The Department of Dance offers graduate study leading to the Master of Fine Arts in Dance. The program offers opportunity to hone technical skills, to explore personal intuition, imagination, and craft both in creating dance works and also in performing them, and to focus on critical areas of dance core studies.

The MFA in Dance is structured to meet the scheduling constraints of working dance professional performers, choreographers, and educators: A block of on-campus and distance learning coursework is available during the fall and spring semesters, in addition to the intensive summer graduate course offerings.

Our program consists of 60 credits with an emphasis on contemporary choreography and performance, focusing on the candidate’s independent creative research. Graduate students engage in choreographic research through physical and theoretical inquiry while having the opportunity to examine their technical movement practice through current somatic perspectives. The program supports student research by providing facilities and customized opportunities to investigate and perform their work in Milwaukee. Through faculty mentorship and rigorous personal explorations, students are guided to integrate their research into a final thesis project.

Faculty teaching in the program are nationally and internationally acclaimed performing and choreographic artists in the field. Their research spans cultural perspectives, technical forms, somatic modalities, site-specific performance, improvisation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and technology and new media.

Our students are prepared to be future university dance professors, as well as secondary school educators with the means to expand their theoretical and choreographic skills, while simultaneously increasing their earning potential in academic institutions and K-12 public and private schools.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


Applicants who meet Graduate School requirements plus these program requirements may be admitted in good standing:

  1. Reason Statement:  Content must include the following:
    • Explain the aspects of your embodied practice and what you achieve through that experience (movement tradition, teaching, somatics, writing, performance, creation). How do you see your movement practice evolving in the field of contemporary performance?
    • Articulate how you investigate and create unique choreographic work based on your movement practice(s). Include how your intellectual interests inform your choreographic inquiry.
    • Out of state students will be considered for a Non-Resident-Tuition Remission Award. To qualify, please provide a one-paragraph statement of financial need to be included in your application. Include information of your current financial situation that outlines your economic need. 
  2. Required Work Sample: Work sample description page (no more than 3 pages total) with video URLs for 10-12 minutes of recent performance and/or choreography. This may consist of excerpted works (minimum two minutes from each work). Must include exact URL (web address) for each work (clickable links preferred, with passwords on the description page as necessary). For each work, the description should include choreographer, performers, venue, company or organization, dates, and any other applicable information (designers, etc).
  3. Required Curriculum Vitae or Resume (no more than 5 pages.
  4. Optional Press Materials: Preference is a single pdf (not individual file uploads).
  5. Recommendations: Two (2) recent recommendations from people who can provide information on your qualifications. The site permits the recommenders to write or upload their statements directly into the system (preferred) or the department can upload on behalf of the recommenders.

Credits and Courses

Minimum degree requirement in Performing Arts-Dance is 60 credits distributed as follows, of which at least 6 must be in complementary studies.

Dance Techniques and Somatics (Modern, African, Ballet, Alexander, Pilates, Yoga), 9-15 cr.
Creating, Staging, and Performing Dance Works, 16-22 cr.
Theory and Application of Dance, 12-18 cr.
Electives in Complementary Studies, 6-14 cr.
Final Project, 4-8 cr.
Total Credits60

Final Project

Each student must undertake a final project of either one or two semesters duration (4-8 cr.). The project must be approved by the major advisor. The project will inevitably relate to dance and movement, so that there is often a choreographic component involved, most likely a concert. These may occur in a variety of approved performance settings which may include on- or off-campus sites. Nonetheless, all projects require research and a written component, which will vary depending on the process (and number of credits), working with a thesis chair and two other committee members.

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise studies as specified in Graduate School regulations; the student may not register for any courses without this advisor’s prior approval. A student who is not assigned to an advisor at the time of admission should immediately contact the Program Director.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within seven years of initial enrollment.