Graduate Bulletin

Dance, M.F.A.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

The Dance Department must receive all department and university application materials. Attendance at the department audition is required. After acceptance at the departmental level, a final review of all application materials is conducted at the college level.

A supplemental application, which is required, can be obtained by emailing

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from qualified representatives of the academic or professional communities in dance.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in dance or equivalent professional experience; an undergraduate GPA of 3.0; and a curriculum vitae that details experience in dance, art education, scholarship, and/or public leadership.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree is required.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should detail the applicant's focus and artistic vision in dance.  It should be 1-2 pages in length. The M.F.A. faculty reviews this document in relation to the audition, choreographic showing, and resume to determine the applicant's fit with the M.F.A. program and what the faculty can offer.  Curiosity and openness are sought.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE/MAT is required. Scores should be at the 50th percentile or above, whether the GRE or MAT is taken.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 79 internet-based.


An audition includes a technique class with portions taught by several members of the faculty and a presentation of recent choreography.


All applicants will be interviewed by two members of the admissions committee at the audition.


A resume is required.

Transfer Credit:

Graduate credits from an accredited institution may be transferred into a master's program. The M.F.A. Coordinator will make all decisions regarding the transfer of credits with approval from the Department Chair. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 12.

Test Waivers:

International students can be accepted without attending the audition, if their video and other supporting documents give adequate evidence of excellence.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 60

Required Courses (41 s.h.)

Core Courses

8803: Rhythm: Analysis, Performance and Composition  

8805: The Dancer and the Dance Medium

8806: The Creative Process and the Dance Symbol

8808: Corporeal Improvisation

8812: Performance Environments I: Dance Production

8815: Performance Environments II: Producing Dance

8821-8826: Modern Dance II-IV

8839: Movement Theater Workshop

8845: Sound and Movement Partnerships

8851: Choreographic Projects  

8852: Non-Western Dance Traditions

8874: Foundations of Cultural Studies

8878: Graduate Composition

9984: Master's Concert in Dance  

Dance Electives (13 s.h.)

Dance Academic (6 s.h.)

Dance Performance (3 s.h.)

Dance (4 s.h.)

Non-Dance Electives (6 s.h.)

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Comprehensive Examination:

The comprehensive examination is designed to evaluate the student's general knowledge in four major areas: dance history, dance in a cultural context, dance education, and dance science, areas that are not covered by required courses. An acceptable level would be equivalent to that acquired from taking a single course in each area covered by the exam.

The comprehensive examination consists of two parts. The short answer section gives students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge in diverse areas. The essay section allows students to use any appropriate references and resources. These questions require critical thinking, analysis, and specificity.  The short answer section is taken under supervision, without access to reference materials. The essay section is completed over a period of days, and students may use any appropriate references as resources.

The comprehensive examination is taken before the first semester of study and must be successfully completed before Master's Concert approval. Graduate Faculty appropriate to the M.F.A. degree write the questions. Evaluation of the examination is followed by advising, where needed, as to specific deficient areas and recommendations are made for courses within the graduate dance curriculum that address areas of concern.

Master's Concert:

The Master's Concert consists of one major choreographic work designed to demonstrate the candidate's highest achievement of artistry and craft. Sometimes work on the concert is an extension of a choreographic project completed in a Choreographic Projects class. If that is the case, the piece is expected to gain a significantly new dimension to qualify as a Master's Concert piece. A work already completed in a Choreographic Projects class may be part of a Master's Concert but cannot serve as the major concert piece. Occasionally, students choose to put their greatest emphasis on performance, rather than choreography, in which case they are expected to perform in works by several choreographers.

The culminating event of the M.F.A. degree is the Master's Concert. It is a six-credit experience and the primary focus of the final semester. Only a small number of students present a full program of their own work; in most cases the faculty recommends a single "master work," a piece of choreography that represents the culmination of personal aesthetic, pathways of exploration, and areas of acquired skill.

The Master's Concert is evaluated and graded by a Concert Committee of three or four faculty members. The student submits a paper evaluating both the work process and final product, discussing strengths and weaknesses and projections for future work. This paper is distributed to the Concert Committee and a final review meeting is held with the candidate and the Concert Committee for feedback and discussion. The concert is viewed in relation to the original evaluative criteria, as stated in the concert proposal, and in relation to the student's own evaluation paper. Individual committee members give specific criticism of every aspect of the concert, with particular emphasis on those areas upon which the student has focused. The final grade is the average of the grades submitted by each member of the Concert Committee.

Program Contact Information:

Department Information:

Dept. of Dance
1700 N. Broad Street, Suite 309
Philadelphia, PA 19122-0843

Department Contacts:


Elizabeth Denniston


Program Coordinator:

Merian Soto



Dr. Kariamu Welsh

About the Program

The Department of Dance offers programs of study leading to the Master of Education, Master of Fine Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. All students are expected to develop a command of the discipline of dance, including its modes as a performing art and a medium of inquiry. The department's mission places high value on the role of dance in a pluralistic, multicultural society. The M.F.A. program emphasizes an appreciation and comprehension of body movement; sensitivity to personal artistic qualities and sources; mastery of craft; and an awareness of the social, cultural, and historical implications of dance.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 4 years

Campus Location:


Although all of the department courses are offered on Main Campus, students may take the out-of-department credits on another campus.

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are able to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:

Dept. of Dance
1700 N. Broad Street, Suite 309
Philadelphia, PA 19122-0843

Interdisciplinary Study:

The program encourages interdisciplinary coursework, research, and interactions among faculty and students with interests in African American studies, anthropology, education, history, Jewish studies, media arts, music, music therapy, theater arts, and women's studies.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



The graduate programs are ranked among the top twelve in the nation as determined by the Dance Career Guide. The Doctor of Philosophy program is one of four programs in the country, while the Master of Education program is the only such program in the United States.


The M.F.A. in Dance is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).

Areas of Specialization:

The M.F.A. faculty includes internationally known artists whose work represents a variety of contemporary approaches to choreography. The emphasis of the program is choreography, with a minimum of 23 credits required in areas of choreography. In addition, students have requirements in performance, production, and dance scholarship, and an opportunity to develop an emphasis in a specific area. This can include but is not limited to African aesthetics, dance and the community, dance education, dance in human society, dance on video, and music for dance. An important objective of the M.F.A. program is that each student develop a personal aesthetic, which manifests an understanding of her/his place in the world. In the third year, students select a faculty member to serve as artistic advisor for their culminating Master's Concert.

Job Placement:

Because the focus of the M.F.A. program is choreography, most graduates continue as independent or affiliated choreographers after graduation. In addition, many teach in higher education or perform professionally.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students are able to take technique classes and some core coursework with permission of the instructor and the Department Chair. If accepted into the program, up to 9 credits may be applied toward the degree program.

Financing Opportunities

Teaching Assistantships (TAs) and Research Assistantships (RAs) are available. Teaching responsibilities usually include teaching university core curriculum. On occasion, TAs are assigned to teach children's dance, repertory, technique classes, or classes germane to their area of study. This award includes a monthly stipend, book allowance, and tuition remission. The award is for one year. Students must re-apply for the award for a second appointment. Information on the TA/RA application should be clearly written and well edited. Please include four copies with the other application materials. Note that if you are an entering student, include the Personal Data Sheet. If you are a continuing student, include the following information on a cover sheet: name, degree program, address, telephone number, electronic address, and current grade point average. Also required are a statement of teaching experience; a concise, clearly written paragraph on your philosophy of teaching; and a statement on how personal and professional goals relate to the responsibilities of the assistantship.

Updated 6.11.08