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:

LEAP Core Curriculum (35 units)

The 10 LEAP core curriculum classes have been specifically chosen to model the liberal arts education of the traditional undergraduate program at SMC (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 Performing Arts major offered at Saint Mary's. This allows student the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they have already acquired through their professional careers in the Performing Arts.

Prior Learning Assessment (up to 30 units)

During the "LEAP 100: Personal & Professional Assessment" course you'll write four essays demonstrating learning based on prior experience. Some or all of your essays will be evaluated for upper division credit. We'll counsel you on this, and on what essay subjects will be of most benefit to you, when the time comes. You can continue to write additional essays throughout the program and/or after you've finished your core curriculum courses. You may also seek evaluation of certifications for academic credit. You can earn a maximum of 30 units of elective credit through Prior Learning Assessment.

Transfer Coursework/General Ed (at least 26 units)

Students are required to take at least 26 units of outside coursework. Prior college coursework will be evaluated for credit in this section. Alternatively, students can enroll in online courses in different fields of study of their choosing, or enroll in community college classes and transfer those units in to SMC.

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.
  • Take LEAP electives, online courses, or additional coursework through 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. Students typically enroll with a part time student status and take one full-credit course and challenge one major course per term, which typically allows them to complete all 10 core courses and all 10 courses for the major (70 units) in 3 1⁄2 years.  Depending on their individualized plan of study, students may take additional terms to complete the remaining 56 units, through transfer credit and/or prior learning assessment credit, and meet the degree requirements.