MFA Dance students rehearsing

MFA in Dance

Montclair State University’s low-residency MFA in Dance program is designed for dance professionals who want to further their careers and actively help shape the world of dance.

See more about the MFA in Dance

We will begin accepting applications in the Fall of 2025 for the cohort that will begin in June 2026. Priority application deadline is Dec. 10, 2025, but if space permits, we will continue to accept applications through March 1, 2025.

Please email Dr. Elizabeth McPherson ( if you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive updates.

Apply Now

Here is what one of our MFA Dance alums has to say about the program:

“Guided by supportive and erudite professors, I gained a rich understanding of the expansive scope of the field as I both acquired new skills and pursued an existing area of expertise. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and am thrilled by the body of work I have crafted.” – Lauren Grant

MFA Dance: The Big Picture
MFA Dance Students stretching

Montclair State University’s new, innovative low-residency MFA in Dance is designed especially for mid-career dance artists, dance teachers and other dance professionals in transition.

The program is ideal for those interested in thinking about the shape and future of dance as a discipline and as a field.

Appealing to your needs as an experienced dance professional, the program aims to provide you with the knowledge, resources and credentials you need to expand your career — whether to teach dance in higher education, enhance your artistic worldview, and/or become an innovative leader, researcher or advocate for dance.

The program is especially unique in regards to its low-residency format, allowing much of the work to be done online. As a working artist, you will experience the convenience of an on-site/off-site program structure without sacrificing the potential of developing lifelong relationships.

The Low-Residency Structure

The MFA in Dance takes two years to complete. You will begin your studies on the beautiful Montclair State University campus in the summer, taking classes which span a four-week period. In the following fall and spring semesters you will pursue courses online, then return to campus again, the next summer, for a second four-week on-site experience. During the subsequent fall and spring semesters you will take your remaining classes online and complete your degree.

Summer sessions coursework includes opportunities to move, create, discuss, research, document, connect, and examine your practice. All courses are “in person,” allowing students to develop close relationships with both peers and faculty.

Fall and spring semester online sessions allow students to return to their homes where they may continue their lives while still pursuing their degree. Online coursework will use reading, writing and reflection to allow students to engage in analysis and discussion about the dance field. In their home communities, students will be expected to observe or participate in dance classes, view live performance and produce their own creative works.

Two-Year Cohorts

The MFA in Dance allows you the opportunity to study with a cohort of peers with whom you will begin, pursue and complete the curriculum. Admission to the program is conducted every two years. Students are expected to matriculate with their cohort, taking each course in the sequence together. This structure enables students to develop close ties with their faculty and peers, and to have strong support networks as they move through their coursework.

Ideal for Mid-Career Artists

The MFA in Dance is ideally suited for mid-career dance artists, i.e. people who have been active in the dance field for at least five years since completing their undergraduate degrees. Many are working dance professionals who wish to transition to teaching or who already teach but desire a terminal degree which is often required to teach in higher education. The MFA in Dance gives access to expanded career opportunities and ways to leverage innovation in the arts.


The program is focused on students who are interested in a terminal degree program that emphasizes a practice-based curriculum designed to nurture the artist in the development of new knowledge and skills in one or more aspects of performance or choreography, including technology and application of somatic techniques to art-making. The program provides the knowledge and credentials needed to apply for work at universities, thus giving students the resources to become innovative contributors to their fields.


  • Enhance aspects of dance performance or choreography with the acquisition of new knowledge and/or skills.
  • Encourage students to become conversant in new digital media technologies and their impact on art-making.
  • Foster students’ development of their own areas of interest and specialization to create a unique artistic voice in the dance field.
  • Nurture pedagogic ingenuity by encouraging mid-career artists to engage in deep self-reflection and develop their choreographic and teaching practice.
  • Prepare leaders who will contribute to shaping the future of dance through the development of their creative voice and by engaging in the ongoing theoretical discussions surrounding the field.
What You Will Study

The MFA in Dance curriculum includes three main components:

  • Studio and related courses will deepen your creative research practice through examination and enhancement of your artistic skills. You will develop an investigated understanding of the kinesthetic, digital, technical and aesthetic components of your personal artistic interests.
  • Other studies in dance will serve to expand your analytical skills, self-reflection and understanding of theoretical constructs in dance studies, history, pedagogy and theory. You will communicate this understanding in both verbal and written form.
  • Elective Courses (three independently-pursued research courses) will offer the opportunity to develop or enhance a unique specialization and/or perspective related to dance.
MFA Dance Students engaged in exercises

Two year course of study:

First Year

Summer Semester (in-person) HRS
Special Topics: Dance Technique 3
Improvisation 3
Creative Practices I 3
Dance Technology 3
Fall Semester (online) HRS
Special Projects 3
Portraiture Methodology: An Embodied Way of Writing. 3
Research, Writing, and Publication 3
Spring Semester (online) HRS
Special Projects 3
Creative Practices II 3
Performance Perspectives 3

Second Year

Summer Semester (in-person) HRS
Special Topics: Dance Technique 3
Application of Digital Media 3
Laban Movement Analysis and its Applications 3
Functional Anatomy 3
Fall Semester (online) HRS
Dance in the United States 3
Business of Academia 3
Special Projects 3
Spring Semester (online) HRS
Survey of Pedagogical Perspectives 3
Thesis Project 6


A. Studio or Related Areas
DNCE500 Contemporary Dance Practices 3 units (taken 2x)
DNCE501 Improvisation 3 units
DNCE502 Creative Practices I 3 units
DNCE503 Creative Practices II 3 units
DNCE531 LMA and its Applications 3 units
DNCE533 Functional Anatomy 3 units
DNCE698 Thesis Project 6 units
DNCE520 Dance Technology 3 units
DNCE521 Application of Digital Media 3 units
Total Studio or Related Areas 33 units
B. Other Studies in Dance
DNCE510 Performance Perspectives 3 units
DNCE511 Research, Writing, and Publication 3 units
DNCE512 Dance in the United States 3 units
DNCE513 Portraiture Methodology: An Embodied Way of Writing. 3 units
DNCE530 Survey of Pedagogical Practice 3 units
DNCE532 Business of Academia 3 units
Total Studies in Dance 18 units
C. Electives
DNCE 509 Special Projects 3 units (taken 3x)
Total Electives 9 units
Dance Major (MFA) – Full Curriculum
Our Faculty
Claire Porter Advises in class

The faculty in the Dance Division at Montclair State University are expert mentors in dance technique, improvisation, choreography, dance studies and critique, dance technology, Laban Movement Analysis and pedagogy. In addition, our proximity to New York City allows us to bring in exceptional artists like Claire Porter to teach courses in the program. Previously scheduled artists include Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Dr. Martha Eddy, and Dr. Penelope Hanstein.

MFA in Dance – Faculty

How to Apply

For more information about the requirements, processes, and deadlines, visit:

Applying to the MFA in Dance
Apply Now
MFA Dance Students observing demonstration

We are accepting applications in the Fall 2023 for a start date of June 2024. Priority application deadline is Dec. 10, 2023, but if space permits, we will continue to accept applications through March 30, 2024.

Students interested in applying to the MFA in Dance must submit an application to The Graduate School.

For Further Information

For more information, please contact Dr. Elizabeth McPherson at 973-655-7831 or

We also welcome you to complete the request information form.

Program Coordinator, MFA Dance

Elizabeth McPherson profile photo

Elizabeth McPherson

Professor, Theatre and Dance