The dance department offers a wide range of courses for majors and nonmajors to study the art and science of human movement. An undergraduate major in dance is an excellent means of gaining in-depth knowledge of the art form and its related fields. Dance degree graduates become well-prepared dance artists/educators who go on to pursue dance professionally, or have careers in related occupations such as administration, health care, or business. Recent graduates have taught in K–12 and higher education, started their own companies, have operated their own studios, and danced with major dance companies throughout the U.S., including Urban Bush Women, Pat Graney, and Nikolais/Louis.

A dance degree at UW–Madison offers opportunities to:

  • Study with a world-class faculty with excellent teacher-student ratios
  • Rehearse and perform in state-of-the-art facilities
  • Experience an interdisciplinary, rigorous approach to dance studies. Courses draw on the biological, physical and social sciences as well as the humanities.
  • Earn a scholarship. Departmental awards for summer or honors study are also available.
  • Interact 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, and Tim Miller
  • Perform frequently
  • Pursue a double major in a second area of interest

The department offers two undergraduate degrees in dance. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) undergraduate degree program in dance is for students with a strong interest and aptitude in dance and/or professional dance theater. The Bachelor of Science–Dance degree was designed for students who wish to prepare for graduate work in theoretical areas of dance or who wish to combine their interest in dance with other fields of study.

The BFA requires a minimum of 85 major credits, including public presentations of original work, while the B.S. degree requires a minimum of 57 major credits. The differences in the major requirements highlight the differences between the two options: B.S. students can pursue other interests with their remaining credits, while BFA students are able to spend more time in the studio.  An audition to be a dance major is required and offered twice yearly, in November and February. Consult the department’s website for audition information,

The dance department also offers three certificates of study: a general dance certificate, a certificate in introductory studies in dance/movement therapy, and a Pilates certificate.

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 Education Academic Services (EAS), 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 at Education Academic Services. 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 Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.


Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with an 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.
  • Filing of all required paperwork, including the dance program application and any required transcripts.

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, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science 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–B.S. 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 VDANCE 312 Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory VIDANCE 411 Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory VII, or DANCE 412 Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory VIII. 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
Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory VII
Contemporary Dance Technique and Theory VIII
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 1 Workshop in Dance Activity or DANCE 560 Current Topics in Dance: Workshop. Jazz and Ballroom courses do not count toward this requirement.

DANCE 1 Workshop in Dance Activity (Hip Hop)1-2
DANCE 1 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
Workshop in Dance Activity (Yoga)
Workshop in Body Studies and Practices
Pilates Mat I
Pilates Mat II
Pilates Equipment Lab I
Pilates Equipment II
Pilates Equipment Lab III
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: Western Theatrical Dance from the Renaissance through the 1920s3
Design - Complete one of the following:3-4
Sound Design for the Performing and Visual Arts
Video Design for the Performing and Visual Arts
Introduction to Video, Performance & Installation Art
Artist's Video
Screen Performance
DANCE 355 Dance Composition II2
DANCE 365 Dance History II: Directions and Issues of Contemporary Dance3
Pedagogy - Complete one of the following:3
Teaching of Dance to Adults
Teaching Dance
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 225 Ballet Technique II. 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)

At UW–Madison, a DARS report is used to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree. This degree audit identifies the requirements that have already been completed, and also those that remain unsatisfied. A DARS report can offer suggestions about appropriate courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning process. 

Students can access DARS reports through their Student Center in My UW–Madison. Go to the Academics tab and find DARS on the dropdown menu.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program or major on campus. 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) should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. 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 the document of record, i.e., certifying document of degree completion, for program areas 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.
  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.

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 and the Course Guide 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–B.S. 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
ANAT&PHY 338 (also counts toward Liberal Studies Science requirement)2
 Complete one of the following:3
 DANCE 4521
 Quantitative Reasoning B3
 Liberal Studies course work0-3
 16 17
DANCE 311 or 4112DANCE 312 or 4121
DANCE 225 or 3252Additional Techniques1
Complete one, either this semester or previous spring 3-4Body Studies2
DANCE 4521
DANCE 4552
DANCE 4631
Liberal Studiies course work7
DANCE 4511 
DANCE 4623 
Additional Techniques1 
Liberal Studies course work6-9 
 18 15
Total Credits 132

Dance Department Advising

Each freshmen cohort is assigned a faculty advisor who works with the group until graduation. In their first year, all dance majors receive targeted advising from Karen McShane-Hellenbrand. Faculty advisors assist students in choosing classes, evaluating their degree path, and assessing their artistic and academic progress. Students undergo a yearly review with a faculty panel to assess the student’s progress in their degree program. Faculty advisors in the department include: Kate Corby, Andrea Harris, Li Chiao-Ping, Marlene Skog, Chris Walker and Jin-Wen Yu.

