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 program is geared towards returning professionals’ needs and is designed to meet the scheduling constraints of working dance professional performers, choreographers and educators as they earn their degree.

The MFA in Dance at UWM consists of 60 credits with an emphasis on contemporary choreography and performance.  Graduate students have the opportunity to examine their technical skills through current and cutting edge somatic perspectives and define their research emphases through rigorous inquiry into physical and theoretical practices. The 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 K-12 public and private institutions. The faculty fully supports student research by providing space and opportunities to investigate and perform their work in Milwaukee. They then integrate their studies into a culminating whole through their final thesis projects.

The MFA program first and foremost supports student-based research. Faculty teaching in the program are acclaimed performers, choreographers and/or researchers in the field. Their research spans cultural forms and techniques in Brazilian forms, integration of somatics into dance curricula, and performance research including site-specific performance and technology integration and application. Dance Department faculty have been recognized by UWM with a Research Growth Initiatives grant plus two Wisconsin Arts Board Choreographic Fellowships. Faculty members regularly present their work at NDEO, PCA, ACDA, in performance, and internationally.

Our students represent a cross-section of talented contemporary dance choreographers from across the United States including New York, Texas, California and the Midwest. To see former students who have received an MFA from us, please click here

For further information:

Daniel Burkholder, 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:   
      • Reasons for pursuing graduate study
      • Specific interests and your background in the field
      • Relevant skills or training
      • Relevant academic awards or honors received
    • 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.