The department has strengths in Africana studies, dance and ritual studies, ethnomusicology,  folklore, performance ethnography, popular music studies, religious studies, theatre and media studies, and women’s studies. Assistantships are available.

A wide range of career options are open to those trained in performance studies.  These include:

  • Positions in museums, folk arts agencies, and public history programs
  • Work as cultural advisors for media outlets (including commercial and noncommercial television, film, music production, and culturally oriented magazines and Web sites) and for organizations specializing in international tourism
  • Employment in NGOs that specialize in cultural preservation

Further, those with M.A. degrees in performance studies may pursue a doctoral degree in the field of performance studies, as well as folklore, theatre, music, dance, communication, and cultural studies.


Further instructions for MA applications:

– Application, submitted online, via ApplyTexas
All other materials are submitted through the Application Information System (AIS). These include:
– Statement of purpose. Your statement of purpose should be no longer than 2 pages, double-spaced, and should focus on your academic experience and interests. We are primarily interested in details about your intellectual interests (what you would like to study and why), as well as any relevant details about your previous experience with performance and performance studies. Details about academic accomplishments such as publications, presentations at conferences, etc. should also be included.
– Official copies of all transcripts.
– Writing sample. Writing samples should be critical essays, 2500-4000 words, with no professor’s comments or grades. Writing samples should be carefully edited and proofread.
– Three letters of recommendation. All or most of your letters should be written by professors who have had you in class. All letters MUST be submitted through the Applicant Information System (AIS). Once Admissions has processed your application, you will receive instructions on how to set up your letters of recommendation.
– Curriculum vitae. Your c.v. should outline your academic background and accomplishments, including (if applicable) prizes, scholarships, conference presentations, and publications.
– GRE Scores. Unofficial scores can be uploaded into AIS. Texas A&M University requires the GRE. Have the testing service mail the official scores to the university’s Graduate Admissions Office. We do not have a minimum GRE score.
– TOEFL scores, for international applicants. Unofficial scores can be uploaded to the AIS; official scores should be send by the testing service directly to the Office of Admissions.

PLEASE NOTE: This is the first year we’re using the Applicant Information System (AIS), and we have learned that the department cannot see any parts of the application until the applicant fills out and submits the “Departmental Data Sheet.” So, please, do that as soon as possible; that way, we can pay attention to what parts of the application are missing, and get in touch with applicants directly.

If you are interested in being considered for the Graduate Diversity Fellowship, click here.

If you have any questions, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies Dr. David Donkor at

Further information for prospective M.A. students can be found here.