In Training: Degree in Three

Accelerated programs launch dancers into their careers earlier.



Students of Trinity Laban. Photo by jk-photography, Courtesy Trinity Laban.

A dancer’s career isn’t a long one, so four years of college can seem like a big drawback. That’s where three-year bachelor’s degrees become an ideal compromise. Though these programs are intense—with concentrated classes often calling for extra-long days and summer sessions to complete dance and academic requirements—students up to the challenge can get out into the professional world a year earlier than most graduates.




New York, NY

Degree offered: BFA in dance

No. of dance majors: About 100

Audition required: Yes

Curriculum: Four to five ballet and modern classes each week, plus somatics and composition

Fitting it in: The program is three years and two summers. During the six-week summer courses, six companies are in residence, giving students the opportunity to work with artistic directors and dancers. Additional academics can be completed during NYU’s January or summer terms.

Notable opportunities: Senior year, students become members of the program’s Second Avenue Dance Company, which simulates the experience of being in a professional troupe. Guest artists set or create new work on students.


BFA students work closely with MFAs, many of who have already established careers in dance and choreography.




London, England

Degree offered: BA in contemporary dance

No. of dance majors: About 300

Audition required: Yes

Curriculum: Nine technique classes per week: three ballet, three of one contemporary technique and three of another, including Graham, Cunningham, Limón and release techniques. Choreography is mandatory in the first and second years.

Fitting it in: Trinity Laban’s school year runs from September into July. Students often use summers or holiday breaks to work with dance companies for required credits.

Notable opportunities: In their third year, students work with choreographers and have the opportunity to perform in the London area and beyond. One piece is selected to tour abroad.


Three-year programs are more common in the U.K. Trinity Laban students range in age and come from about 35 different countries.




Columbia, MO

Degree offered: BFA in dance

No. of dance majors: 25

Audition required: Yes

Curriculum: Equal emphasis on ballet, modern and choreography. Guest artists are brought in each semester to teach different types of world dance.

Fitting it in: Students complete the program in three years and two summers. Summer programs are six and a half weeks long and taught by guest artists. Students also dance on Saturdays during the school year.

Notable opportunities: In the past, senior students have choreographed works in collaboration with University of Missouri’s Mizzou New Music Initiative, featuring student composers and musicians.


Stephens is a women’s college, though the dance department’s two-year, non-credit conservatory program is also open to men.

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Dancers at work in USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance's facilities. Photo by Ema Peter, Courtesy USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance

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Since welcoming its first freshman BFA class in 2015, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance has made a name for itself. The Los Angeles dance program is known for creating versatile artists in a collaborative, innovative training environment, and its alumni are already making bold professional leaps.

Dance Magazine caught up with five recent grads to see where they've landed and how USC Kaufman and its career services department prepared them for their future in the dance industry.

July 2021