Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance

Choreography by Travis Prokop; Photo by Lynn Lane
Choreography by graduate student Travis Prokop; Featured in ACDA 2015 Gala Concert; Dancers Jennifer Mabus & Travis Prokop; Photo by Lynn Lane


MFA in Dance Program Overview

The Master of Fine Arts program in the Department of Dance at Sam Houston State University is a dynamic, challenging education that integrates creativity, performance, and scholarly pursuits. In addition to an intensive studio experience with substantive choreographic and performance opportunities, the MFA program offers exposure to philosophical, theoretical, and research orientations to dance as an art form. Courses in composition, dance theory, production, dance technology, and Laban Movement Analysis broaden the scope of study.

The MFA is a 60 credit terminal degree in dance taking three years of residency in the Department of Dance. For qualifying applicants with extensive professional experience it is possible to complete the degree in 4-5 semesters. The degree culminates in a creative thesis project designed by the candidate that expands the student’s area of interest through specified research and creative investigation. Graduates from the Department of Dance are successfully employed around the nation in a variety of careers including college and university teaching, performance, choreography, administration, and production. 

The Department of Dance also offers a returning professional track that allows artists who have substantial experience in the field to return to school on an accelerated time table to assist them with the next step in their professional careers. This program is supportive of candidates who are interested in shifting the focus of their dance career - such as from performing to teaching. 

"After a dedicated performing career, the returning professional MFA program allowed me to develop my next role as an educator and artist. I was able to strengthen my pedagogical skills and broaden my knowledge. As a creator, the department gave me the space to explore my curiosity, deepen my research, and strengthen my choreographic voice. This degree prepared me for the leadership a mid-career artist must take in the field of dance." - Jennifer Mabus, Returning Professional and MFA Graduate Class of 2016

This degree is structured to meet two objectives:

(1) to offer advanced preparation of the dance artist by providing intensive studio training, choreographic and performance opportunities and

(2) to provide the developing artist with a philosophical, theoretical, and research orientation to dance as an art form.

For additional information, please contact the Dance graduate academic advisor, Dionne Noble at 936-294-1588 or dln008@shsu.edu.


Admission Requirements

The next auditions for the MFA program are scheduled for
November 10, 2017 and April 6, 2018 from 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM. 

Register for MFA audition

To apply to the MFA in Dance degree program, submit the following application materials directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions:

  1. Letter of Inquiry (stating dance background and interest in MFA program)
  2. Graduate Studies Online Application with the Application Fee
  3. Resume/Curriculum Vita
  4. Video Portfolio of Performance and Choreography
  5. Three Letters of Recommendation
  6. Transcripts of all Previous College Work
  7. Confirmation of Degree Conferral

In addition applicants also attend an onsite audition that will include:

  1. Submission of a Writing Sample
  2. Interview with Dance Faculty
  3. Technique Audition in Ballet and Modern Dance
  4. Presentation of a solo performance of a choreographic work composed by the applicant

*A long distance audition including a Skype interview and video submission of technique and choreography can be arranged if the applicant is not able to make it to campus for on-site audition.

Please see Admissions link for scholarship information for MFA candidates.

Please note that international applicants must submit additional information. For International Admissions requirements, please visit shsu.edu/international.

Entrance and Retention Requirements

Admission is based upon an aggregated evaluation of all application components.

TRANSFER CREDIT. Up to 18 hours of graduate credit may be transferred toward the Master of Fine Arts in Dance degree. However, the MFA Graduate Committee reserves the right to refuse graduate credit from another institution or from Sam Houston State University for any courses not done specifically under the direction of the Dance MFA Graduate Committee.

PERIOD OF STUDY REQUIRED. The Master of Fine Arts degree requires a minimum of 60 semester credit hours. A grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained. Requirements of the degree must be completed within a period of six years.

MFA Course Requirements

Degree Requirements

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Dance
Course Name Hours
Specified Courses (45-51* credit hours)
Choose from:
DANC 5333  Dvlpmt Advanced Skills in Dance 12-18
DANC 5360 Smnr in Dance Production 3
DANC 5371 Theory of Dance 3
DANC 5373 Laban Movement Analysis 3
DANC 5374 Laban Movement Analysis II 3
DANC 5376 Dance Composition I 3
DANC 5378 Dance Composition II 3
DANC 5380 Dance Composition III 3
DANC 5384 Dance Pedagogy in Higher Ed 3
DANC 5385 Research Methods in Dance 3
DANC 5388 Dance & Integrated Technologies 3
DANC 5389 Professional Issues in Dance 3
Electives (6 credit hours)
DANC 5092 Special Topics  
DANC 5093 Independent Study
The graduate faculty in Dance will entertain petitions from the candidate to take courses from other disciplines pending appropriate justification within the overall course of study designed by the candidate in consultation with the graduate advisor.
Thesis (6 credit hours)
Choose all from:
DANC 6098 Thesis 3
DANC 6099 Thesis  3
Total 60

A thesis is required of all MFA candidates. The thesis will be a formal concert or alternative creative project of the student's work, accompanied by a supporting thesis portfolio. A Defense of Thesis is conducted following the conclusion of thesis study. The student must also pass an oral examination testing general knowledge of dance concepts, philosophy, and traditions as they relate to his/her thesis work. The oral examination will be conducted by the candidate's graduate committee and selected members of the division faculty. After the oral examination has been passed and the thesis performance and supporting thesis portfolio have been approved by the graduate committee, the candidate is recommended for the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Dance. A record of the thesis will be supplied by the candidate to be retained permanently by the university.

MFA in Dance Student Handbook - All Dance majors are required to follow the guidelines laid out in the MFA Student Handbook.


Graduate Assistantships

The Department of Dance awards competitive graduate assistantships each year to students based on qualifications and academic standing. The Graduate Assistantships are generally awarded to second and/or third year students. Assistantship responsibilities include fulfilling six credit hours of assignments in support of the department’s activities equivalent of .50 FTE. Assignments are determined based on department needs. Once Graduate Assistants have completed 18 hours of course work, they may be listed as the instructor of record for courses and assigned classes to teach as part of their load.

Assistantship criteria:

  • Remain enrolled as a Graduate Student in the Department of Dance at Sam Houston State University throughout the academic year.
  • Fulfill all requirements of assistantship responsibilities including consistent teaching of courses, completion of tasks, and display of professional, positive, leadership qualities.
  • Fulfill academic requirements as specified by the graduate course of study and graduate faculty.
  • Maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
  • As a recipient of a Graduate Assistantship, understand that you are representing the Department of Dance. The award may be reevaluated or revoked at any time based upon the review and discretion of dance faculty. 

To apply for a Graduate Assistantship from the Department of Dance the following must be submitted to Dionne Noble, Graduate Advisor, by February 15th 2017 for Fall 2017 consideration:

For information about the assistantships contact Dionne Noble, Graduate Advisor for Dance at dln008@shsu.edu or 936-294-1588.




Department of Dance
815 17th Street, Suite 150, Huntsville, TX 77340
Phone: (936) 294-3342 or (936) 294-1875 | E-mail: shsudance@shsu.edu