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What kinds of programs are available for dance education professionals?

There are more options than ever for graduate studies in dance and dance education. It can be difficult to know what kind of program is right for you. To start, you will want to consider your ultimate career goals. Different career paths will require different courses of study. For example, teaching in a university setting generally requires a terminal degree, and teaching in K-12 schools requires certification. Each degree also requires a different investment of time and funds, as well, which you should consider as you make your graduate school decision. As you are seeking clarity on what your ideal career will require, attending the National Dance Education Organization Conference or networking with NDEO members through our online forums can help you connect to professionals in your desired area of expertise.

A dancer in athletic gear and a winter hat, standing with her leg kick up looking to the sky, standing in what looks like a desert.

Barbara McAlister (pictured right), who recently earned an MFA from Texas Woman's University, did her due diligence when deciding which program type, if any, she would attend: “I weighed my desires against the employment and financial outcomes of a PhD vs MFA; literally doing the math on the cost of graduate school, plus loans and interest across the course of my lifetime; and most important, really digging into my own desires and expectations surrounding graduate school followed by creating a cost-benefit analysis of going to school vs gaining the training and qualifications I desired from other avenues.”

Some of the degrees conferred that relate to dance education include:

  • MA - Master’s Degree in Dance or Master's Degree in Dance Education: Focus can be on dance education, history, science, research, or related areas
  • MEd - Master of Education in Dance: Focus on pedagogy and research related to dance education, may also include a certification option
  • MSc - Master of Science in Dance: Focus on topics related to dance and dance education such as performance psychology, biomechanics, motor development, and kinesiology
  • MFA - Master of Fine Arts in Dance: Terminal degree; Pedagogy may be part of a comprehensive program that may also include dance performance, choreography, and research
  • EdD - Doctorate of Education in Dance: Terminal degree; Focus on pedagogy and research related to dance education
  • PhD - Doctor of Philosophy in Dance: Terminal degree; Focus on research related to dance history, aesthetics, philosophy, or other topics

Other dance or dance educations program options include full-time or part-time, in-person or online, and low-residency or hybrid, with some in-person experiences and some online. The National College Dance Directory can help you find and explore programs offering degrees in dance or dance education. Connecting with the national dance education community through the NDEO National Conference and online member forums can give you the chance to ask further in-depth questions to faculty members and current graduate students enrolled in programs that interest you.

Photo Credit: Barbara McAlister

Rosalinda Rojas, who attends Montclair State University, offers this insight into the myriad available program types. "It is important to research programs that align and support your articulated professional and dance academia goals. Online programming was a good fit and choice for my mid-career schedule."

Kayleigh Becker is also taking a non-traditional route in her graduate studies to accommodate her current career needs. She is pursuing her degree at California State University, Long Beach on a summer only, in person schedule. As she says, “I looked for programs that focused on dance education and refining teaching practices while advancing "whole program" skills. I ended up at CSULB because it is a small cohort program, that I can do while working full time, and learn skills that help me better facilitate classes and productions for my students.”

Dance and Dance Education Graduate School Programs

Finding the Right Program For You

Before Applying to Graduate School

Success in Graduate School

How Can NDEO Help You?