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What Are the Different Types of Dance Degree Programs?

Dance degree programs vary widely, offering specializations in areas like performance, choreography, dance education, and dance therapy. Each program equips students with unique skills, from stage presence to teaching methods. Which dance degree program aligns best with your career aspirations in the world of dance?
Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett

There are several different types of dance degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Some of these degree programs emphasize dance performance, but it is also possible to study dance from a purely academic or analytical standpoint. While many choreographers are also dancers, a degree in choreography is usually different from a degree in performance. Dance can also be combined with other disciplines, such as theater or anthropology, to create interesting dual majors that can lead to unique career opportunities.

One of the most common types of dance degree programs is a bachelor's degree in dance. A bachelor of arts in this subject must include liberal arts topics and the completion of the academic subjects required of all BA holders. On the other hand, a bachelor of fine arts focuses more exclusively on dance and may involve nearly all practice and technique classes. Some schools differentiate between these two types of degrees, and some offer only one or the other.

Some schools might offer ballet specialties.
Some schools might offer ballet specialties.

Graduate dance degree programs are often more focused on creating professionals in this field. For example, a master's degree in dance could teach individuals how to become dance teachers. Many dance degree programs of this type focus on individuals who are already established dancers but need verification of their skills or education to advance to the next level. Most graduate programs do not teach dance techniques.

Some dance degree programs may specialize in contemporary dance.
Some dance degree programs may specialize in contemporary dance.

A Ph.D. in dance can be achieved, but is typically not necessary for working professionals. This type of degree usually focuses on the history of dance or the philosophical ideas underlying movement. Often, dance degrees are combined with degrees concerning theater due to the close association of these two types of art. The focus of a Ph.D. in dance depends on the interests of the individual, though different schools come from different philosophical backgrounds.

In addition to the degrees available from universities, there are many certificate programs available in this subject as well as awards related to completing certain levels of coursework at dance schools. It is not uncommon for dancers to forgo a college degree in favor of performance, as the age at which many types of dancers can be successful is very young and a degree is thought to interfere with a dancer's career. Even so, the academic study of dance takes many forms, and different programs may focus on different types of dance. While some dance degree programs might have ballet as a specialty, others focus primarily on contemporary dance. As such, it is important to investigate not only the degree levels but also the actual courses taught at the school.

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    • Some schools might offer ballet specialties.
      By: Aleksandr Doodko
      Some schools might offer ballet specialties.
    • Some dance degree programs may specialize in contemporary dance.
      By: nanettegrebe
      Some dance degree programs may specialize in contemporary dance.