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9 October 2023

8 minutes read

The 10 Best Dance Universities in the USA for 2024

Are you dreaming of a career in dance, where your every move becomes an expression of artistry and passion? Pursuing a major in dance is an excellent way to turn that dream into a reality.

The United States is home to some of the most prestigious colleges for dance, offering top-notch programs and boundless opportunities for budding dancers. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the 10 best dance universities in the USA for 2024. These institutions have garnered reputations for excellence in dance education, and they are ready to help you unleash your full dancing potential.

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Why Pursue a Dance Major?

Before we dive into our list of the best dance universities, let’s discuss why pursuing a dance major can be an enriching and fulfilling choice.

 Passion for Movement and Expression

Dance is a unique form of expression. It transcends language barriers and allows individuals to convey emotions, stories, and concepts through bodily movements. A dance major is ideal for those who are passionate about this art form and wish to explore its depths.

Versatile Career Opportunities

While many assume that a dance major leads exclusively to a career as a professional dancer, the reality is much more diverse. Graduates can become choreographers, dance instructors, dance therapists, arts administrators, or even pursue further education in dance-related fields.

Physical Fitness and Discipline

Dance majors undergo rigorous training, which not only enhances their physical fitness but also instills discipline and dedication. These skills are transferable to various aspects of life.

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Top Dance Schools in the USA

1. The Juilliard School (New York, NY)

A Legacy of Excellence

The Juilliard School, located in the heart of New York City, boasts one of the most prestigious dance programs in the world. Established in 1951, Juilliard has consistently produced outstanding dancers and choreographers who have left an indelible mark on the world of dance.

A Hub of Artistic Innovation

At Juilliard, students are immersed in a culture of artistic innovation. The faculty comprises renowned dancers and choreographers who nurture creativity and push the boundaries of dance.

Rigorous Training

Juilliard’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance program offers rigorous training in ballet, modern, and contemporary dance. Students also benefit from collaborations with other arts disciplines, providing a holistic education.

Extensive Performance Opportunities

One of Juilliard’s strengths is its commitment to providing students with ample performance opportunities. Whether it’s in-house productions, guest performances, or international tours, Juilliard dancers shine on the world stage.

2. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Where Tradition Meets Innovation

The University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance is known for its exceptional dance program. With a rich history in the performing arts, this institution combines tradition with innovation.

Strong Classical Ballet Training

The BFA in Dance program at the University of Michigan places a strong emphasis on classical ballet training. Students develop a solid foundation in this discipline while also exploring modern and contemporary dance.

Diverse Dance Styles

In addition to ballet, students have the opportunity to delve into various dance styles, including jazz, hip-hop, and African dance. This diversity enhances their versatility as dancers.

Extensive Performance Opportunities

Ann Arbor provides a vibrant backdrop for performances. Students regularly showcase their talent in a variety of productions, from classical ballets to cutting-edge contemporary works.

3. New York University (New York, NY)

Dance in the Heart of the Dance World

New York University (NYU) offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance, placing students in the heart of the global dance industry. With New York City as your campus, you’ll be surrounded by opportunities.

Access to the Dance Scene

NYU students have unparalleled access to the city’s vibrant dance scene. They can attend world-class performances, intern with renowned companies, and even participate in site-specific dance projects.

World-Class Instructors

The faculty at NYU is a blend of experienced educators and working professionals in the dance world. This mix ensures that students receive both theoretical knowledge and real-world insights.

Artistic Exploration

NYU encourages students to explore their artistic boundaries. The curriculum includes classes in choreography, dance history, and dance improvisation, fostering creativity.

4. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

Dancing in the Entertainment Capital

The University of Southern California (USC) is nestled in Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world. USC’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance program takes full advantage of its location.

Diverse Curriculum

USC offers a diverse curriculum that covers ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop dance, making it suitable for dancers of all interests and backgrounds.

Industry Connections

Students benefit from USC’s strong connections to the entertainment industry. Guest artists, internships, and networking opportunities abound in this dynamic environment.

