Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance

The MFA degree's 60-unit plan of study emphasizes choreographic exploration and presentation in addition to preparing students for teaching careers in higher education. The program provides MFA candidates with theoretical and practice-based study, teaching opportunities, production skills, and a thesis project focusing on the creation of original choreography. CSULB Dance has chosen to keep the MFA degree small and selective to provide students with ready resources and mentorship. We seek candidates whose experiences include professional-level investigation and choreography in dance beyond the baccalaureate level. Practitioners of any movement/dance genre are encouraged to apply to the MFA in Dance degree program.

CSULB Dance works diligently to provide scholarships and award support for MFA candidates, including the endowed Celeste Kennedy Scholarship for Graduate Dance Study and other competitive and merit-based College of the Arts funding. MFA candidates with teaching experience may also earn income within the department by applying for part-time teaching positions beginning in their first year of study. MFA candidates are usually assigned general education and non-major technique classes, which are offered in a variety of genres, in accordance with the candidate's area of expertise and experience.

Our MFA in Dance is centered on the following student learning outcomes:

  • Craft dances that communicate a declared intention; skills include actualizing concepts, directing and collaborating with performers and contributors, processing feedback, implementing revisions, and ethically/critically considering the role of the work in the contemporary climate.
  • Produce their own danceworks; students will demonstrate a working knowledge of lighting design, costume design, stage management, technical direction, house management, and/or public relations. Additionally, students will be able to work in collaboration with theater technicians and design professionals.
  • Articulate effectively in oral and written form their artistic and pedagogical goals/vision/philosophy, positioning them to work in higher education and/or the professional creative field.
  • Identify and characterize trends in the contemporary dance canon, and articulate and advocate for the role of their work within the field.
  • Organize and communicate both practical and theoretical dance concepts in diverse pedagogical contexts, using knowledge gained via teaching practicum, internships, and the study of dance science.

Your time as a MFA candidate in our program will be focused on dancemaking as you complete the coursework listed below

Take 4 units from the following:
  • DANC 511A - MFA Technique Laboratory (2 units)
  • DANC 511B - MFA Technique Laboratory (2 units)
Take 20 units from the following:
  • DANC 505 - Dance Pedagogy (3 units)
  • DANC 565 - Dance Science as Related to Teaching Technique (3 units)
  • DANC 570 - Practical Research Methods in Dance (3 units)
  • DANC 588 - Seminar in Dance Management (3 units)
  • DANC 597 - Criticism and Analysis of Dance (3 units)
  • DANC 605 - Seminar in Dance (2-3 units)
  • DANC 693 - Teaching Internship (1-3 units)
Take 16 units from the following:
Take 5 units from the following:
Take 3 additional units from the following:
  • DANC 420 - Advanced Composition (2 units)
  • DANC 422 - Improvisation (2 units)
  • DANC 510A - Technique Laboratory (1-3 units)
  • DANC 510B - Technique Laboratory (1-3 units)
  • DANC 510C - Technique Laboratory (1-3 units)
  • DANC 511A - MFA Technique Laboratory (2 units)
  • DANC 511B - MFA Technique Laboratory (2 units)
  • DANC 512 - Advanced Modern Technique (2 units)
  • DANC 580A - Dance Performance (1 unit)
  • DANC 591A - Advanced Design for Dance Lighting (3 units)
  • DANC 591B - Advanced Design for Dance Costuming (3 units)
  • DANC 595 - Repertory (1-3 units)
6 units of additional coursework at the 400/500/600 level
Take 6 units of the following:

Fall 2025 Admission

Application Opens on CalStateApply: October 1, 2024, by 11:59 PM PST

Application Closes on CalStateApply: December 1, 2024 by 11:59 PM PST

Live dance auditions and interviews will be held on February 1, 2025, in the Dance Center on the CSU Long Beach campus.

