The LEAP Bachelor of Arts Degree: Curriculum and Requirements

The LEAP Program offers a Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts from Saint Mary’s College. An individualized course of study is created so each student's personal academic goals and new career objectives can be reached. 

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; LEAP students must fulfill Core Curriculum requirements with the following exceptions: one Theological Understanding course (Christian Foundations); exempt from the lab requirement for Scientific Understanding; and exempt from the Foreign Language and Jan Term requirements.

The LEAP program is comprised of four distinct areas in which students earn credit toward their degree while in the program:

1. LEAP Core Curriculum: 10 liberal arts courses (3.5 units each) from Saint Mary's College (35 units total)

2. Courses for the Major: 10 courses in the Performing Arts (3.5 units each), for which  LEAP students are eligible to challenge by examination, based on their professional experience (35 units total)

3. Prior Learning Assessment: Students complete the Personal and Professional

Assessment course as part of their Core, and develop an Experiential Learning Portfolio - a collection of essays and supporting documentation that may be further evaluated for academic credit toward the degree (up to 30 units)

4. Transfer Courses/Certificated Coursework: Students may transfer courses from other accredited regionally accredited institutions of higher education to earn credit toward their degree. Similarly, students may submit professional certifications for evaluation as academic credit, which convert to semester units (minimum 26 units, maximum 64 units).

Students work with the LEAP Program Coordinator in their location to track their progress throughout their time in the program. 

Click here to take a look at what a typical Course of Study guide looks like for a current LEAP student: Course of Study



Degree Requirements


LEAP Core Curriculum (35 units)

All LEAP students are required to take ten liberal arts courses from Saint Mary's (see Core Curriculum).  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.

Courses for the Major (up to 35 units)

Students entering the LEAP program are qualified to challenge by examination (or "test out of") several of the required performing arts courses for the Dance Major offered at Saint Mary's. This significantly reduces the amount of time and money needed to earn the Bachelor's Degree and frees students to pursue their individualized courses of study.

Prior Learning Assessment (up to 30 units)

To further acknowledge the experience and expertise of the LEAP adult learner, through the Personal and Professional Assessment core curriculum course, each student will have the opportunity to write Experiential Learning Papers that may be further evaluated for tuition-free academic credit toward their degree.

Transfer and Certificated Coursework (at least 26 units)

To fulfill these requirements, students may:

  • Transfer in credit from previous college course work.
  • Test out of certain courses through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
  • Take lower/upper division courses at an accredited community or state college.
  • Earn course credit through experiential learning (see Prior Learning Assessment above).
  • Earn credit from certificated coursework (including previously earned certifications such as Yoga or Massage Therapy).
  • Take LEAP electives, on-line courses, or additional on-campus coursework at Saint Mary's College.


Degree Completion

In order to be awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary's College, a student will:

  1. Complete the 10-course LEAP Core Curriculum.
  2. Complete course requirements for the major.
  3. Fulfill core curriculum requirements.
  4. Attain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0.
  5. Complete 126 semester units of credit 



The LEAP Core Curriculum is structured in a three-term semester format (Summer, Fall and Spring). This allows for a part-time but year-round course of study. Within each term, the

program also offers workshops to support students as they prepare for  challenge-by-examination courses, which allow them the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they have already acquired through their professional careers in the Performing Arts. Students typically enroll with a part time student status and take one full-credit course and one challenge-by-exam course per term, which typically allows them to complete all 10 core courses and all 10 courses for the major in 3 1⁄2 years.