Department of Dance Office: DC-S131     Phone: 562-985-4747     Fax: 562-985-7896






Thank you for your interest in the MFA in Dance at CSULB.
The Department will not be accepting applications during 2014-2015.

Please check back in August 2015 for updated information about the MFA program.


Student Jump

MFA Degree Description and Philosophy
Application requirements
Selection and Admission Process
Prerequisite courses
Curriculum (60 units total)
Opportunities for Performance/Choreography
Student Learning Outcomes
Financial Aid
Graduate Associateships and Assistantships

MFA Degree Description and Philosophy
MFA Degree Description and Philosophy The MFA degree in Dance is a 60-unit plan of study emphasizing performance and choreography grounded in the modern dance genre. This degree requires 3 years in residence to complete all course work. The Masters of Fine Arts degree is considered to be the terminal degree in performance and choreography in the United States and is the degree required for most tenure-track university and college teaching positions. CSULB offers the only MFA in Dance in the California State University system.

The CSULB Department of Dance has chosen to keep the MFA degree program small and selective in order to provide adequate resources to all students in the degree plan. Each year three to four new candidates are accepted into the program, thus during a given year there are between 9 and 12 MFAs enrolled. It is expected that applicants for the MFA in Dance should have some professional experience in the field prior to application.


Application requirements
There are two parts to the application process and a live audition (see below) required for admission to the program.

A. Required of the University:

     1. A completed CSULB graduate application with original undergraduate transcripts processed directly through CSUMentor, which will be processed by CSULB's Admissions Office of Enrollment Services.

     The application is available at 

     Additional information about graduate study and financial aid at CSULB is available on the Graduate Studies website at

     2. International students must follow the specific requirements for international admissions listed in the CSULB General Catalog and online at

B. Required by the Department of Dance: Send items directly to Dr. Colleen Dunagan at the CSULB Department of Dance (address is given below) 

      1. Cover letter (A one page letter confirming intent to apply for entrance to the MFA Program and indicating the materials contained on the DVD.)
      2. Personal statement (2 pages, typed, double-spaced) addressing how obtaining an MFA degree from CSULB will fulfill intended professional goals.
      3. Resume or Curriculum Vitae
      4. 3 current, confidential letters of reference
      5. DVD of your choreography: at a minimum we need to see one group work (3 or more dancers) of 5 to 10 minutes in length

C. Physical audition on the CSULB campus (Dance Center, Studio 3): TBD

This audition will include a ballet and modern technique class, a presentation of a 3-5 minute solo composition, and a personal interview with faculty.


Selection and Admission Process

Candidates admitted into this program will be selected on the following criteria:
     * audition in performance and choreography;
     * professional experience in the field;
     * undergraduate degree in dance or equivalent
       with a 3.0 g.p.a. in upper division dance courses;
     * professional goals which can be supported through the plan of study;
     * completion of all application materials.

All candidates will be admitted into the program on conditional status. Removal of the conditional status will occur after all prerequisite work has been completed and the University's Graduate Writing Assessment (WPE/GPE) has been passed. Additional information can be found online:

Graduate Writing Assessment



Prerequisite courses

The Department recognizes the following undergraduate courses (see below) as necessary preparation for graduate level study in dance. Applicants to the MFA program are expected (1) to have taken the prerequisite courses prior to entering the MFA program, and/or (2) to complete any missing prerequisites during the first year of study, and/or (3) to demonstrate competence by testing out of prerequisite courses. These undergraduate courses are often contained in an undergraduate BA or BFA in Dance. MFA Candidates may fulfill most prerequisite requirements while completing graduate courses; the Department regularly offers these courses. All prerequisite courses fulfilled at CSULB must be taken for a letter grade.

     * Advanced ballet and modern technique
     * Dance Composition and Improvisation (3 courses)
     * Dance History (2 courses)
     * Music for Dance
     * Anatomy for dancers and/or Kinesiology
     * Dance Notation or Laban Movement Analysis
     * Lighting Design and Costume Design for Dance (2 courses)


Curriculum (60 units total)

12 units -- Technique:
     DANC 512/510A Int/Advanced Modern Technique (2) [8 total units]
     DANC 514/510B Int/Advanced Ballet Technique (2) [4 total units]

15-17 units -- Theory
     DANC 597 Criticism and Analysis of Dance (3)
     DANC 505 Dance Pedagogy (3)
     DANC 605 Seminar in Dance (2)
     DANC 565 Dance Science as Related to Teaching Technique (3)
     DANC 693 Teaching Internship (1-3)
     DANC 588 Seminar in Dance Management (2)

23 units -- Performance/Choreography/Production
     DANC 520A,B,C,D Choreography (3) [12 total units] 
     DANC 580A,B, 585A,B Performance (1) [4 total units] 
     DANC 592 Special Topics: Production (1) 
     DANC 699 THESIS (6)

8-10 units -- Electives


Opportunities for Performance/Choreography

Graduate concerts are held in the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater each semester.  Graduate candidates have the opportunity to present their choreography during their second and third years of study.  Candidates typically produce three choreographic works as their thesis project.  In addition, the Department produces two faculty/guest artist concerts and one undergraduate concert each academic year.  The Department annually participates in the American College Dance Festival Association's regional conferences and each semester hosts guest choreographers to restage or create works on student performers.
View a list of recent guest artists in our undergraduate handbook.


Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will explore, practice, and actualize the craft of making dances to communicate a declared intention.
2. Students will refine proficiency in modern dance and ballet movement vocabularies, enabling them to pursue careers in the professional arenas of performance/choreography and/or education.
3. Students will engage in theoretical inquiry and study in the dance-related areas of history, music, film/video, aesthetics, dance science, and dance criticism. 
4. Students will attain substantial knowledge/practical skills in preparation for teaching, including theoretical, practical, and kinesiological perspectives.
5. Students will acquire practical skills in the production aspects of dance, including costume design, lighting design, and stage management and/or public relations.


Financial Aid

While the Department of Dance has limited scholarship funds, partial scholarships are available, as well as paid teaching associate positions.  Every effort is made to help graduate students whenever possible with internal support, such as work study within the Department, as well as guidance for finding support with the help of the CSULB Financial Aid office.

Financial Aid information can be found here:

Information regarding costs of the program may be found here:


Graduate Associateships and Assistantships

The Department of Dance awards graduate associateships and teaching assistantships to qualified MFA candidates. Most graduate associates provide work to the Department in the areas of production, Dance Center supervision, special project assistants, etc. Teaching assistantships are usually awarded to students who are qualified to teach non-major beginning dance activity courses in jazz, modern, and/or ballet. MFA candidates are considered for these awards after they have been fully accepted into the University and the Department of Dance.

For more information  regarding any aspect of the MFA in Dance degree, contact:

Dr. Colleen Dunagan (Ph.D.) Graduate Advisor 
CSULB Department of Dance
1250 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90840-7201



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