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The Dance major is within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

The School of Theatre and Dance offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance.  A Dance minor, as well as, Teacher Licensure in Dance is also offered through the school.  The focus of the Dance Program is to develop each student's abilities as a performer, choreographer and movement instructor. Students in dance are taught versatility in movement style through a technique sequence in modern dance and ballet, with courses in Jazz and other dance forms. There is also a strong emphasis on individual creativity in the dance composition curriculum. Theoretical and practical knowledge of dance history, production and management is acquired through integrated experiences in the classroom, studio, performing and touring situations. Students have the opportunity to perform in works composed and directed by other students, faculty artists and guest choreographers-in-residence. The School of Theatre and Dance also offers majors in Theatre and Musical Theatre, and a minor in Theatre.  

More About the Field 

The focus of the Dance major is to develop an individual's abilities as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher and also to develop critical and creative thought through written expression and discussions. Attention is given to: the tools necessary to create, perform, produce and appreciate dance; the historical, philosophical and cultural significance of various dance forms; and the art of expression and movement within the dance experience.


Students have many opportunities to be involved with productions because the School of Theatre and Dance sponsors levels of performance.  In the dance program students can become more specialized in dance production, choreography, education, or performances.

Dance Theatre aims to promote dance concerts and theatre performances within JMU and the Harrisonburg community.  DT gets involved with community service in the form of teaching dance to different populations, such as day care centers, elementary schools, group homes, retirement centers.  DT raises funds for the Dance Program at JMU for use of bringing professional companies to work with the dance majors, and taking trips to see professional dance performances. 

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Some common combinations are Art, Art History, Cultural Communication, Film Studies, Health Sciences, Jazz Studies, Kinesiology, Music, and Special Education Non-Teaching.

Characteristics of Successful Students

A strong work ethic, an appreciation of the arts in general and their place in society, strong collaborative skills, a positive outlook and ability to promote themselves as artists and create employment opportunities for themselves.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Artistic Director
  • Arts Administrator
  • Arts Media Critic
  • Children’s Theatre Director
  • Broadway Theatre Performer
  • Choreographer
  • Costume Designer
  • Cruise Director
  • Dance Company Fundraiser
  • Dance Company Manager
  • Dance Company Publicist
  • Dance Director
  • Dance Studio Manager
  • Dance Talent Agent
  • Dance Teacher
  • Dance Therapist
  • Jazz Dance
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Modern Dance
  • Movie Double
  • Music Theatre Actor
  • Personal Trainer
  • Physical Therapist
  • Recreation Instructor
  • Stage Manager
  • Stunt Person
  • Theme Park Entertainer
  • Yoga Instructor

Who Employs Graduates?

Amusement and Theme Parks, Children's Theatres, College/Universities, Commercial Studios/Theatres, Community Studios/Theatres, Cruise Ships, Fitness Centers, Media and News Organizations, Primary and Secondary Schools, Regional Theatres, Show Groups, Television & Motion Picture Studios, and Touring Companies.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Dance students have several opportunities available to them. As a dance major a student would become a member of one of the performing dance companies that perform both on and off campus. The Virginia Repertory Dance Company has a modern repertoire and the Contemporary Dance Ensemble performs modern and jazz. Students should contact the faculty coordinator in either program that they are interested for more information.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Dancers and Choreographers
Art, Drama and Music Teachers, Postsecondary

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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