MFA in Dance


A Multidisciplinary MFA in Dance Degree That Works With Your Schedule

Saint Mary's College of California is proud to offer our MFA in Dance degree in Creative Practice. Our program requires 60 units of course work and takes approximately 2 years to complete, with cohorts beginning each year with a 4-week in-person intensive in June. To accommodate the personal and professional commitments of our students, we occasionally allow students to enter the program in other terms—however, this may change the time required to complete the program.

The MFA in Dance at Saint Mary's uses a low-residency model that favors working adults and highly motivated professionals seeking to sustain their portfolio as they develop their professional careers. With this in mind, we schedule the majority of our practical and performance courses during the June and January intensives.

Dancer with confetti falling on stage

MFA in Dance: Creative Practice

MFA in Dance: Creative Practice degree is a 60-unit plan of study emphasizing four areas: Choreography and Movement Courses, Theoretical Studies, Somatic Studies, and Design and Production for Dance

A Flexible Low-Residency Program

Three dances against a red background the one in the center is wearing a white button down shirt and is looking up at her raised hand

Our Program Structure

Our program formally begins every year in June Term with a four week, in-person intensive at Saint Mary's campus.

The Fall term follows with synchronous online courses offered on Mondays from 4:30-6:30pm PST and/or once a month on Saturdays from 11am-2pm PST.

The January Term intensive begins on SMC's campus during the first two weeks of January and is followed by two weeks of asynchronous classes online. 

Spring Semester then follows the same model as Fall. This schedule is repeated for the second year and culminates with a final, in-person June Term thesis presentation in the students third Summer. 

Learn more by playing the video to the left.

Two female dancers back-to-back on stage

June Term: Our Four-Week Intensive

Saint Mary's four-week intensive in June emphasizes in-person instruction, performances, and community connection within our MFA cohorts. Additionally, for students completing the program, June Term is their opportunity to polish and perform a final thesis presentation.

Mission of the Graduate Dance Program

The mission of the graduate program in dance is to provide a unique model that capitalizes on the richness and diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area dance community. Through the lens of a liberal arts curriculum, the MFA degree will educate the whole dance artist, concentrating on four areas of focus: Theoretical, Somatics, Creative Practice and Production. The nature of the program is student-centered, building on peer collaboration, faculty mentoring, and student-driven projects.

The values of our program are shaped around the quest for truth, the authenticity of living, and the building of a community where sensitivity, social justice, and global awareness are at the core. Dance artists are the newest members of the global arena--imitating, creating, and challenging what society has to offer.  The graduate programs in dance seek to foster self-discovery and promote an understanding of dance as a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary practice in which the body of the performer(s), the movement of the choreographer(s), the scenery, the costumes, and the lighting create a cohesive world for dance.

Photo of Rogelio Lopez, Instructor/Program Director midair teaching

January Dance Intensive

In addition to honing dance skills, the January Dance intensive affords the  students an opportunity to bond as a cohort. This is essential to foster cooperation and mutual support that facilitates success in the online asynchronous classes.

MFA in Dance Program Goals

  • To develop artists who are critically aware of the reciprocity of theory and practice, thereby promoting standards of excellence in dance practice and preparing for them for employment.
  • To enable artists to explore and reflect upon dance practice in its many forms, taking into account the social, cultural, aesthetic and political contexts in which performance practice is located.
  • To address complex issues creatively and systematically as well as develop the ability to problem-solve in a variety of artistic contexts through the engagement in practice-based research, including collaborative projects.
  • To develop one's potential for a range of practices in or associated with dance and research-based activity.
  • To enhance one's production experience and create dance artists who are capable of managing a business.


School and Department Information

Rosana Barragán
Program Director, Graduate Programs in Dance

Collin Skeen
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment