MFA student, Rosely Conz in 'The Current'

Program Summary

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance is a 60-credit hour program designed to take 3 years (6 semesters) to complete.  Students generally take 10 credit hours per semester, leaving sufficient time for extracurricular creative and research work.  

The MFA is considered a "terminal" degree in creative and performance work and positions students for teaching careers in higher education as well as a variety of other careers in the field. It is also an important platform for PhD studies in related fields such as dance history, performance studies and related advanced theoretical work. The CU Boulder MFA program is designed to accommodate a variety of students, from the practicing professional to the recent BA/BFA graduate. Our MFA develops students’ creativity, physicality, performance, pedagogical and scholarly skills in equal measure. Our primary hope is to enable a deepening of your artistic voice, to put what is distinctive about you in conversation with the world.

We hope your decision to pursue an MFA in Dance is an indication that you are hungry to embark upon the challenges, rewards and maturation this experience will bring. Great transformations in your learning will provide exhilaration, reconsideration of your perceptions and moments of intellectual expansion.

Dance Program Mission Statement

We encourage the pursuit of one’s choreographic voice, embodied scholarship, and pedagogical refinement. Our program scaffolds entrepreneurial approaches to art-making based in rigor, curiosity, and versatility. Through our diverse, “choose-your-own adventure” style curriculum, we support the vital cultivation of self-awareness alongside a nuanced appreciation of one’s positionality within a global conversation.

  • 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 ballet, improvisation, jazz, Hip-hop, Transnational Fusion, modern, African dance and others.
  • To actively engage in dance research, with particular attention to discovering relationships between scholarship and creative work.
  • To examine 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, student peers and guest artists working in a variety of aesthetic and technical styles.


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 other artists.

Required curriculum makes up 45 of the 60 credit hours for the MFA degree, and can be divided into the following categories:

  • Dance Technique - 16 credit hours
  • Philosophy, Theory and History of Dance - 9 credit hours
  • Composition Series - 11 credit hours
  • Research and Teaching - 4 credit hours
  • MFA Graduation Project - 5 credit hours

The remaining 15 credit hours are used as electives. At least 9 of these elective credit hours are used to fulfill the Secondary Emphasis requirement.

Secondary Emphasis Requirement

MFA candidates are required to choose at least one secondary area of study designed to give variety and dimension to the student’s training. The university setting is particularly well-suited to broad educational goals, given the wide variety of subjects available for involvement. Possible secondary areas of extended study are:

  • Aerial Dance*
  • Anthropology
  • Conflict & Peace Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Dance Criticism
  • Differently Abled/Disability Studies
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Film/Video/Music
  • Hip-hop/Urban Dance
  • History
  • Kinesiology
  • Multi-media Forms
  • Non-concert Forms
  • Outreach/Community Engagement 
  • Performance Art
  • Site Specific work
  • Space Applications & Technologies
  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Women & Gender Studies
  • Writing/poetry/literature

Somatics: Alexander Technique, Body Mind Centering, GYROTONICS/GYROKINESIS®, Pilates

There are two broad categries of secondary emphasis:

On-Campus Emphases

Students may choose an emphasis that can be fulfilled by courses taken within the department and/or in other campus departments.  We encourage students to search far and wide through CU’s offerings to discover courses and areas of study that are particularly suited to their individual interests and career goals.

Some of our students complete a graduate certificate offered by another department as their secondary emphasis. Some possible certificates of interest to MFA students are: 

Off-Campus Emphases

The Somatic Emphasis and the Aerial Dance Emphasis are sponsored by the department but require students to take some of the private lessons and training that occur at local specialty centers. Because of this extra-curricular study, the number of CU Boulder credit hours required for the MFA is reduced from 60 to 50 credit hours. For additional information on these emphases, please visit the Aerial Dance Emphasis and Somatic Emphasis pages of this website.