The MFA program is designed to accommodate a variety of students, ranging from the practicing professional to the recent BA/BFA graduate with professional experience. The MFA develops students’ creative, performance, pedagogical and scholarly work. With an emphasis on embodied research, this degree positions participants for teaching careers in higher education and a great variety of careers in the field of dance, movement, entrepreneurship, critical theory, advocacy and arts administration.

The MFA is an intense immersion into a student's expertise and curiosities as an artist and scholar. Great transformations in learning are an expected part of the graduate school experience, and significant space is allocated for self-directed interests. The decision to pursue an MFA in dance indicates a hunger to embark upon the challenges, rewards and maturation this experience will bring.

Funding for the MFA is connected to Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Assistantships, so all prospective MFA students must have previous teaching experience.


The primary core MFA curriculum focuses on the development of the individual artistic voice in performance, choreography, teaching, research and writing. The presentation of new creative work is bolstered, augmented and enriched by the study of theory, history and many diverse artists of all dance genres and movement disciplines. The program is designed to be responsive to individual areas of interest and to ensure effective preparation for careers in academics, not-for-profit organizations, and the professional arenas

Students are encouraged to think outside of the box in terms of course choices, creative pursuits and scholarly activities. A considerable number of the required credits consists of student-selected courses and electives, allowing for a great deal of freedom and individualized study. It is critical that a student work closely with their advisor in selecting courses in the dance curriculum, courses outside of the department and creating independent studies that will support the student's goals and secondary area of emphasis. 

Performance and Choreography

All MFA students are expected to present choreographic work each semester, either as part of course-related events or in other departmentally-produced events. Students are coached to seek refinement of their established artistic practices, but also assiduously to expand their artistic selves into less familiar movement, choreographic, aesthetic and expressive modes. Evaluation of artistic growth is based on intellectual and physical articulateness, creative problem-solving, depth of critical, conceptual and aesthetic exploration and on the extent to which a student has deeply sought discovery, reconsideration and analysis of their art-making methods.

Students are encouraged to seek a variety of performance opportunities with fellow graduate students, undergraduates, faculty and guest artists. Produced performances are presented multiple times each year and informal showings occur regularly. Given the rigorous schedule of our MFA program, extensive work with off-campus groups can be extremely difficult to schedule and tends to overwhelm students with multi-tasking and juggling of priorities.

Modified MFA Program for Professionals

Those students entering our program with significant professional backgrounds including teaching, choreography and/or performance may be able to request a modified degree plan. For such students, an interview with the Director of Dance and the Director of Graduate Studies for Dance during the application/audition process is necessary. The interview will help determine if there is a good match between the student's goals and the MFA program. 

The goal of the modified program for professionals is to provide flexibility in the pursuit of individual goals and the fortification of specific educational gaps. In close consultation with the faculty and graduate advisor, the student will be able to propose and develop new areas of research and creative work. All modifications to the MFA program must receive the approval of program directors and the CU Boulder Graduate School. The number of required credits and semesters will be determined based on the individual’s exceptional professional experiences. 


Admission Requirements

Applicants are expected to show a high level of proficiency in dance performance, pedagogy and choreography. All applicants must submit the Teaching Application portion of the application. Funding for the MFA is contingent upon teaching within our program.

The deadline for all applications is December 1. Select applicants will be invited to an initial Zoom interview in January. The faculty will then invite a small number of applicants for an in-person campus audition in February. International students may request to audition in digital format. The dance program does not accept applications or transfer requests for spring semester admission. 

The specific audition dates and detailed information about the on-campus audition can be found on the department's Dance MFA Application webpage. 

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are not required for the MFA in Dance application.


  • Hold a baccalaureate degree in dance, or equivalent dance proficiency and experience with a degree in another field
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75 and meet the Graduate School's minimum Admission Requirements
  • Demonstrate a deep commitment to the field of dance with proficiency in practice, performance, choreography and teaching

Program Requirements

Required Courses and Credits

The three-year program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours, at least 50 of which must be completed on campus at CU Boulder. At this time there is no low-residency option for the MFA program. The curriculum focuses on performance, choreography, scholarship, pedagogy and a secondary area of specialization. Grades lower than a B- cannot be applied towards graduation; a 3.0 GPA is needed to graduate.

Required Courses
THDN 6009Research and Teaching in Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies2
DNCE 5001Graduate Technique8
Somatic Practice Course (DNCE 5901 & future courses)2
Varied Additional Technique Classes (DNCE)6
DNCE 5012Concert Production 11
DNCE 5053Advanced Dance Composition 13
DNCE 5056Graduate Teaching Seminar2
DNCE 5064Music and Dance Seminar: Collaboration2
DNCE 6073Choreography (taken twice with different instructors) 16
Select two of the following:6
Performance and Community Engagement
Seminar: Dance
The Graduate Project
Introduction to Performance Studies
Live Performance: Critical Curation
Electives 2
Secondary Emphasis6-9
Additional Electives9-12
Total Credit Hours56

MFA Project and Project Paper

The culmination of graduate study is the MFA Project and Project Paper. The MFA Project is based on creative work: a choreographic/creative project usually presented in a live performance or digital format, followed by a paper and an oral defense of the project and paper. We celebrate many varieties of creative projects and we offer the support and imaginative expertise of an outstanding production team.

Graduate Comprehensive Portfolio

Prior to graduation, MFA candidates submit a collection of scholarly, pedagogical and creative work. The portfolio is intended to document and synthesize the graduate's personal practice, philosophies, choreography and academic investigations. It includes creative and pedagogical statements, scholarly essays, a CV and digital documentation of teaching, performance and choreography.