Admission to the MFA in Dance at CSULB Dance is a two-part process: the application to the university and the department audition process. The Department accepts new students into the program in the Fall semester of each year. Application to the MFA in Dance does not require GRE scores.

Prerequisites for Admission to the MFA in Dance

  • Intermediate or advanced technique in at least one movement practice.
  • Three courses in dance composition and/or improvisation, OR substantially demonstrated training and dance-making experience.
  • Undergraduate degree in dance, or an undergraduate degree in any field plus substantial training and experience in the field of dance.
  • Undergraduate degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.

In addition to meeting the departmental prerequisites listed above, applicants must meet the University graduate program admission eligibility.  To be competitive for University graduate scholarships a GPA of 3.25 is required.

Application Procedures

Step One: University Application

Applicants must apply to the University, including sending an official transcript to Enrollment Services and uploading supplemental documents as detailed below.

  • Complete and submit a CSULB graduate/post-baccalaureate application (requires an application fee) via Cal State Apply.
  • Send an official copy of college/university transcript where the undergraduate/Baccalaureate degree was conferred to University Enrollment Services.
  • International students should submit an international application via Cal State Apply AND consult the International Admissions website for instructions regarding submission of transcripts as well as additional application requirements. International students should be prepared to upload unofficial transcripts as part of their Cal State Apply application.
  • Supplemental materials required as part of the University Application – all materials must be uploaded in order to submit the application.
    1. Cover letter - please indicate to which degree you are applying and address how you have met the minimum prerequisites for the program by noting courses taken and/or professional experience that meets the prerequisites.
    2. Resume or curriculum vitae - please include employment, education, dance training, performance, and choreography with a clear indication of relevant dates.
    3. A 1-2 page statement that provides the following information: links (URL) to two original choreographic works (at least one group work of 3 or more people) created by the applicant and posted to either Vimeo (if set to private, provide a password) or YouTube (set to unlisted) and a concise discussion of each work’s intent, process, and goals, names of performers, and production credits (titles, composers/music, lighting, etc.)
    4. Two-page (double-spaced) statement of purpose addressing how applicant’s professional goals will be met through this plan of study. This statement should include the applicant’s current artistic vision, where the applicant would like to see expansion in their creative practice, and their previous work in the field.
    5. Three (3) current letters of recommendation submitted directly from the writer. Please enter your recommenders’ names and contact information here. Once your application is submitted, CalState Apply will contact the individuals listed as references in your application for admission with a request to submit a confidential letter of recommendation on your behalf. Please let your recommenders know they should be receiving an email and to check their spam/junk mail folders if they do not see it in their inbox.

Step Two: Live Audition and Interviews

Candidates who have fulfilled prerequisites and successfully submitted their application will be asked to participate in a live movement audition and personal interview with faculty from the CSULB Department of Dance at the Dance Center.                                                                                             

  • Applicants who are invited to the live audition will be asked to submit a teaching sample from a movement class via video prior to the audition date.
  • At the audition, invited applicants will be asked to perform a 3-5 minute solo that demonstrates the applicant’s choreographic skill and technical proficiency in a dance form of their choosing.

Invitations to audition and detailed instructions will be emailed in December 2024.
The live audition and interview will held on February 1, 2025.  
Please plan to spend the morning and afternoon on campus.

Acceptance to the MFA in Dance

After submitting all application materials, those who pass the admissions review are recommended by the faculty to be admitted as either Classified or Conditionally Classified. A Classified Graduate has satisfied all prerequisites. A Conditionally Classified Graduate has outstanding prerequisites to complete. Acceptance is not complete until the applicant has received both notification of acceptance from the Department of Dance and a formal letter of acceptance from the CSULB Office of Enrollment Services.

Admitted graduate applicants will be required to accept or decline their offer of admissions and pay the $150 Enrollment Deposit.

If you have additional questions about the program, please contact the Department of Dance at and MFA Advisor Rebecca Bryant at