Collaborative Approach

USC encourages a collaborative approach to dance. Students often collaborate with filmmakers, musicians, and actors, expanding their horizons and preparing for the diverse demands of the industry.

5. Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)

Bridging the Gap Between Art and Academics

Northwestern University’s School of Communication offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Dance program that bridges the gap between artistic expression and academic study.

Strong Focus on Performance

Northwestern places a strong emphasis on dance performance and choreography. Students have numerous opportunities to showcase their talent both on and off campus.

Interdisciplinary Collaborations

One of the unique features of Northwestern’s program is its emphasis on interdisciplinary collaborations. Dancers often work with theater, music, and visual arts students on innovative projects.

World-Class Faculty

The faculty at Northwestern includes experienced dancers and scholars who bring a wealth of knowledge to the classroom. They foster critical thinking and creativity among their students.

6. Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

Exploring Dance Theory and History

Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Dance program that delves into the theoretical and historical aspects of dance.

Dance History and Theory

Emory’s curriculum places a significant emphasis on dance history and theory. Students gain a deep understanding of the cultural and historical contexts of dance.

Interdisciplinary Study

Emory encourages interdisciplinary study, allowing students to explore connections between dance and other academic disciplines, fostering a well-rounded education.

Supportive Environment

Emory’s close-knit community provides a supportive environment for students to pursue their passion for dance. This supportive network extends to faculty, staff, and fellow students.

7. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

A Balance Between Artistry and Academics

Cornell University, located in scenic Ithaca, New York, offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Dance program that strikes a balance between artistic expression and academic study.

A Diverse Dance Offering

Cornell’s dance program encompasses various styles, including ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop, providing students with a well-rounded dance education.

Community of Artists

Cornell fosters a sense of community among its dance majors. Students collaborate on projects, attend performances together, and support one another in their artistic journeys.

Faculty Expertise

Cornell’s faculty members are not only accomplished dancers but also passionate educators. They guide students through their dance studies, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience.

8. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

Nurturing Dance Education and Outreach

The University of Florida’s College of the Arts offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance program with a strong emphasis on dance education and community outreach.

Dance Education Focus

The BFA program at the University of Florida places a particular focus on dance education, preparing students to become effective dance instructors and advocates.

National and International Performances

Students at UF have the opportunity to perform nationally and internationally, gaining exposure to different dance styles and cultures.

Community Engagement

The university’s commitment to community engagement means that students actively contribute to the local dance scene through outreach and educational programs.

9. Duke University (Durham, NC)

Interdisciplinary Arts Exploration

Duke’s program encourages students to explore dance within the context of other arts disciplines, fostering creative connections between dance and other forms of expression.

Exceptional Facilities

Duke boasts top-notch dance studios and facilities, providing students with a conducive environment for practice and creativity.

Supportive Learning Environment

Duke’s close-knit community offers a supportive learning environment, allowing students to thrive in an atmosphere of collaboration and innovation.

10. Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, CA)

Small Class Sizes

One of the unique features of Claremont McKenna’s dance program is its small class sizes, which allow for individualized instruction and mentoring.

Well-Rounded Dance Education

The program at Claremont McKenna emphasizes building a well-rounded foundation in dance, ensuring that students receive a comprehensive education in various dance styles.

Holistic Approach

The college’s holistic approach to dance education extends beyond technique, encouraging students to explore the cultural and social aspects of dance.

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Tuition Fees and Scholarships

Understanding the financial aspects of pursuing a dance major at the best universities in the USA is crucial. Tuition fees can vary significantly, and scholarships can be a lifeline for many aspiring dancers. Here, we’ll explore the tuition fees and scholarship opportunities at these top dance universities:

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for dance programs at these universities can range from affordable to substantial, depending on the institution and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. It’s essential to research and plan for these expenses as part of your decision-making process.

Public vs. Private Universities

  1. Public Universities: Public universities often offer lower tuition rates for in-state residents compared to out-of-state students. For example, the University of Florida, as a public institution, offers competitive rates for Florida residents, making it an attractive option for in-state students.
  2. Private Universities: Private universities like The Juilliard School and New York University typically have higher tuition fees. However, they may offer substantial financial aid and scholarship opportunities to offset the cost.