Plan(s) of Study

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Fall SemesterCredit Hours
DNCE 5001 Graduate Technique 1 2
DNCE 5053 Advanced Dance Composition 3
THDN 6009 Research and Teaching in Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies 2
Electives and/or Independent Study 1 3
 Credit Hours10
Spring Semester
DNCE 5056
Graduate Teaching Seminar
or Music and Dance Seminar: Collaboration
DNCE 6073 Choreography 3
Seminar 1 3
Somatic Practice Course 2
 Credit Hours10
Year Two
Fall Semester
DNCE 5001 Graduate Technique 2
DNCE 5012 Concert Production 1
Electives and/or Independent Study 7
 Credit Hours10
Spring Semester
DNCE 5001 Graduate Technique 2
DNCE 5064
Music and Dance Seminar: Collaboration
or Graduate Teaching Seminar
Seminar 3
Electives and/or Independent Study 3
 Credit Hours10
Year Three
Fall Semester
DNCE 5001 Graduate Technique 2
DNCE 6969 The Graduate Project 2
Electives and/or Independent Study 6
 Credit Hours10
Spring Semester
DNCE 6969 The Graduate Project 2
Electives and/or Independent Study 8
 Credit Hours10
 Total Credit Hours60

Secondary Emphasis

We wholeheartedly assert that a liberal arts education cultivates a healthy balance of critical thinking, creativity and communal excellence. In this spirit, MFA candidates choose at least one secondary area of study to give variety and dimension to their training.

Secondary Emphases Within Our Campus

Students may choose an emphasis that can be fulfilled by courses taken within the department and/or in other campus departments. Secondary emphases vary between two and five courses, depending on the choice of subject. The university setting is particularly well-suited to broad educational goals, given the wide assortment of subjects available at the CU Boulder campus. We encourage students to search far and wide through the course catalog to discover courses and areas of study that are particularly suited to their individual interests and goals. 

Students may also choose to complete a graduate certificate as their secondary emphasis. The most common certificates earned by MFA students are:

Aerial Dance Emphasis

The aerial dance emphasis is available to students who have a serious interest in aerial dance and its application to dance training, performance and/or teacher training. Students can work towards the completion of the Professional Training Program at Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Studio® (located in Boulder) while simultaneously pursuing their MFA degree. The Professional Training Program must be successfully completed before the MFA degree will be awarded. Before a student is eligible to begin work in the aerial dance emphasis, they must be officially accepted by Frequent Flyers® Professional Training Program and have been approved by the Director of Graduate Studies for Dance to follow the aerial dance emphasis.

The aerial emphases is sponsored by the program, but requires students to take off-campus training. Because of this, the number of CU Boulder credit hours required for the MFA is reduced from 60 to 50 credit hours.

Somatic Emphasis

The somatic emphasis is social justice oriented. It is intended for students with a strong devotion to intersectional practice-based research. Designed as a connective tissue within the MFA in Dance, the somatic emphasis fosters the artist-citizen to be accountable, embodied and aware through dancing, dance making, performance, critical discourse, collaboration, wellness and activism. Students are supported in accumulating broad experiential knowing through diverse somatic approaches.

We prioritize the development of skills and strategies toward cultivating radical aliveness. How we inhabit our living bodies/minds, and relate to others, impacts our identities, our communities, and the structures we participate in. We consider how somatic decolonizing will deepen collective movements toward justice, equity, diversity, inclusivity, and responsive global citizenship.

The MFA in Dance honors the complexity of somatic lineages and practices. We place value on knowing the global roots of somatics and strongly assert that Eurocentric certified somatic systems are not the only traditions to hold valuable somatic knowledge. Our program supports innovative research into somatic practices of every origin. We aim for a collaborative re-imagining of the potential applications for culturally informed and politically engaged somatic practice; depth of inquiry, integration of theory and practice, and queering of perspectives is encouraged. This emphasis calls for investment in the power of our anatomical, energetic, cultural bodies/minds in the face of converging crises, shifting human demographics, emerging realities, and potential futures.

The somatic emphasis consists of an individualized course of study worth 12 credits. The specific course of study will be developed by each student in collaboration with Dance faculty Anya Cloud.

Course of study will be developed from the following:

  • Graduate level Dance courses in somatics
  • One approved course in anatomy, physiology and/or kinesiology
  • Peer-to-peer somatic lab practice
  • Cumulative somatic research documentation and bibliography
  • Intensive off-campus somatic training1
  • One approved course outside of the department from the following areas: Ethnic Studies, Women and Gender Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Disability Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Environmental Justice and Eco-Social Justice​, or a related and relevant course approved by faculty

Students must declare the somatic emphasis by the end of the first year. Given the nature of the Somatic Emphasis, the number of CU Boulder credit hours required for the MFA with a Somatic Emphasis is reduced from 60 to 50 credit hours. All requirements must be successfully completed before the MFA degree will be awarded. The Dance faculty advisor for the somatic emphasis is Anya Cloud.

Learning Outcomes

  • To encourage the clarification and individuation of each student’s artistic voice.
  • To prepare and empower students to fulfill their chosen career paths, both in their graduate studies and in the professional world.
  • To investigate traditional and innovative approaches to movement invention, choreography and performance.
  • To deepen somatic awareness and increase fluency in dance technique, including but not limited to Improvisation, Jazz, African Caribbean, Aerial, Hip-hop, Transnational Fusion, North and West African dance, Ballet and Contemporary.
  • To actively engage in dance research, with particular attention to discovering relationships between scholarship and creative work.
  • To examine and practice pedagogical goals and strategies from aesthetic, cultural and anatomical perspectives.
  • To present choreography/creative work on a regular basis and perform in the creative work of faculty, peers and guest artists working in a variety of aesthetic and technical styles.