About the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program

The PhD in Dance Studies at The Ohio State University is a writing- and scholarship-based, five-year residential terminal degree for scholars and scholar-practitioners who are curious, multidisciplinary, focused, and ready to invest in becoming critical scholars and scholar practitioners. The PhD program focuses on historical, archival, ethnographic, theoretical, and digital humanities approaches to dance research grounded in embodied knowledge. The PhD in Dance Studies culminates in a written dissertation on a topic of the student’s devising that demonstrates acumen in writing longform prose, developing and sustaining an argument, mobilizing bodily, archival, ethnographic, digital, and/or theoretical evidence, and maintaining profound awareness of developments in the student’s field and subfield(s). While the dissertation must consist of written work, it may include other forms of video or film productions with the approval of the relevant committee and the graduate advisor. Centered in movement practices, doctoral research at The Ohio State University can range from stage, to screen, to communities, to digital contexts, virtual reality, and beyond. Dance is our launching point.  

Our PhD in Dance Studies maintains a curricular focus on analyzing dance practices. It supports the development of expertise in historicizing and theorizing dance forms, grounded by courses that consider dance as a social and cultural practice. We encourage our students to situate their inquiries within a broad-based understanding of dance studies research and methods, as well as adjacent fields appropriate to their research. We are deeply committed to training dance scholars who will contribute and expand definitions of written scholarship that documents and analyzes dance, and advocates for the field.   

The PhD program requires a total 80 units of graduate credit, at least 50 of which must be earned beyond the Master's degree. It is a full-time degree; part-time students are occasionally considered on a case-by-case basis. All doctoral students complete a written qualifying examination at the end of the first year of study to prepare for continuing studies. Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree only complete an additional written comprehensive examination at the end of the first year in the program. 

Be sure to take a look at our students and their work.

Please see the profiles of our graduate faculty to see the variety creative and scholarly expertise that informs our graduate program.

Program Requirements

  • 50 hours after the master's degree (80 hours after the bachelor's degree)
  • 21 units of core courses and a minimum of 14 additional units of credits in the Department of Dance
  • 7 units minimum of independent research
  • 8 units minimum of graduate courses outside of dance (can include Graduate Minor and Interdisciplinary Specialization courses)
  • successful Qualifying examination (written)
  • successful Candidacy examination (written and oral portions)
  • successful written prospectus
  • successful written dissertation and oral examination

Please see our 


for an example of a planning document that students use to track their course progress to graduation, alongside other university resources, professional staff, and faculty advisors. 

The Graduate School at Ohio State also supports a wide variety of Graduate Minors and Graduate Interdisciplinary Specializations that support PhD student research and provide valuable connections and networking opportunities. 


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