Additional Expenses

Dance majors should also consider additional expenses such as dance attire, shoes, and performance fees. These costs can add up throughout your academic journey.

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships can be a game-changer for students pursuing a dance major. Many universities offer scholarships specifically for dance majors, recognizing the talent and dedication required to excel in this field. Here’s a glimpse into the scholarship opportunities at some of the top dance universities:

The Juilliard School

  • Dance Division Scholarships: The Juilliard School offers scholarships based on merit and financial need. These scholarships can cover a significant portion of tuition and living expenses.

University of Michigan

  • School of Music, Theatre & Dance Scholarships: The University of Michigan provides scholarships for both in-state and out-of-state students pursuing a dance major. These scholarships are competitive and awarded based on auditions and academic achievements.

New York University

  • Steinhardt Scholarships: NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development offers scholarships to outstanding dance majors. These scholarships are merit-based and can be substantial.

University of Southern California

  • USC Kaufman Scholarships: USC Kaufman School of Dance offers a range of scholarships, including the Global Achievement Scholarship and the USC Merit Scholarship. These scholarships recognize exceptional talent and academic excellence.

Northwestern University

  • Department of Theatre Scholarships: Northwestern University offers scholarships to dance majors based on audition performances. These scholarships aim to support talented dancers throughout their academic journey.

Emory University

  • Emory College Scholarships: Emory University provides various scholarships to incoming students, including dance majors. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievements, leadership, and artistic talent.

Cornell University

  • College of Arts and Sciences Scholarships: Cornell University offers scholarships for students pursuing a dance major within the College of Arts and Sciences. These scholarships consider both academic excellence and artistic potential.

University of Florida

  • School of Theatre + Dance Scholarships: The University of Florida’s School of Theatre + Dance offers scholarships to talented dancers. These scholarships may cover tuition and provide additional financial support.

Duke University

  • Duke Arts Scholarships: Duke University offers arts scholarships to students with exceptional artistic talents. Dance majors can apply for these scholarships to offset tuition costs.

Claremont McKenna College

  • Merit Scholarships: Claremont McKenna College provides merit-based scholarships to students, including those pursuing a dance major. These scholarships aim to reward academic and artistic achievements.

Applying for Scholarships

When applying for scholarships, it’s essential to review each university’s specific scholarship requirements and deadlines. Most scholarships for dance majors will require you to participate in auditions or submit a dance portfolio. Additionally, ensure you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for need-based financial aid.


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Choosing the best college for dance is a significant decision for aspiring dancers. These 10 universities in the USA for 2024 offer exceptional dance programs, catering to a wide range of interests and aspirations.

Whether you’re looking for a strong focus on performance, academic study, or interdisciplinary exploration, these institutions have something to offer. Explore their offerings, audition requirements, and scholarship opportunities to find the best fit for your dance journey. Don’t miss the chance to pursue your passion and embark on a fulfilling career in the world of dance. The world is your stage, and these universities will help you shine on it.

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What Makes a University the “Best” for Dance Majors?

The best dance universities excel in several areas, including faculty expertise, resources, dance performance opportunities, and the success of their alumni. They provide a comprehensive education encompassing various dance styles and disciplines.

Is Dance a Popular Major in the USA?

Yes, dance is a popular major among students who are passionate about ballet, modern dance, jazz, and more. Many universities offer extensive dance programs to cater to this demand.

What Career Opportunities Await Dance Majors?

Dance majors can embark on diverse career paths, such as professional dancers, choreographers, dance instructors, arts administrators, and more. Graduates from top dance programs often find success in both artistic and academic fields.

Do These Universities Offer Scholarships for Dance Majors?

Indeed, many of these universities provide scholarships, grants, and financial aid to talented dance students. It’s essential to research each university’s scholarship opportunities and requirements.

Are There Specific Admission Requirements for Dance Programs?

Admission requirements vary by university, but most programs require auditions or the submission of dance portfolios. Prospective students should prepare by taking dance classes and gaining performance experience.

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