Students pursuing a BFA in dance gain in-depth knowledge of dance as an art form and an area of scholarly inquiry. The degree prepares students for careers in professional dance and provides a foundation for teaching in K-12 and higher education, dance entrepreneurship, dance/movement therapy, Pilates, the health and fitness industry, arts administration, as well as many other fields. 

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance requires a minimum of 85 major credits and is designed for students who wish to spend more time preparing for a professional career in dance.  

A dance degree at UW–Madison offers opportunities to:

  • Study with a world-class faculty, with excellent teacher-student ratios.
  • Perform frequently in faculty and student-choreographed works, in state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Experience an interdisciplinary approach that connects dance to the arts and humanities, as well as the social, biological, physical, and biological social sciences.
  • Earn scholarship and award funding for study in the academic year and summer, including departmental awards for honors study. 
  • Work with nationally and internationally renowned guest artists and master class instructors, such as the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Pilobolus, Meredith Monk, Elizabeth Streb, David Parsons, Sean Curran, Danielle Russo, Carrie Hanson, Joe Goode, Susan Marshall, Kun-Yang Lin, and Tim Miller, Abdel Salaam/Forces of Nature.
  • Train intensively in choreography to create solo and group works for performance.

An audition is required to declare a dance degree. Auditions are held in November and February. 

The Dance Department also offers five certificates: a general certificate in Dance, a certificate in Dance Education, one in Dance Studies, a certificate in Dance/Movement Therapy, and another certificate in Pilates.

How to Get In

Program Admission Overview

All students wishing to major in dance must complete a performance audition to be admitted to the program. Consult the Dance department website for more detailed information about the audition process.

Entering the School of Education

New and Current UW–Madison Students

On-campus students wishing to be admitted to one of the dance program options must audition and also have earned a minimum 2.5 grade point average. On-campus students should obtain and submit a signed Professional Program Application, to the School of Education Student Services office, Room 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, at any time during the academic year. The application must be signed by the appropriate dance department advisor.

Prospective Transfer Students

Applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the university to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information.

Prospective transfer students should meet as early as possible with a dance department advisor and with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office. Coursework taken at another institution may need to be evaluated by a faculty or staff member in dance. Transfer students must audition to be admitted to one of the dance program options. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Students with a previous degree

Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with a School of Education advisor in advance of their application. Consultations with advisors are available in person or via telephone; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a second degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. Admission as an Education Special student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework. Second degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.

Admission and Application

Criteria for Admission

Requirements and selection criteria may be modified from one application/admission period to the next. Eligibility for consideration:

  • The dance department currently admits students to its programs only through a performance audition.
  • Cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.50 (on a 4.00 scale).1
  • On-campus transfer students must have a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.5 on the UW–Madison campus, as modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • Submission of all required application materials, including the dance program application and any required transcripts.

 A comprehensive cumulative GPA of all college-level, transferrable coursework attempted on both the UW–Madison campus coursework and coursework taken at any other colleges or universities may be calculated for the exclusive purpose of establishing an applicant’s eligibility for consideration. Both the comprehensive cumulative GPA and the comprehensive cumulative GPA based on a student’s last 60 credits may be calculated. See Last 60 Credits Rule (detailed below). If admitted, students must earn the minimum cumulative GPA for UW–Madison coursework established by their program and the School of Education each semester after admission.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility to programs. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eligibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) More information on this rule is available here.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs and Kinesiology have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Program Structure

The BFA degree in Dance has four components:

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Discipline-related coursework provides an interdisciplinary foundation contributing to the performance and understanding of this art form.
  • Major requirements offer an in-depth study of dance.
  • Elective credits allow students to pursue areas of interest and complete the minimum number of credits required for the degree.

Discipline-Related Requirements

DANCE 200 Writing the Moving Body3
DANCE 560 Current Topics in Dance: Workshop (Anatomy for Dancers)2
or ANAT&PHY 338 Human Anatomy Laboratory

Major Requirements

Complete a minimum of 85 credits. At least 15 upper-level major Dance credits (numbered 300 and above) must be taken in residence on the UW–Madison campus.

New first-year Dance–BS and BFA students should expect to register for three 100-level foundational major courses: DANCE 111 Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory I, 5 credits, DANCE 125 Ballet Technique I, and DANCE 162 First Year Workshop for a total of 11 credits. These courses are taken by all dance majors in their first year, regardless of previous dance training and experience. The classes prepare students for advanced study in dance and movement technique. Dance majors are assured enrollment in these courses.  DANCE 165 World Dance Cultures: Traditional to Contemporary is also strongly recommended for the first semester; this course will meet the Global Perspectives requirement in liberal studies.

Dance Technique and Theory

Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory

Select a minimum of 18 credits from the following; at least 9 credits must be from DANCE 311 Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory V or DANCE 312 Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory VI . Note: 100- and 200-level technique classes must be taken for 3 credits; 300 and 400 level may be taken for 2 credits.

Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory I
Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory II
Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory III
Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory IV
Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory V
Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory VI
Ballet Technique

Select a minimum of 14 credits from the following; 10 must be numbered 225 or higher:

Ballet Technique I
Ballet Technique I-B
Ballet Technique II
Ballet Technique II-B
Ballet Technique III
Ballet Technique III-B

Additional Techniques

Select a minimum of 6 credits of the following. Students may also select from Additional Techniques workshops listed under DANCE 110 Workshop in Dance Activity or DANCE 560 Current Topics in Dance: Workshop. Jazz and Ballroom courses do not count toward this requirement.

DANCE 110 Workshop in Dance Activity (Hip Hop)1-2
DANCE 110 Workshop in Dance Activity (Tai Ji)1-2
DANCE 116 Workshop in World Dance2
DANCE 118 African Dance1
DANCE/​ASIAN AM  121 Asian American Movement3
DANCE/​THEATRE  218 African Dance Performance2
DANCE/​AFROAMER/​MUSIC  318 Cultural Cross Currents: West African Dance/Music in the Americas3
DANCE/​FOLKLORE/​THEATRE  321 Javanese Performance2
DANCE/​FOLKLORE/​THEATRE  421 Javanese Performance Repertory2

Body Studies

DANCE 131 Somatic Theory and Practices2
Select 4 credits of the following:4
DANCE 110 Workshop in Dance Activity (Yoga)1-2
Workshop in Body Studies and Practices
Pilates Mat I
Pilates Mat II
Pilates Equipment I
Pilates Equipment II
New Movement Techniques

Critical and Creative Investigations

DANCE 140 Dance Production2
MUSIC 151 Basic Concepts of Music Theory3
DANCE 156 Movement as Material Through Improvisation2
DANCE 157 Introduction to Movement Analysis2
DANCE 162 First Year Workshop1
DANCE 241 Music Fundamentals for Dancers3
DANCE 255 Movement Composition for the Performing and Visual Arts2
DANCE 265 Dance History I: Dance in the Modern Era3
Design - Complete one of the following:3-4
Sound Design for the Performing and Visual Arts
Video Design for the Performing and Visual Arts
ART 318
Introduction to Video, Performance & Installation Art
ART 518
Artist's Video
ART 531
Screen Performance
DANCE 355 Dance Composition II2
DANCE 365 Dance History II: Directions and Issues of Contemporary Dance3
DANCE 374 Teaching Dance3
Dance Repertory Theater - Complete 6 credits from the following:6
Dance Repertory Theater
Dance Repertory Theater
DANCE 455 Dance Composition III2
DANCE 462 Senior Seminar3
DANCE 463 Senior Project1-2

Public Presentations

BFA students must create one solo and one group piece (trio or larger) after the completion of DANCE 255 Movement Composition for the Performing and Visual Arts. These works must be submitted for faculty approval and publicly presented in concert. Senior projects must be presented in an approved public forum.

Elective Credits

Complete additional coursework, if necessary, to reach the minimum of 125 credits. DANCE 165 World Dance Cultures: Traditional to Contemporary is recommended and will meet the Global Perspectives requirement in liberal studies.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Requirements are based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.75 minimum cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average in all major coursework
  • 2.50 cumulative grade point average in all upper-level major coursework. Dance courses numbered 300 and above are considered to be upper-level courses.
  • Major Residency. Students must complete a minimum of 15 upper-level major credits on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior Residency. Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, excluding retroactive credits and credits granted by examination.
  • A minimum of 125 credits are required for graduation.

Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS)

UW–Madison uses “DARS” to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree, including any additional majors and certificates. A DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows all the requirements for completing a degree and, against courses that are planned or completed, shows the requirements that have been met, and those that are unmet. A report can offer suggestions about courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning and enrollment process. Students can access a DARS report in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program, major, or certificate. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE) or Pre-Kinesiology should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

More information on how to request a DARS report is available on the Office of the Registrar’s website.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisors. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is used as the document of record for degree program, major, and certificate completion in the School of Education.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. (Body Studies and Dance Technique) Demonstration of proficiency in the physical practice of dance.
  2. (Writing and Critical Thinking) Examination of global approaches in dance, in historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts.
  3. (Making and Sharing Dances) Utilization of tools of craft to engage in critical and creative investigations and assessment.

Four-Year Plan

Dance: Bachelor of Fine Arts – Sample Four Year Plan

This sample four-year graduation plan is designed to guide your course selection throughout your academic career; it does not establish a contractual agreement. Your actual course of study will be influenced by factors such as when you are eligible to enroll in 200 and 300-level technique classes, casting decisions, and summer course selections. Use this plan along with your DARS report, the Guide, and the Course Search and Enroll app to create a sequence of classes that also reflect your placement scores, incoming credits, and individual interests. Consult with an academic advisor to develop this personalized plan of study and refer to the Guide for a complete list of requirements. You will likely revise your plan several times during your academic career here, based on your activities and changing academic interests.

New first-year Dance–BS and BFA students should expect to register for three 100-level foundational major courses: DANCE 111 Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory I, 5 credits, DANCE 125 Ballet Technique I, and DANCE 162 First Year Workshop. These courses are taken by all dance majors in their first year, regardless of previous dance training and experience. The classes prepare students for advanced study in dance and movement technique.

