Dance, BA

Dance, BA

We embrace a wide array of dance techniques and styles and welcome students from diverse backgrounds. You’ll take courses in modern/contemporary, West African, ballet, and hip-hop and related street dance styles. This comprehensive approach will prepare you to enter a dynamic dance community that increasingly celebrates innovative, diverse styles and aesthetics. You’ll bring your own unique background into the classroom and collaborate with your fellow students and faculty to create new work, hone your creative vision and explore the scholarly conversations at the core of dance.

Columbia is home to the Dance Center, which brings renowned choreographers and companies from around the world to Chicago each year. You’ll engage with these artists in classes, workshops and performances. You’ll graduate with the skills and knowledge you’ll need to contribute to the evolving field of dance.

What to Expect Your First Year

When you arrive at Columbia, you’ll join an active community of students and faculty. We’ll encourage you to develop your distinct perspective as a dancer, regardless of the training you’ve had so far. Auditions will place you in the level of technique classes that’s right for you, and these will be coupled with dance studies courses so you can think critically about your experience in the studio. You’ll have the opportunity to audition to perform early on. You’ll also take core liberal arts courses with Columbia students from across campus.

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your last year at Columbia, you will have gained experience with a variety of styles and techniques and may be performing outside of the classroom, creating your own work, or even teaching at a local studio or community center. You’ll take intermediate and advanced courses in contemporary technique, and will continue your study of the history and theory of dance. You may also explore elective courses in concert production, sound and video, or kinesiology. We’ll help you find an internship that makes sense for your interests, which might be in teaching, community engagement or production. You’ll also engage regularly with dancers, choreographers and scholars from around world as part of the Dance Center’s guest residency program.

As a BA student, you’ll have the flexibility to pursue a minor or double major. You’ll play an active role in the vibrant creative community at Columbia, collaborating on projects with students in theatre, music, film and more.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

BA, BFA: What’s the Difference?

Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs feature flexible curricula that allow for exploration and the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major, while BFA programs feature more focused required coursework in the major.

Students who wish to pursue entry to the BFA program must first gain admission to Columbia College Chicago. Eligible students will be evaluated individually by the student’s academic department sometime during their first or second year of enrollment.

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

You couldn’t pick a more exciting dance community to join than Chicago’s. The city is home to hundreds of companies and choreographers, diverse in style and aesthetics. The world’s leading dancers and choreographers visit the city often. Chicago companies—many of which include or are led by Columbia alumni—develop innovative new work here every day. You’ll have the opportunity to not only engage with this rich community as an audience member, but also through workshops, classes and events. You’ll form deep relationships with your fellow students as you charter your own new contributions to the community. You’ll join the Student Dance Organization, a student-run group that provides free workshops, service projects and mentorship with upperclassmen. There will also be opportunities for you to choreograph and audition to perform in student and faculty work outside of your coursework.

What are my internship options?

A career in dance requires more than performance skills. If you’re interested, you can pursue opportunities to learn grant writing, production, marketing and teaching. We encourage students to intern during their senior years. You’ll work with a faculty mentor to identify an internship that makes sense for your career ambitions. If you’re interested in performance, you might secure an opportunity with a company. Or, you might intern in arts administration or community engagement. Teaching is an important element of a successful career in dance, so we’ll provide ample opportunities for you to be part of lessons in a variety of ages, styles and venues. You might even be a teaching assistant for a faculty member in the program. Dance students have interned at organizations such as Audience Architects, Red Clay, Design Dance, American Rhythm Center and the Center for Community Arts Partnerships, as well as on Columbia projects such as the B-Series, a celebration each semester of underground street dance forms such as breaking, popping and house.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.