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MA in Dance (American Dance Studies)

Program Description

Live Oak, Performance & Choreography by FSU School of Dance Professor ANJALI AUSTIN. Photo by Carrie Seidman

Live Oak, Performance & Choreography by FSU School of Dance Professor ANJALI AUSTIN. Photo by Carrie Seidman

The focus of the Master of Arts (American Dance Studies) is on the critical study of dance through publicly engaged scholarship. Committed to scholarly and embodied research, the program investigates the significance of emergent and historical movement practices across stage, street, screen, and social dance forms. From the study of dance history and historiography to cultural criticism and dance ethnography, coursework emphasizes diverse approaches to the role of dance in cultures across the hemispheric Americas. The curriculum highlights FSU’s unique location in the American South and Florida panhandle—a nexus of African, European, First Nations, and Caribbean movement vocabularies. The program engages students with dance’s wide-ranging global contexts through investigations grounded in diaspora and transnationalism, foregrounding questions related to power, culture, identity, contemporaneity, sustainability, and social movements. American Dance Studies prepares students for careers or continued studies in diverse areas of the dance field. Whether toward a future PhD Degree in dance or professional work in related areas of dance administration, dance archival studies, arts library science, dramaturgy, or performance, both thesis and capstone tracks pursue a rigorous course of study and development of independent, creative research projects geared toward student interests.

The MA in Dance (American Dance Studies) degree candidate should have an extensive background in dance and an undergraduate degree in an appropriate area of study such as (but not limited to) fine or performing arts, history, American studies, cultural studies, anthropology, or humanities. At least a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average or an appropriate score on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination is required for admission. Admission into the degree program will be determined on the basis of these university-wide requirements, three required letters of recommendation, and the applicant’s required essay. The student’s progress is assessed continuously throughout their graduate study. A probationary period may be established if a student is having difficulty and needs special attention. The amount of work required, in addition to the minimum dance curricular requirements and the minimum University-wide requirements, depends upon the student’s undergraduate preparation.

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be considered for a University Fellowship nomination, a School of Dance assistantship, and/or tuition waiver, prospective students in the American Dance Studies program need to complete their application no later than January 15, 2019

Graduate Application

School of Dance Application


Curriculum Requirements

Thesis Option:

The MA in American Dance Studies requires a minimum of thirty-six semester hours of graduate-level course requirements, normally constituting a two-year course of study. This minimum must contain twenty-four semester hours of required courses, including three semester hours of a seminar in dance research, nine semester hours in American dance history, three semester hours in dance theory, three semester hours in special topics in dance, and six semester hours of thesis work. Additionally, the student must earn twelve semester hours of elective courses, which may be taken outside the School of Dance in relevant research fields (e.g. in American and Florida Studies, History, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Humanities, Music, Theatre, or Art History).

The student is required to include some movement experience in his or her degree program. The kind and scope of practical work will vary among students, depending on his or her professional and educational background, and the individual program of study will be developed with the adviser. The student must also complete the university-wide requirement regarding foreign language proficiency. This requirement may be met by one of the following: 1) Achieving a satisfactory performance on the Graduate School Foreign Language Test; 2) Labanotation or Laban Analysis (Effort Shape) coursework with a 3.0 (B) average; 3) Completion of twelve semester hours of college level foreign language; 4) Four years of a single language at the high school level. Credit for foreign language courses may not be counted toward elective requirements.

  1. Seminar: Seminar in Dance Research, Three semester hours: DAN 5191.
  2. Dance History: History of American Dance 1492–1892, History of American Dance 1892–1960, History of American Dance 1960–2000, Three semester hours each to total nine semester hours: DAN 5147, DAN 5148, DAN 5149.
  3. Theory of Dance: Three semester hours: DAN 5128.
  4. Special Topics in Dance: Three semester hours: DAN 5930.
  5. Master’s Thesis in Dance History: Six semester hours: DAN 5973.
  6. Master’s Thesis Defense: Zero semester hours: DAN 8976.
  7. Electives: Twelve semester hours.

Total: Thirty-six semester hours.

Course Intensive, Non-Thesis Option:

The MA in American Dance Studies requires a minimum of thirty-nine semester hours of graduate-level course requirements, normally constituting a two-year course of study. This minimum must contain eighteen semester hours of required courses, including three semester hours of a seminar in dance research, nine semester hours in American dance history, three semester hours in dance theory, and three semester hours in special topics in dance. Additionally, the student must earn twenty-one semester hours of elective courses in dance studies or outside the School of Dance (e.g. in American and Florida studies, History, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Humanities, Music, Theatre, or Art History). The student is required to include some movement experience in his or her degree program. The kind and scope of practical work will vary among students, depending on his or her professional and educational background, and the individual program of study will be developed with the adviser. The student must also complete the University-wide requirement regarding foreign language proficiency. This requirement may be met by one of the following: 1) Achieving a satisfactory performance on the Graduate School Foreign Language Test; 2) Labanotation or Laban Analysis (Effort Shape) coursework with a 3.0 (B) average; 3) Completion of twelve semester hours of college level foreign language; 4) Four years of a single language at the high school level. Credit for foreign language courses may not be counted toward elective requirements.

  1. Seminar: Seminar in Dance Research, Three semester hours: DAN 5191.
  2. Dance History: History of American Dance 1492–1892, History of American Dance 1892–1960, History of American Dance 1960–2000, Three semester hours each to total nine semester hours: DAN 5147, DAN 5148, DAN 5149.
  3. Theory of Dance: Three semester hours: DAN 5128.
  4. Special Topics in Dance: Three semester hours: DAN 5930.
  5. Electives: Twenty-one semester hours.

Total: Thirty-nine semester hours.

Comprehensive Examination

To fulfill graduation requirements, the successful completion of a final comprehensive examination and corresponding defense is required: DAN 5960.


Graduate Financial Aid

Graduate Assistantships are available to qualified students and often combines teaching and research or a combination of different work responsibilities. When applying, it is important to include as much information as possible about special abilities, interests, and experience.

  • Teaching Assistantships: To be eligible for an assistantship in technique (ballet or contemporary dance), the student must first successfully complete the apprenticeship program (see below).
  • Research Assistantships: These involve work in specialized areas such as costumes, publicity, production, etc. Applicants must demonstrate ability in their chosen area.
  • Apprenticeship Program: Candidates for apprenticeships must have achieved the most advanced level in the technique they wish to teach. Their work at this level will be assessed for at least one semester. During the same term, the candidate will observe a minimum of ten nonmajor technique classes and will teach three nonmajor classes, which faculty members will observe and assess. After successfully completing this apprenticeship, the student is eligible for consideration as a teaching assistant. Candidates designated as returning professionals by the graduate faculty are exempt from the apprenticeship requirement.

How to Apply for Aid: Download, complete and return the Graduate Apprenticeship Application.

For more information about graduate programs, contact:

Anjali Austin
Graduate Program Director
School of Dance
P.O. Box 3062120
Florida State University
Tallahassee FL 32306-2120
aaustin@fsu.edu