University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Dance MFA

The Department of Dance offers a low-residency graduate program leading to the Master of Fine Arts in Dance. The program follows an intense hybrid schedule (part online and part on campus) that includes two 7-week retreat-like summers on an urban campus, walking distance to Lake Michigan.

The M.F.A. in Dance at UWM consists of 60 credits with an emphasis on contemporary choreography and performance, focusing on the candidate’s independent creative research. Graduate students engage in choreographic research through physical and theoretical inquiry while having the opportunity to examine their technical movement practice through current somatic perspectives. The program supports student research by providing facilities and customized opportunities to investigate and perform their work in Milwaukee. Through faculty mentorship and rigorous personal explorations, students are guided to integrate their research into a final thesis project.

Faculty teaching in the program are nationally and internationally acclaimed performing and choreographic artists in the field. Their research spans cultural perspectives, technical forms, somatic modalities, site-specific performance, improvisation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and technology and new media.

The M.F.A. in Dance program prepares future university dance professors and provides secondary school educators with the means to expand their theoretical and choreographic skills, while increasing their earning potential in academic institutions and K-12 public and private schools.

For further information:

Simone Ferro, Graduate Program Director

MFA Degree Admission

Admission to the MFA in Dance is in the summer term only. We encourage all applicants to contact the department prior to the application deadlines.

Most application materials should be uploaded through the UWM Graduate School, not sent via email or mail. The possible exceptions are letters of recommendation and transcripts.

Application Deadlines and Admission Timelines

  • March: Application available for following summer admission the following year.
  • November 1: Priority Admission Consideration (greatest chances of financial support, including the ability to apply for the Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship and the Distinguished Graduate Student Fellowship in January/February).
  • November 2–March 1: Rolling Admission Consideration. Students applying after January 1 cannot be assured financial support.
  • January 1 (approx): First round of acceptance, waiting list and denial notifications. Newly admitted (and continuing) students are able to submit applications for the Distinguished Graduate Student Fellowship and the Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (see  Financial Assistance section of this Handbook).
  • March 15 (approx): Last round of acceptance and denial notifications.
  • April 1 (approx): All wait list members receive acceptance or denial notifications.

Application Requirements

  • Questionnaires     
    • Relationship with UWM
    • Legal Name
    • National Identification
    • Current Mailing Address
    • Permanent Mailing Address
    • Reason Statement: Content should include the following:           
      • Explain the aspects of your embodied practice and what you achieve through that experience (movement tradition, teaching, somatics, writing, performance, creation). How do you see your movement practice evolving in the field of contemporary performance?
      • Articulate how you investigate and create unique choreographic work based on your movement practice(s). Include how your intellectual interests inform your choreographic inquiry.
      • Out of state students will be considered for a Non-Resident-Tuition Remission Award. To qualify, please provide a one-paragraph statement of financial need to be included in your application. Include information of your current financial situation that outlines your economic need. 
    • Required Work Sample: Work sample description page (no more than 3 pages total) with video URLs for 10-12 minutes of recent performance and/or choreography. This may consist of excerpted works (minimum two minutes from each work). Must include exact URL (web address) for each work (clickable links preferred, with passwords on the description page as necessary). For each work, the description should include choreographer, performers, venue, company or organization, dates, and any other applicable information (designers, etc).
    • Required Curriculum Vitae or Resume (no more than 5 pages)
    • Required Financial Need Statement: In a single paragraph, please explain, to what extent (if any), a non-resident tuition remission (NRTR) award is essential to pursue your graduate education at UWM.
    • Optional Press Materials: Preference is a single PDF (not individual file uploads).
  • Recommendations: Two (2) recommendations from people who can provide information on your qualifications. The site permits the recommenders to write or upload their statements directly into the system (preferred) or the department can upload on behalf of the recommenders.
  • Material Submissions:
    • Application Fee(s)
    • No GRE or GMAT test scores are required
    • Required for International Applicants: TOEFL test scores submitted directly to the institution. Graduate School staff will import into the site.
  • Signature Documents     
    • Academic History: Institutions and Transcripts           
      • Add a new institution record and upload transcripts for each post-secondary/higher education institution attended. Unofficial transcripts are accepted.
    • Electronic Signature: once everything else is complete!

Admission Criteria

  • Graduate School: Bachelor’s degree (does not need to be in Dance) with a minimum of 2.75 GPA (4.0 scale). Our applicants generally exceed the minimum GPA (however, keep in mind, certain types of financial assistance require a higher GPA). Conditional admission is possible due to lower GPA but uncommon in Dance.
  • Department of Dance: 
    • Academic: Proven ability in artistic analysis, critical thinking, and writing skills.
    • Artistic: High level of artistic accomplishment in choreography, performance or teaching.
    • Maturity: Ability to be self-motivating and organized are essential for success in this program.

Degree Curriculum

Download the MFA Student Handbook for Dance MFA Curriculum and Suggested Course of Study, or see the UWM Graduate School for course descriptions.