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Master of Arts (MA) in Performance Studies

“Pursuing a graduate degree in Performance Studies gave me the opportunity to bring together my performance practice and my interest in theory and rigorous intellectual exploration.” Andrea Micu (MA 2012)

Communities, institutions, governments, identities, relationships, languages, religions, artworks, and artifacts, all require some element of performance to endure. When a community stops performing a dance or a piece of music, that event is either forgotten or preserved in a different format (as a document in an archive or as a memory of an elder). In a similar way, a language can easily die when individuals cease to perform it through conversation. And what is democracy if not a cluster of performances involving collective deliberation (voting, campaigning, debating, protesting, etc.)?

Our master’s in Performance Studies is built around a multifaceted understanding of performance. Using a wide range of qualitative methods and theoretical frameworks, our faculty have expertise in the study of religion & spirituality, theater, media & technology, popular music, state affairs, law, diplomacy, martial arts, urbanism, dance, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. They have done research in the US, Ghana, Brazil, Japan, Trinidad, and Spain.

Program Structure

"Working as a program manager at a cultural institution in Kyiv (Ukraine), interacting with numerous arts curators and administrators, I realize how much the MA prepared me to question and understand the connections between art, culture, politics, and everyday life." Marianna Tanska (MA 2019)

Our two-year graduate program offers a true mix of scholarship and practice: besides learning and discussing ideas from a close reading of texts, students are encouraged to explore other modes of knowledge transmission, using our state-of-the-art facilities to put together performances, concerts, exhibitions, and installations.

We keep our graduate classes small to give each student the support they need to pursue their research projects, participate in class discussions, and interact with the Bryan-College Station community. Our students come from all parts of the world (the US, Mexico, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Ghana, and South Korea, to name a few) and have diverse academic backgrounds (from theater and music to architecture and marketing). This plurality of ideas and viewpoints around performance energizes the program and provides each student with a well-rounded liberal arts experience.

Students can choose between three tracks: Thesis, Performance & Portfolio, and Comprehensive Examination. The thesis track requires the submission of a 40-60-page monograph and is recommended for students who want to focus on their writing skills. The Performance & Portfolio track entails putting together a performance (from an online platform to a theater play). The Comprehensive Examination track allows the student to examine the field of performance studies more broadly. In all three tracks, students develop their research projects with the guidance of an advisor.

What you can do with our MA degree

“My time in the department taught me how to be a successful scholar; how to think about my interests critically and discuss them eloquently. When I entered my Ph.D. program I was knowledgeable of a lot of cutting edge theory and was prepared to engage confidently with a variety of topics.” Christopher Johnson (MA 2015)
A collage of people dancing, which are still captures from Salsa Casino, an audiovisual interactive installation designed by Mayra Valle
"Salsa Casino" audiovisual installation by Mayra Valle (MA 2015)

Our MA prepares students to pursue a broad range of career paths, particularly in cultural institutions (such as museums), intercultural industries (such as tourism), and in the media/communication sector (music production, for instance). Our recent graduates have found jobs as project coordinators at organizations such as Texas Folklife, Safe Space, EMERGE Fellowship, PBK, Hands on Nashville, and the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Center. Former students such as Yunina Barbour-Payne (MA 2014) have used the skills learned in the program to embark on an artist-scholar career.

Students interested in continuing their academic training have been admitted to highly competitive Ph.D. programs around the country (Indiana University, Northwestern University, University of California, Davis, among others).

"We aim to become a national model for the study of performance by combining innovative research, arts activism, and community building, while also keeping our Master’s degree affordable. Contact me to discuss your interests and learn more about our graduate program."
-- Leonardo Cardoso, Director of Graduate Studies