Theatre and Dance, MA

College of Fine Arts

Program Description:

  • Concentrations: Dance History and Criticism; Dramatic Writing; Theatre Education and Outreach.

The Department of Theatre and Dance offers the Master of Arts in Theatre and Dance (M.A.) for the student preparing for teaching, practice, or further graduate study. In general, the focus of the program is the creation of new works of theatre and dance for stage and classroom, and development of research skills.

Required Courses

The purpose of the required courses for the Master of Arts degree is to provide a common conceptual framework for all graduate students in the program. The required courses aim to strengthen critical and practical skills that support and guide students' direction and concentration in the remainder of the program and beyond.

DANC 500
THEA 500
Introduction to Graduate Study

Introduction to Graduate Studies
THEA 503Performance Theory3
THEA 506Critical Issues in the Performing Arts3

Concentration Requirements

Dance concentration in Dance History and CriticismCredit
Required core: DANC 500 and either DANC 503 or 5066
Dance requirements: 6 credit hours from DANC 562, 563, 564, 566, or 5676
DANC 531 Criticism3
Electives related to concentration9
Theatre concentration in Dramatic Writing or Theatre Education and Outreach 
Plan I (Thesis): 
Required core: THEA 500, 503, and 5069
Electives related to concentration15
THEA 599 Master's Thesis (minimum credit hours)6
Plan II (Essay): 
Required core: THEA 500, 503, and 5069
Electives related to concentration15
THEA 598 Master's Essay3
Other electives6

Plan I: Master’s Thesis

This is the traditional M.A. program, and culminates in the writing of a formal Thesis, a work of original research and writing (typically, 60-85 pages) that explores in depth a particular, carefully delimited subject related to the student’s area of study. Plan I is especially recommended for students who intend to eventually pursue a Ph.D. The thesis must be written in the UNM Graduate Studies format.

Plan II: Master’s Essay and Creative Project

Plan II does not require a Thesis, but does require both a substantial Creative Project (usually, this means directing a full-length performance or project in the department, the schools or community, as well as a Master’s Essay. The Master’s Essay is intended to conform to the standards of a major seminar paper or journal article, including careful organization, clarity of argument, original research with full citation, bibliography, typically 30-50 pages in length. The Master’s Essay may address a topic related to the Creative Project, but this is not absolutely necessary. Plan II also includes a written exam, taken during the student’s final semester in the program.

Plan II: Master’s Exam

The Master’s Exam is conducted by a faculty committee of three. The supervisor of the student’s Master’s Essay normally serves as chairperson of the committee and the other two members are chosen in consultation with the student. The subject matter of the examination questions is taken from the particular program of studies followed by the student. The subject matter of the Master’s Essay must be included in the examination questions. Usually the exam is written; the committee may elect, however, to conduct some portion of the exam orally. The length of the exam is three credit hours. Each member of the committee conducting the exam submits at least one question.

Admission Requirements:

Admission Deadlines

Semester   Domestic ApplicantsInternational Applicants
Fall:April 15May 1
Spring:None accepted 
Summer:None Accepted 

The deadline for Financial Aid consideration is February 1.

To receive an early response, applicants are encouraged to submit a complete application as early as possible.

International applicants require additional materials and are processed through The University of New Mexico’s International Admissions Office. Call (505) 277-5829 or e-mail: for more information.

Programs in the Department of Theatre and Dance are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) and the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).

To enter the program, the student should have completed an undergraduate major in theatre or dance or have taken a minimum of 24 credit hours in Theatre and/or Dance, including History, Criticism, Dramatic Literature, Directing, Playwriting, Choreography, Technical Theatre and Performance. However, students with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines are eligible for admittance. Contact the Department for information.

The student applying for admission should obtain a Self-Managed Application from the Office of Admissions:
Call: (505) 277-4332
Online application form

Other application materials required by the department:

  • Letter of Intent clearly expressing your ability to undertake graduate studies
  • Three letters of recommendation

  • M.A. in Theatre and Dance
    • Unbound Academic Writing Sample (10-20 pages)
  • M.F.A. in Dance
    • Unbound Academic Writing Sample (10-20 pages)
    • A resume of educational and professional dance experience
    • 5 minute VHD or Web link of choreography or performance
  • M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing 
    • A full-length stage play (60-100 pages)

Career Opportunities:

Dancers express ideas, stories, rhythm, and sound with their bodies. They use a variety of dance forms that allow free movement and self-expression, including classical ballet, modern dance, and culturally specific dance styles. UNM offers a Bachelor of Arts in Dance that “presents a broad perspective on dance training within a liberal arts context. Students are well prepared to pursue both graduate work and professional careers in dance education, dance history/criticism and dance performance. The Flamenco Focus is the only program in the United States to offer a fully developed curriculum in Flamenco Dance technique” (from UNM Dance Dept. website). 

Students develop wide-ranging skills that can be applied in a wide range of occupations, including the performing arts. “The dance major’s presentation skills, ability to perform in public, and control of the body provides a solid basis for working effectively with others. Dance also develops the ability to concentrate intensely, listen introspectively, observe keenly, sol problems creatively, think critically, collaboratively develop a project, work independently, work under pressure, meet deadlines, and maintain composure when faced with the unexpected” (from University of Texas – Austin Fine Arts Career Services website). A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum formal education required. Some areas may require a graduate degree, or may assist employment in highly competitive areas. 

Contact Information:

Sarah Lentz: Department Administrator
(505) 277-2737