This degree requires a minimum of 125 credits, although additional contemporary dance technique and theory courses are strongly recommended. This plan includes 7 credits beyond the minimum requirement in this area. BFA Dance students must create one Solo and one Group piece (trio or larger) after completion of 255. These works must be faculty approved for public presentation.

DANCE 111 (meets M,W,F)3Communication A3
DANCE 111 (meets T, R)2DANCE 1123
DANCE 1252DANCE 1122
DANCE 1621DANCE 1262
DANCE 165 (also meets Liberal Studies Global Perspectives requirement)3DANCE 1562
Liberal Studies course work (U.S. or European History recommended)4DANCE 1572
 Quantitative Reasoning A3
 15 17
DANCE 2113DANCE 2123
DANCE 225 or 3252DANCE 226 or 3262
DANCE 200 (also meets Liberal Studies and Communication B)3Additional Techniques1
DANCE 2552DANCE 1312
DANCE 2653DANCE 1402
DANCE 4511DANCE 3653
Ethnic Studies (not from Dance) or other Liberal Studies course work13DANCE 4521
 MUSIC 151 (prereq for Dance 241)3
 17 17
DANCE 3113DANCE 3123
DANCE 225 or 3252DANCE 226 or 3262
DANCE 2413Additional Techniques2
DANCE 3552Complete one, either this semester or next fall3-4
DANCE 4511
Additional Techniques1
Body Studies2
ART 318
ANAT&PHY 338 (also counts toward Liberal Studies Science requirement)2
ART 518
ART 531
 DANCE 3743
 DANCE 4521
 Quantitative Reasoning B3
 Liberal Studies course work0-3
 16 17
DANCE 3112DANCE 3121
DANCE 225 or 3252Additional Techniques1
Complete one, either this semester or previous spring 3-4Body Studies2
DANCE 4521
DANCE 4552
ART 318
DANCE 4631
ART 518
Liberal Studiies course work7
ART 531
DANCE 4511 
DANCE 4623 
Additional Techniques1 
Liberal Studies course work6-9 
 18 15
Total Credits 132

Some Dance department courses meet both the ethnic studies and additional techniques requirements. If this option is selected, a three-credit liberal studies course must be completed this semester.

Advising and Careers

Dance Department Advising

All dance degree students receive targeted advising through the department's undergraduate advisor, Karen McShane-Hellenbrand. Dance Department advising is designed to assist students in choosing classes and evaluating their degree path. This is particularly critical for students pursuing a dance degree and an additional degree program or major.

Students may also meet with advisors in the School of Education Student Services office regarding other course requirements and concerns, see below. Current students can schedule an appointment with a School of Education advisor online through the Starfish app in MyUW. 

School of Education Advising

Academic Advising in the School of Education

Dedicated to supporting and promoting student success, academic advisors are here to assist students with the adjustment to college, understanding their degree and career goals, and connecting them to resources. Advisors support prospective and current School of Education students in all programs through:

  • Course selection
  • Mentoring and advocacy for underrepresented and international students
  • Understanding degree requirements and progression
  • Interpreting academic policies
  • Helping students recognize their strengths and suggesting ways to expand their skills
  • Expanding learning through activities such as study abroad, volunteering/work/internship, and by assuming leadership roles

To schedule an appointment: Current students can schedule an appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW. Appointments can also be made through email at, by calling 608-262-1651, or in person.

Career Advising in the School of Education

Through individual appointments, events, courses, and online resources, the Career Center provides students and alumni with the tools needed to be successful in their career development.

Career and Internship Advisors are prepared to help students with:

  • Exploration of career and academic pathways
  • Resumes
  • Cover letters
  • Job/Internship search
  • Interview preparation
  • Mock interviews
  • Graduate school search, applications and decisions
  • Negotiating job or internship offers
  • Professional networking
  • Connecting with employers

Students are encouraged to meet with their Career and Internship Advisor early in their college experience to take full advantage of the resources and support available.

To make an appointment: log into Starfish from the MyUW dashboard.

For more information, visit the School of Education Career Center website or reach out at

Potential careers for Dance majors include: professional dance, production, dance education in K-12 and higher education, dance entrepreneurship, and dance/movement therapy. Our graduates also work in the health and fitness industry, Pilates, arts administration, dance advocacy, as well as many other fields.

Students develop important skills that employers look for including:

  • Diverse forms of communication, personal expression and connection
  • Collaboration
  • Creative problem solving/critical thinking
  • Adaptability, versatility, and improvisation
  • Resilience; ability to receive and provide feedback
  • Discipline and accountability

Applied experiences, including paid internships, apprenticeship programs, career treks, and professional networking events, are available to UW Dance students.


Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Dance can be found on the department's website.

Resources and Scholarships

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.


National Association of Schools of Dance

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2018-2019, site visit postponed until Spring 2024 due to COVID-19, final report forthcoming in Fall 2024.