Advising in dance is handled through the dance department, 608-262-1691, 125 Lathrop Hall, 1050 University Avenue. Students also meet with Education Academic Services staff regarding other course requirements and concerns, see below.

General School of Education Advising

All undergraduate students in the School of Education are served by three offices devoted to academic and/or career advising. Each student in the School of Education is assigned at least one advisor and is encouraged to meet with the advisor on a regular basis. Students will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. Departmental advisors provide more in-depth knowledge of the major and of courses offered by the department.

Undergraduate Advising and Academic Dean's Office—Education Academic Services (EAS)

139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651

Education Academic Services (EAS) is the undergraduate dean's office for students in the School of Education. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; take exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise current and prospective students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate field placements; facilitate the program admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Students should meet with an advisor during their first semester on campus (if not before) and are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a semester. This is particularly important during the freshman and sophomore years. Appointments may be arranged by calling or visiting the office.

EAS advisors answer questions and provide guidance to current and prospective students. They consult with and refer students to faculty members and departmental advisors. Once a student is admitted to a professional program within the School of Education, he or she will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor. Advising then becomes a partnership, with EAS and OURR advisors continuing to help students with course selection, degree progress monitoring, academic difficulties, and interpretation of policies and procedures.

Program advisors help students select and plan a program of study in the major, negotiate issues within the department, and, in the case of certification programs, follow the students' progress through their professional courses. These divisions are flexible, and students are encouraged to consult with all advisors who can help with a situation or answer a question.

OURR: Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (Student Diversity Programs)

105 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-8427 or 608-262-1651

The UW–Madison School of Education is committed to promoting equity and increasing diversity in its programs. OURR staff work collaboratively with Education Academic Services and campus and community partners to support underrepresented students interested in majors in the School of Education.

OURR staff perform outreach, recruitment, and advising on behalf of the School. OURR staff also support current students with their personal and professional growth, their transition from high school to college, financial aid, and career exploration.  

OURR works to build a network of students and graduates who may strengthen, transform, and lead their communities through education, service, and other contributions. Students are invited to visit OURR staff at 105 Education Building—stop in, or call one of the numbers listed above to set up an appointment.

School of Education Career Center

L107 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1755

  • Exploring career options linked to School of Education majors
  • Seeking a major that fits you and helps you reach your career goals
  • Researching graduate schools and preparing application materials
  • Beginning your job search and not sure where to start
  • Want assistance with your résumé, cover letter, or interviewing skills
  • Want to connect with potential employers

The Career Center provides resources and individual consultations to assist you in reaching your career goals.  A plethora of resources can be found on the Career Center website

Explore career possibilities for specific majors in Career Exploration - Resources. This section of the website provides tools for clarifying your personal criteria for success, identifying specific career options linked to majors, identifying steps for career/major selection, and includes strategies for making the most of your academic and student experience.

  • Confirm your decisions. Gain hands-on experience in the career field you are pursuing. Assess the perceptions of your career and major options for accuracy and develop professional and soft skills.  The Career Exploration – Gain Experience and Evaluate website section provides strategies for gaining real-world experience.
  • Prepare to gain entry into the next phase of your career. Learn about graduate school requirements and the application process.  Develop your promotional materials for employers and graduate schools, and obtain feedback and suggestions for enhancing them. Visit the website sections Applying to Graduate School, Creating Application Materials, and Career and Job Link Resources for details.  
  • Implement your plans for your future. Investigate strategies for Conducting a Job Search. Attend Fairs & Events planned especially for you. Apply for graduate school acceptance or for job opportunities.  Practice and polish your Interviewing skills. Negotiate job and graduate school offers.

Personalized career assistance is available through individual appointments with consultants in the Career Center.  Schedule an appointment here.

Targeted career-related events and workshops are conducted each semester. 

The Career Center also coordinates teacher recruitment fairs each fall and spring semester and collaborates with career centers across campus to provide campus-wide career fairs at the beginning of each semester. 

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

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, final report forthcoming.