The LEAP Degree

Students in the LEAP Program earn a Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts from Saint Mary's College of California. 

Degree Completion

Degree requirements for LEAP students are the same as those for traditional undergraduate students at the College. LEAP students must earn a minimum of 126 semester units with a minimum “C” average; students must take 10 courses in residence with Saint Mary’s College. The LEAP Program is comprised of three distinct areas in which students earn credit toward their degree. These three areas are detailed below. 

LEAP Core Curriculum (35 units)

Ten (10) liberal arts and performing arts major courses from Saint Mary's (3.5 units each)

The 10 LEAP core curriculum classes have been specifically chosen to model the liberal arts education of the traditional undergraduate program at Saint Mary's.  Designed and selected with the dancer's academic needs and interests in mind, these courses challenge, inspire, and equip professional dancers for lifelong learning and success. 

  • SEM 102: Western Tradition
  • ENGL 005: Argument and Research
  • MATH 010: The Art and Practice of Math
  • SEM 104: Global Conversation of the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • BIOL 080: Human Biology
  • ANTH 001: Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • LEAP 100: Personal and Professional Assessment
  • TRS 189: The Bible and Its Interpretation: Wealth, Poverty and Economic Justice
  • PERFA 184: Dance in Performance
  • PERFA 198: Senior Capstone Project

Additional Courses for the Major (35 units)

Ten additional courses for the performing arts major (3.5 units each)

In addition to the core courses PERFA 198: Senior Capstone Project and PERFA 184: Dance in Performance, LEAP students also complete 10 courses for the Performing Arts major (3.5 units each). 

  • PERFA 194: Dance in Production (3 courses)
  • PERFA 170/175/176/177: Applied Dance (such as Advance Ballet, Choreography, etc., 3 courses)
  • PERFA 182: Dance History I
  • PERFA 183: Dance History II
  • PERFA 115: Music in Performance
  • PERFA 033: Principles of Performance

Challenge-by-Examination: Opportunities for students to demonstrate the knowledge that they have acquired through their professional careers. 

Students entering the LEAP program are qualified to challenge by examination a number of the required dance and performing arts courses for the major at SMC. This significantly reduces the amount of time needed to earn the Bachelor's degree and frees students to pursue their individualized courses of study. Students may opt to attend preparation workshops offered by the program before they challenge courses in dance history, music, and theatre. The process to challenge the dance and performing arts courses is accomplished remotely by the students, primarily by submission of evidence of professional performance experience and satisfactory completion of examinations. 

General Education (at least 56 units)

LEAP creates an individualized course of study for each student to satisfy general education and unit requirements for the degree, and to prepare students for their chosen new careers or graduate school.

To fulfill general education requirements, students can:

  • Transfer in credit from previous college course work, and/or test out of specific courses through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
  • Take lower/upper division courses at an accredited community or state college concurrently with your LEAP coursework 
  • Take independent study or LEAP/other elective courses at Saint Mary's.
  • Submit materials for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Transfer Coursework (at least 26 units)

Students are required to take at least 26 units of outside coursework. Courses acceptable for transfer credit must have been taken at a regionally accredited institution of higher education; must have earned a C- or better; if taken at a California community college, must be transferable to the University of California System. LEAP students often enroll in courses at other accredited institutions while concurrently enrolled in the LEAP core courses. Some students enroll in additional courses at Saint Mary's, often as independent study, to fulfill elective/general education requirements. 

Prior Learning Assessment (up to 30 units)

In the context of the exploration of theories of adult development and experiential learning, during the LEAP 100: Personal & Professional Assessment course, students develop an experiential learning portfolio. The portfolio is a collection of essays and supporting documentation that may be further evaluated for elective academic credit toward the degree. Four of the essays are written during the LEAP 100 course, with advising from coordinators and guidance from the faculty on what essay subjects may be most beneficial for each student. Students may continue to submit essays throughout the program. Students may also earn elective credit from the evaluation of certificated coursework.