Best Hybrid MFA Dance Programs

Apr 29, 2019

This article highlights hybrid MFA dance programs by providing individuals with information regarding the structure of these programs as well as common curriculum requirements and admission standards.

Students who would like to find an MFA program in dance may be interested in programs that are offered in a hybrid format. Below, we will learn some general information about hybrid MFA in dance programs, including curriculum requirements and admission standards.

Overview of the Best Hybrid MFA Dance Programs

Hybrid MFA dance programs include both online and in-person components. While students may meet on campus or in other locations periodically to fulfill residency requirements or take courses, they also must complete some components of the program online and off campus. Some of these programs may also be referred to as low-residency programs. On-campus or residency components may include workshops, studio sessions, discussions, and critiques, as well as meetings with advisors and faculty members. During the time that students spend off campus, they may complete classes, work on their own projects, and fulfill studio hour requirements through their personal practice in dance. Below, we will cover some of the curriculum that is commonly found in these programs by highlighting five types of courses in which students may have the option of enrolling.

Dance History and Theory

Students will typically be required to take one or more courses that are focused on some aspect of dance theory and/or history. A course like this may focus on a particular time period of dance history, such as dance during the 20th century or contemporary dance. Students may also discuss the relationship between dance and other art forms and how dance was influenced or informed by these other forms, as well as various societal and cultural movements.

Dance Pedagogy

Because some students take MFA in dance programs in order to become teachers of dance, it is also common that these programs have one or more courses that focus on dance pedagogy. Students will learn about various accepted methods and theories related to teaching dance. The course may involve observing how other teachers work in order to identify different methods and strategies. Students will likely be asked to evaluate their own teaching style or to consider how they would like to teach in the future.

Movement and Practice

MFA programs in dance also will typically require that students take several courses in which they practice dance, either in group courses or through independent study, as may be the case in programs that have a low-residency requirement. On-campus courses may focus on a particular style of movement, like Laban Movement Analysis, or on dance improvisation. In the independent courses, students will work on their own dance practice, though these types of courses will still usually involve remaining in contact with professors and other classmates to receive and send feedback.

Research Methods and Writing

Because these programs often culminate in a large project that is research-oriented in some way, students will typically be required to take a course that instructs them on the process of research. In this type of course, students will commonly learn about various research methods that can be applied to the study of dance. The course may also involve conducting preliminary research and sharing pieces of writing with other students to receive feedback.

Thesis Project

MFA programs in dance generally culminate in a thesis project in which students must prepare a significant piece of work. Some programs may require that this project be a full-scale piece of choreography along with a written statement, while other programs may give students more options, including a written thesis or another type of dance-related project. Students typically will spend much of the final semester in the program working on this project before presenting it to faculty members in order to complete the requirements of the program.

Hybrid MFA Dance Programs

  • Jacksonville University - The MFA in choreography program offered by Florida's Jacksonville University takes students a total of two years to complete and is offered in a low-residency format that requires the completion of online digital components in addition to two six-week summer residencies. Jacksonville University made the 2019 U.S. News and World Report's ranking of the best Regional Universities in the South, as well as the Best Value Schools.
  • Montclair State University - The MFA program in dance at Montclair State University in New Jersey also takes two years to complete and is designed for mid-career professionals. During the summers, students will spend four weeks on campus while the spring and fall semesters will be spent taking courses online. U.S. News and World Report included Montclair State University on its 2019 list of Top Public Schools, as well as on its list of best National Universities.
  • University of the Arts - The University of the Arts in Pennsylvania offers an MFA in dance program that students can complete in about 15-22 months in a low-residency format. In this format, students will complete parts of the curriculum through independent study using online components and take part in summer international residencies. Students seeking flexibility may be attracted to this school that encourages multidisciplinary study, and students in the dance program who also have an interest in painting or film may be able to pursue these topics as well.

Admissions Standards for Hybrid MFA Dance Programs

When applying to a hybrid MFA dance program, students will need to submit a number of materials in order to considered. Typically, this includes supplying admissions committees with letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, a personal statement, and a professional CV or resume. Because hybrid MFA programs are also often low-residency programs, which are usually designed for mid-career professionals, these programs may expect applicants to already have significant experience as a professional teacher, dancer, or choreographer before beginning the program. Another important component of this application process is the submission of a dance portfolio or an in-person audition in which admissions committees will assess a student's abilities and determine if they are a good fit for the program.

In summary of the above information, hybrid MFA dance programs often span about two years and usually include both online and in-person components. Several of the best programs allow students a great deal of flexibility, but still equip them with a high-level of professionals skills that they can use to further advance their careers.

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