Graduate Bulletin

Dance, M.F.A.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 11

All department and university application materials must be received by the Dance Department. After acceptance at the department level, final review of application materials is made by the Boyer College of Music and Dance.

A supplemental application, which is required, can be obtained at

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

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

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

Applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and an undergraduate degree in Dance or equivalent professional experience. Depending on the applicant's professional goals, certain prerequisite courses may be assigned to fill in any gaps in preparation.

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:

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 79 iBT or 550 PBT.

Graduate Interview Day:

All applicants are expected to attend the Dance Department’s graduate interview day or to make other arrangements to complete interview day requirements. The day includes a workshop class with portions taught by several members of the faculty, presentation of a 3-5 minute self-choreographed solo, and an interview. All applicants are interviewed by one or more members of the M.F.A. faculty.


A resume that details experience in dance, art, education, scholarship, and/or public leadership is required.

Transfer Credit:

Graduate credits from an accredited institution may be transferred into the M.F.A. program in Dance. Transfer credits must be approved by the graduate coordinator, the department chair, and the Associate Dean. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 12.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 60

Required Courses:
Core Courses (10 credits):
DANC 8812:  Performance Environments I: Dance Production
DANC 8867:  Educational Inquiry in Dance
DANC 8868:  Graduate Seminar
DANC 9801:  Research Methods in Dance

Studio-Based Courses (25 credits):
DANC 8806: The Creative Process and the Dance Symbol
DANC 8808:  Corporeal Improvisation
DANC 8847:  Choreographing Philadelphia
DANC 8848:  Modal Practice, Structure and Performance
DANC 8849:  Studio Research (taken each semester until the Master’s Concert and Thesis semester)
DANC 8861:  Dancing Self in Community
DANC 8862:  Embodied Craft
DANC 8866:  The Body Politic

Critical Thinking Courses (9 credits):
DANC 8859:  Writing the City
DANC 8872:  Educating Dance
DANC 8873:  Concepts of Culture

Electives, including Dance and outside courses (9 credits)

Master’s Concert and Thesis (7 credits)

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 that are not covered by required courses: dance history, dance in a cultural context, dance education, and dance science. 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 and is taken under supervision, without access to reference materials. The essay section allows students to use any appropriate references and resources. These questions require critical thinking, analysis, and specificity. 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 and Thesis:
The Master's Concert is a seven-credit exercise developed over three semesters, and culminating in a publicly produced presentation of choreographic work. The Master's Concert generally consists of one major choreographic work designed to demonstrate the candidate's highest achievement of artistry, craft, and thinking.

During the Spring semester of the second year of full-time study, students identify a thesis advisor, conduct preliminary research, and prepare the thesis concert proposal. The proposal articulates the artistic and intellectual focus of the project, setting out the questions and challenges of the work that will be developed further in the final paper. After the culminating performance, the student submits a written thesis of 8,000 words that documents the choreographic research process and final product, but more crucially also explores the interaction of theory and practice that informs the work, presenting in-depth reflection on strengths, challenges, meanings, and projections for future work.

Program Contact Information:

Department Information:

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

Department Contacts:


Mary Garcia


Graduate Program Coordinator:

Dr. Mark Franko



Dr. Sherril Dodds


About the Program

The Dance Department offers programs of study leading to the Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. All students are expected to develop a command of the discipline of dance, as a performing art and as both subject and medium of inquiry. The department's mission places high value on the role of dance in a pluralistic, multicultural society. The M.F.A. in Dance 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, Philosophy, Sociology, Theater Arts, Women's Studies, and the like.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



The graduate programs are ranked among the top twelve in the nation as determined by the Dance Career Guide.


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 and scholars whose work represents a variety of contemporary approaches to choreography, performance, and theoretical inquiry in dance. The emphasis of the program is choreographic research. In addition, students have requirements in performance, production, dance education, and dance scholarship. An important objective of the M.F.A. program is that each student develop a personal aesthetic that manifests an understanding of her/his place in the world.

Job Placement:

Since the focus of the M.F.A. in Dance 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-Matriculated Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students are able to take technique classes and some core coursework with the permission of the instructor and the department chair. If accepted into the program, those courses (up to a maximum of 9 credits) may be applied toward the degree program.

Financing Opportunities

Teaching Assistantships (TAs), Research Assistantships (RAs), and Academic Internships (AIs) are available. Teaching responsibilities usually include teaching university general education courses. On occasion, TAs are assigned to teach B.F.A. Dance repertory, technique, or theory courses for which they are qualified. This award includes a monthly stipend, book allowance, and tuition remission. Assistantships are generally awarded for a maximum of two years.

The TA/RA/AI application is part of the supplemental dance application for admission. Continuing students who have not held an assistantship also submit a written application in the semester prior to commencement of the award.

All M.F.A. applicants are considered for departmental nomination for a University fellowship. This university-wide scheme is highly competitive, and recipients are selected by the Graduate School.

Updated 11.5.13