Students must complete three examinations (comprehensive; qualifying; and department oral) by the end of the first three years of study at Stanford.


The first year exam is based on a reading list of dramatic works, choreography, and theoretical texts in theater and dance which is sent to students in the summer before the first quarter of study begins. The exam is an open book, take-home exam made up of several essay questions. Students sign up for the 2 unit course TAPS 336: Comprehensive 1st Year Exam to prepare.


The qualifying examination consists of a 25-30 page essay on a pre-1900 historical topic, relevant to the field of Theater and Performance Studies. The student select sa TAPS faculty adviser to guide them through the writing process. The essay is due to the Student Services Officer in the 8th week of Autumn Quarter. The Graduate Studies Committee selects two additional TAPS faculty readers who evaluate and provide readers’ reports for the student. The student substantially revises and resubmits the essay in the third week of Spring Quarter. Evaluation criteria include clarity of expression, ability to undertake original historical research, and capacity to sustain a persuasive argument. The readers, together with the adviser, evaluate the revised essay and determine if the exam constitutes a pass. The performance project is completed in the Winter Quarter. A faculty adviser works with the student throughout Autumn and Winter quarters on the production and attend a combination of dress rehearsals or final performances as part of the evaluation. After the performance, the student participates in a viva voce, or talk-back, with the supervising faculty. Students register for TAPS 376 Projects in Performance for 4 units while completing their performance project.


This exam is based on a literature review and annotations for three reading lists created by the student in consultation with the 3 faculty members with whom they will meeting about their readings. The form of the exam is an opening 20 minute overview by the student integrating the readings followed by questions from the committee about the reading lists.