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Graduate Certificate in World Performance Studies

The next deadline for applications is October 31, 2017.

For more information: 

The Graduate Certificate in World Performance Studies (GCWPS) provides students an opportunity to join an interdisciplinary cohort of Graduate Fellows, interested in performance as an artistic and scholarly field of inquiry.

The GCWPS requires 9 credit hours of coursework over the span of twelve months. Of these, 6 credits will be earned in two required courses: TheatreMus 647.001 “Introduction to Performance Studies” in the winter semester (3 credits), and RACKHAM 570.005 “Proseminar and Presentation of Capstone Project” in the fall semester (3 credits). The remaining 3 credits will be a course taken by students in their home unit and double-counted, in consultation with a unit chair or advisor, towards the certificate program within Rackham guidelines. Graduate Fellows are awarded a $3500 stipend for a summer research project, internship or practicum, to take place in the summer.


Winter Semester

1st required course (3 credits): Introduction to Performance Studies (TheatreMus 647.001)

Meets 6 – 9 pm on Tuesdays

Based on interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches, this gateway seminar will examine issues pertaining to the definitions of performance as an artistic and scholarly field of inquiry, critically examine the ranges and sites of performance as well as its various manifestations (aesthetic, historical, socio-cultural, political, etc.), and the experiences of cultural practices associated with performance. Additionally, this class will analyze issues of cultural identity and the display of subjectivity through performance and probe its research presuppositions, methodologies, and forms of scholarly representations.

Mbala Nkanga teaches the “Introduction to Performance Studies” course.

Summer Internship/Research/Practicum

In the summer, students will be required to do an internship, research, or a practicum lasting four to six weeks. The summer research can be designed as preliminary research for a dissertation project or a final performance project in the student’s home department. Participating students will be required to write a two-page proposal describing the rationale of the project, its location, and a budget. CWPS will provide $3,500 for the summer component to be used anytime between May and August. Funds cannot be postponed and the student must show evidence that they will return to the program in the fall for completion. The director of CWPS will head a selection committee to review all proposals and will consider innovative projects by students on a case-by-case basis.

Fall Semester

2nd required course (3 credits): Proseminar and Presentation of Capstone Project (RACKHAM 570.005)

Meets 6 – 9 pm on Tuesdays

The goal of the Proseminar is for students to report and discuss summer projects and to prepare students for public presentations of capstone papers/performances towards the end of the fall semester. The director of CWPS will be responsible for the Proseminar and one or more steering committee members will assist as needed by leading the discussions and assisting students with public presentations. The capstone project can be based on a chapter from a dissertation that is most closely related to issues in performance studies, or a substantially rewritten paper from one of the courses in the home unit that has a bearing on performance studies, or it can be a performance. Despite the above directives, there will be room for innovative projects beyond this list of choices. CWPS Steering Committee members and visiting scholars/artists will give guest presentations during the fall Proseminar.


Any student who is currently enrolled in a Rackham or non-Rackham graduate degree program at the University of Michigan is eligible to apply for the Graduate Certificate in World Performance Studies, including students who began graduate studies in September of the current academic year.

The two required courses, offered in Winter and Fall, meet from 6:00pm – 9:00pm on Tuesdays. Students interested in pursuing the GCWPS must be available for class at this time, and be present both semesters.

Applicants will need the following information to complete their application:

  • Program of Application: Graduate Certificate in World Performance Studies

  • Numeric code: 02118

  • Program Level: Certificate

The application process depends on whether your current program is administered through Rackham. Not sure? Check here.

Application Process for Current Rackham Students

1. Submit the following to Center for World Performance Studies

2. Submit completed “Add a Degree or Certificate Program Application" (pages 1-4) to the student's current graduate program (must be signed by the applicant and the applicant’s current program chair/director), for forwarding to CWPS by the current Graduate Department, or to be included with materials submitted to CWPS;

3. Submit "Admissions Conduct Code" (page 5 of the "Add a Degree or Certificate Program Application" to Rackham;

Application Process for Non-Rackham Students

1. Submit to Center for World Performance Studies

  • CWPS Application Cover Sheet and Checklist

  • Official U-M transcript or permission for CWPS to electronically access your University of Michigan transcripts.

  • Statement of purpose explaining your interest in the GCWPS Program (1-3 pages)

  • Letter of recommendation from a faculty member in your home department (in a sealed envelope)

2. Upon notification of acceptance to the Graduate Certificate program, you must submit the Rackham application and fee of $75; students do not need to provide test scores, CV or a Personal Statement. Please include your CWPS Statement of Purpose when asked for the “Academic Statement of Purpose.” An official transcript from all universities attended is required.


Students interested in the GCWPS are invited to schedule an advising appointment with a CWPS Academic Advisor, by emailing: It is also important that the student's home department or school is aware of his/her intent to pursue a certificate in World Performance Studies.  Once enrolled, students will work with a CWPS Graduate Student Advisor in planning a course of study.

Please note that for 9 credit hour certificates, double-counting is restricted to a maximum of 3 hours.  Double-counting is not permitted between two certificate programs.  Double-counting is not permitted if the student is pursuing a dual master’s degree—in that situation, all credits for the certificate must stand alone.

Students generally finish the GCWPS before completion of their primary degree; when applying for Graduation from the second program, they must submit the Dual/Joint Degree Election form.