Rutgers University’s first MFA dance degree launches winter 2017

Degree to offer broad foundation in theory and practice

Applications opened in fall 2015 for a new MFA degree in dance. The 26-month program is set to launch in January 2017.

Dance faculty member Jeff Friedman, a dance artist with a doctorate degree in dance studies, will serve as director of the MFA program. Friedman describes the degree as designed for professional dance artists who are at least five years out from undergraduate school who wish to teach and research at the collegiate level. Friedman says the Mason Gross School’s Dance Department plans to enroll 10 MFA students annually, from around the world.

    Credit: Jaqlin Medlock. Choreography by LeeSaar The Company, Blood (2015)

Dance Department artistic director and chair Julia M. Ritter says she'd like students to emerge from the program with an approach to dance that is global and interdisciplinary. Ideally, graduates will contribute to the dance field as artists and dance educators worldwide.

To that end, Friedman says: “Dance faculty teach, and they conduct research and contribute to scholarly discourse. To do so, one must commit to rigorous thinking. Ideally, the degree will be a transformative experience.” Friedman says the 62-credit degree requires a year-and-a-half of coursework and eight months of thesis work (the latter may be completed on or off campus). The degree will train students in multiple aspects of dance studies: history, philosophy, and aesthetics; teaching methods and theories; and interdisciplinary choreography and performance strategies with faculty and guest artists from around the world. Electives in other art forms, the humanities, and additional disciplines are drawn from Rutgers University’s vast offerings. In addition, a pair of seminars will focus on portfolio preparation, leadership and advocacy, and launching graduating students into higher education.

Ultimately, the experience should be a rich mix of thinking and doing: linking theorizing and practicing, through researching, teaching and creating movement-based interdisciplinary works in concert dance, screen dance, installation, or other formats.

“The MFA will further establish our Dance Department as a conservatory that focuses not only on high-caliber training in dance technique and choreography but also as an institute dedicated to the development of highly trained dance researchers and educators,” says Kara Golden, director of admissions at the Mason Gross School. “Given our proximity to New York City, the new MFA degree program is ideal for any dance artist who has already established a professional career and is looking to enhance their artistry while developing the skills and experience required to teach their craft.”
Credit: Jaqlin Medlock. Choreography by LeeSaar The Company, Blood (2015)    

To enroll, applicants must submit a formal application and fee online through Rutgers University Graduate Admissions ( and the Mason Gross Supplemental application. Supporting material includes a personal statement, writing and video samples, a resume, and an audition.

For more information about the MFA in dance program, contact Mason Gross Admissions at 848-932-5269 or

Posted July 2015