The Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Dance at the University of Alabama will develop students’ creative, performance, and scholarly work and prepare them for multiple professional destinations as dance artists, administrators, scholars, and teachers. The Dance (MFA) degree program will support the development of diverse skills in classical and contemporary dance techniques, dance pedagogy, historical perspectives and critical theory, as well as technical and artistic integration of dance-specific technologies. 

Over the course of three years, students will complete a total of 60 credit hours in a range of studio related dance studies courses. Students are expected to complete their coursework on the Tuscaloosa campus where faculty may nurture and support their progress through the curriculum. Students will also complete and present a substantial MFA Final Project demonstrating a synthesis of craft, artistic vision and conceptual rigor, as well as professional competence in their selected research area. The Final Project is based on creative work, a choreographic/creative project usually presented in a concert, followed by a scholarly paper and an oral defense of the project and paper.

Admission and assistantships are awarded based upon audition, interview and acceptance into The University of Alabama Graduate School. For more information, please contact Associate Chair of Dance, Lawrence Jackson at 

Admission Requirements

An audition and interview is required for all M.F.A. applicants. Acceptance into the Department of Theatre and Dance (M.F.A.) program requires admission to the UA Graduate School as well as admission to the department. The audition will include movement classes to demonstrate technical and performance proficiency. Each prospective M.F.A. student will be scheduled for a 20-30 minute individual interview with members of the faculty during the audition process. Applicants will open the interview with a brief presentation that highlights their interests in graduate work at UA and outlines possible areas of emphasis.

Statement of Purpose: Compose a narrative, relating research and movement practice interests to pursuing a degree within the UA program. The essay should situate candidate within the field at the present time, gathering significant details of candidate’s previous experience, clarifying his/her current involvement and interest in dance, and speculating about the candidate’s future intentions within the field. Reviewers are interested in getting to know something about the candidate as a dance professional through this writing: what have you done that has led you here, how do you articulate your aesthetic sensibility, what do you hope to accomplish in your studies?

Curriculum Vitae: This document should accurately reflect candidate’s completed educational background and all of his/her professional and related experiences to date. Document should be thorough and comprehensive.

Work Sample(s): List Vimeo, YouTube or similar resources as hyperlinks in a Word or PDF attachment. These samples should demonstrate candidate’s expertise and interests, such as excerpts of choreography, documentation of performances, samples of lighting plots, dance notation, or dance media projects. All materials must be accompanied by a clearly written legend identifying the contents, including title, order of materials, date and explicit identification of your contribution. Film clips may be edited or unedited and there is no time limit.

Writing Sample: The Dance Faculty will review writing samples to determine applicants’ potential research and creative interests and to assess their competency as writers. Candidates will submit a substantive piece of writing, one that demonstrates their thoughtfulness and capacity to handle language with fluency. This writing submission must be at least 4 pages double-spaced but no more than 20 pages; this might take the form of a critical review, process paper, or scholarly essay. 

At least three letters of recommendation must be submitted. Letters should speak to candidate’s artistic and academic strengths. At least two letters should be from someone at an academic institution (past or present) who can speak to these strengths, even if previous academic work was not in Dance. 

GRE scores are not required.

Course Requirements

Code and Title Hours
STUDIO/CREATIVE/PERFORMANCE (39 credits) Students will choose from the following options, up to 39 credit hours, 6 of which will include DN540 and DN541 during the first year, and 3 of which will include DN599 toward the final project.39
Contemporary Tech I-A
Contemporary Tech I-B
Graduate Ballet Technique I-A
Graduate Ballet Technique I-B
Graduate Jazz Technique I-A
Graduate Jazz Technique I-B
Contemporary Tech II-A
Contemporary Tech II-B
Graduate Ballet Technique II-A
Graduate Ballet Technique II-B
Graduate Jazz Technique II-A
Graduate Jazz Technique II-B
Graduate Movement Practice II
Improv and Comp I
Improv and Comp II
Graduate Teaching Practicum
DN 531Graduate Movement Practice I1 to 3
Rhythm, Music and Dance
Collaborative Practice
Creative Process in Dance I
Dance in the Digital Age
Performance Practicum I-A
Performance Practicum I-B
Performance Practicum II-A
Performance Practicum II-B
Staging Repertoire
DN 655Creative Process in Dance II1 to 3
DN 599Final Project Research1 to 3
ACADEMIC (15 credits) Students will choose from the following options, up to 15 credit hours, 3 of which will include either DNCA503 OR DNCA565 during the first year, 3 of which will include DNCA570, and 3 of which will include DNCA599 toward the final project.15
Graduate Teaching Methods
Science of Dance Training
Body Politics in Dance
Research Methods in Dance
DNCA 599Final Project Research1 to 3
ELECTIVES (6 credits) Students will choose 6 credits of electives based on their research focus. Courses may be within the dance degree or without.6
Total Hours64-72

Students must complete and present a substantial M.F.A. project demonstrating a synthesis of craft, artistic vision and conceptual rigor, as well as professional competence in the selected research area.

The culmination of graduate study is the M.F.A. Project. The Graduate Project is based on creative work: a choreographic/creative project usually presented in a concert, followed by a paper and an oral defense of the project and paper. Creative work can take any number of forms from proscenium performance, to site specific or interdisciplinary work, etc. In the second year of the degree program, a written proposal for the creative project must be presented and approved. Students will receive considered advice from faculty, however, the responsibility of articulating an idea and completing the proposed work in a fashion acceptable to the faculty rests with the student. In addition, all students will complete the following:

  • One copy of the project with disc and written documentation should be presented to the Department of Theatre and Dance for the Archival Library.
  • Successful oral examination including a discussion and defense of the synthesis of craft, artistic vision, and conceptual rigor as demonstrated in the project.