MFA Dance Programs in California

Mar 20, 2019

There are a variety of MFA programs in dance located at schools across California. This article provides information about several of these programs and includes a discussion on admission requirements.

The state of California is home to a number of different universities and colleges that offer Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in dance. Students who are interested in increasing their dance skills and proficiency or learning to teach dance may want to find out more about these programs. Below, we will look at five MFA degrees in dance and will highlight aspects of these programs that prospective students may find relevant, including admissions information.

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Overview of Schools With MFA Dance Programs in California

California State University Long Beach

The MFA in Dance offered by California State University Long Beach is a graduate degree program that many students could want to pursue. In this program, students are expected to complete 60 total credit hours over two academic years. The curriculum is organized into different categories, including theory, production and performance, and choreography and prepares graduates for careers in these areas as well as teaching. A six-credit final thesis/project is also a part of the curriculum as well as several elective choices. Candidates with teaching experience can apply for teaching assistant positions within the program to earn extra money. Scholarships or merit-based aid assistance programs are also common.

Saint Mary's College of California

Students may also want to consider the two MFA in Dance programs at Saint Mary's College of California. The MFA in Dance Design and Production option is intended for students who are interested in working in the areas of production, design, and digital media as related to dance. The MFA in Dance: Creative Practice is for candidates who would like to pursue choreography as well as more advanced training on their own behalf. Both programs require the completion of 60 credit hours. They are also scheduled as low-residency, meaning that enrolled students could potentially continue working while also pursuing this degree.

Mills College

Mills College offers an MFA in Dance that consists of 45 credit hours. The core curriculum is split into several areas covering choreography, theory, and technique, and students can exercise some choice in their course selection depending on the type of movement they are interested in. Students can further personalize their degree by the elective courses they select. The program also emphasizes professional development, as the required courses in pedagogy entail spending time teaching dance at area public schools. Students have the opportunity to teach at the college level as well through graduate and teaching assistantships.

University of California Los Angeles

The University of California Los Angeles MFA in Dance program requires that students complete a total of 72 credit hours over three years and has an emphasis on choreography. The courses are split into the categories of theoretical studies, creative process, and production, in addition to a fourth elective course category that includes areas like education, movement practices, field work, and dance/science movement studies. In order to complete the degree, students must write a research paper (over 20 pages) as well as plan and present a Capstone Project. The research paper must be finished before students begin the project, and the project consists of preparing a concert or a series of concerts.

California Institute of the Arts

California Institute of the Arts offers an MFA in Choreography that may be of interest to dance students as well. This program is intended for those who have experience as dancers and are interested in working as professional choreographers. The curriculum can be completed over a span of two years and covers topics in theory, composition, production, and dance film. There is a strong emphasis on creation in this program, as students are expected to plan and present three pieces during the first year of the program, in addition to a culminating Thesis Concert during the final semester of the program.

Admissions Standards for MFA Dance Programs in California

In addition to completing a relatively standard admission process of supplying each school with an application form, recommendation letters, a resume, personal statement, past transcripts, and GRE scores, applicants to MFA programs in dance will often need to complete an audition process and/or provide a portfolio. Experience working as a professional dancer may also be considered, though this prerequisite varies to some extent by program. In general, programs are designed for students who have a B.A. or B.F.A. in dance, though some students with extensive dancing experience may qualify as well. Students are advised to check with each program they are interested in to make sure they fulfill the requirements for admission.

To summarize, California-bound students seeking MFA in dance programs have a number of options available to them. Some programs emphasize choreography while others allow students to select electives of their choice.


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