Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts / BOYER COLLEGE OF MUSIC AND DANCE

Learn more about the Master of Arts in Dance.

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 MA in Dance is a research-centered degree that allows students to follow and integrate strands in cultural, creative and educational studies of dance. Through coursework blending experiential and theoretical inquiry and an in-depth thesis project, the program prepares students for doctoral education in dance and professional development in research, writing, creative process and pedagogy.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 4 years

Campus Location: Main. All department courses are offered on Main Campus, but students may take out-of-department credits on other campuses.

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: The degree program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis.

Interdisciplinary Study: The program encourages interdisciplinary coursework, research and interactions among faculty and students with interests in Africology and African American Studies, Anthropology, Education, History, Jewish Studies, Media Arts, Music, Philosophy, Sociology, Theater Arts, Women's Studies, and the like.

Accreditation: The MA in Dance is pending plan approval by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).

Areas of Specialization: The MA in Dance is a research-centered degree that allows students to follow and integrate strands in cultural, creative and educational studies of dance. Through coursework blending experiential and theoretical inquiry and an in-depth thesis project, the program prepares students for doctoral education in dance. It also provides master’s-level professional development in research, writing, the creative process and pedagogy.

Job Prospects: Graduates perform and choreograph with companies throughout the world, teach at all levels of education, serve as arts administrators and policymakers for the arts, and publish extensively.

Non-Matriculated 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, 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 BFA Dance courses for which they are qualified. This award includes a monthly stipend, book allowance and tuition remission. Assistantships are generally awarded for a minimum of one year. 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 term prior to commencement of the award.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Summer II: January 11

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

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 individual'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: In three to five typed pages, address how your experience and education have prepared you for advanced study in dance and how the degree will support your professional goals.

Standardized Test Scores:
Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 79
  • IELTS Academic: 6.5
  • PTE Academic: 53

Resume: A current resume detailing experience in dance, art, education, scholarship and/or public leadership is required.

Writing Sample: A recent scholarly or academic research paper must be submitted as a writing sample.

Transfer Credit: Graduate credits from an accredited institution may be transferred into the MA in Dance program. 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 6.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 30

Required Courses:

Core Courses 1
DANC 8859Dancing the City3
DANC 8861Dancing Self in Community3
DANC 8862Embodied Craft3
DANC 8872Educating Dance3
DANC 8873Concepts of Culture3
DANC 9801Research Methods in Dance3
DANC 8808Corporeal Improvisation (or a Technique course)2
Other Dance Electives6
Research Course
DANC 9996Master's Thesis in Dance4
Total Credit Hours30

Although no credit is earned, attendance is mandatory at the Graduate Tutorial held every Tuesday evening.

Culminating Event:
Master's Thesis:
The MA thesis is a substantial research project developed over three terms, culminating in a written thesis of 20,000 words. During Spring term of the first year of full-time study, students carry out bibliographic research, develop an annotated bibliography, and create a thesis proposal in a mentored seminar setting. A thesis advisor, with whom the student works until the completion of the project, is then determined. Prior to graduation, students make a formal presentation of their thesis research for dance faculty, students and invited guests. Detailed guidelines for the MA thesis process and evaluation are found in the Graduate Handbook.


Program Web Address:

Department Information:

Dept. of Dance

Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts/Boyer College of Music and Dance

1700 N. Broad Street, Suite 309

Philadelphia, PA 19122-0843


Submission Address for Application Materials:

Department Contacts:


Norma Porter


Coordinator of Graduate Studies:

Dr. Sherril Dodds



Dr. Karen Bond