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About the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program

Video of brief interviews with PhD Dance students describing their experience of the program, the classes, and the grad community here at The Ohio State University.

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Video of BFA Dance students in various classes, rehearsals, and community events in the Ohio State Department of Dance. 

The PhD in Dance Studies at The Ohio State University is a writing- and scholarship-based, five-year residential terminal degree for scholars and scholar-practitioners who are curious, multidisciplinary, focused, and ready to invest in becoming critical scholars and scholar practitioners. The PhD program focuses on historical, archival, ethnographic, theoretical, and digital humanities approaches to dance research grounded in embodied knowledge. The PhD in Dance Studies culminates in a written dissertation on a topic of the student’s devising that demonstrates acumen in writing longform prose, developing and sustaining an argument, mobilizing bodily, archival, ethnographic, digital, and/or theoretical evidence, and maintaining profound awareness of developments in the student’s field and subfield(s). While the dissertation must consist of written work, it may include other forms of video or film productions with the approval of the relevant committee and the graduate advisor. Centered in movement practices, doctoral research at The Ohio State University can range from stage, to screen, to communities, to digital contexts, virtual reality, and beyond. Dance is our launching point.  

Our PhD in Dance Studies maintains a curricular focus on analyzing dance practices. It supports the development of expertise in historicizing and theorizing dance forms, grounded by courses that consider dance as a social and cultural practice. We encourage our students to situate their inquiries within a broad-based understanding of dance studies research and methods, as well as adjacent fields appropriate to their research. We are deeply committed to training dance scholars who will contribute and expand definitions of written scholarship that documents and analyzes dance, and advocates for the field.   

The PhD program requires a total 80 units of graduate credit, at least 50 of which must be earned beyond the Master's degree. It is a full-time degree; part-time students are occasionally considered on a case-by-case basis. All doctoral students complete a written qualifying examination at the end of the first year of study to prepare for continuing studies. Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree only complete an additional written comprehensive examination at the end of the first year in the program. 

Be sure to take a look at our students and their work.

Please see the profiles of our graduate faculty to see the variety creative and scholarly expertise that informs our graduate program.

Program Requirements

  • 50 hours after the master's degree (80 hours after the bachelor's degree)
  • 21 units of core courses and a minimum of 14 additional units of credits in the Department of Dance
  • 7 units minimum of independent research
  • 8 units minimum of graduate courses outside of dance (can include Graduate Minor and Interdisciplinary Specialization courses)
  • successful Qualifying examination (written)
  • successful Candidacy examination (written and oral portions)
  • successful written prospectus
  • successful written dissertation and oral examination

Please see our PhD Checklist that students use to track their course progress to graduation, alongside other university resources, professional staff, and faculty advisors. 



Histories, Theories, and Cultural Studies

  • 6805 Introduction to Dance Studies* - Autumn 1st  Year - 3 Credits 
  • 7902 HTL Analyzing Movement - 1st Offering - 4 Credits
  • 7406 Theories of the Body - 1st Offering - 4 Credits
    • OR 7408 Bodies on the Line 
  • 7901 HTL Choreography - 1st Offering - 4 Credits 

Methods and Approaches 

  • 6801 Foundations in Dance Research - Autumn 1st Year - 3 Credits
  • 7900 Theories and Methods** - 1st Offering - 4 Credits
  • 7409 Ethnographies of Dance and Performance - 1st Offering - 4 Credits  

*Required in the first semester of enrollment. 
**Required in the first or second year of enrollment. 


ELECTIVES IN DANCE (9+ credit hours)** 

  • 6301 Analysis [Laban Systems] - 3 Credits 
  • 6802 Foundations in Dance Pedagogy* - 3 Credits
  • 7406 Theories of the Body - 4 Credits
    • OR 7408 Bodies on the Line 
    • OR 7490 Performing Bodies (if not used as core)
  • 7402 Dance in a Time of Turbulence - 4 Credits
  • 7403 Modernism in Dance - 4 Credits
  • 7404 Postmodernism in Dance - 4 Credits
  • 7405 Black Continuum in American Dance - 4 Credits
  • 7390 Analysis: Special Topics    
  • 7490 History/Theory/Literature: Special Topics (if not used as core) - 4 Credits
  • ACCAD 7893 Interdisciplinary Creative Research Seminar 

*Required for Direct-Enroll PhD students during first offering available. 
** Additional hours may be needed for Direct-Enroll PhD students in order to have appropriate preparation for candidacy as well as required total degree hours. 


ELECTIVES OUTSIDE DANCE (6+ credit hours)** 

May include courses that are part of a Graduate Minor, Graduate Certificate, or Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization.  
** Additional hours may be needed for Direct-Enroll PhD students in order to have appropriate preparation for candidacy as well as required total degree hours. 


EXAMS AND DISSERTATION (9+ credit hours)

  • 8200 Qualifying Examination - 1 Credit
  • 8800 PhD Pre-Candidacy Independent Readings   
  • 8998 Candidacy Exams***   
  • 8999 Dissertation ****  

***Includes Prospectus writing post-candidacy and may include required 1) Dissertation Prospectus workshop (AU) 
****Includes Dissertation writing as well as required 1) Dissertation Prospectus workshop (AU) if not taken as part of 8998, 2) Gathering Materials (SP), 3) Writing Your Chapters and Responding to Feedback (SP), and 4) Revising and Editing the Dissertation (AU) workshops, which are repeatable as desired. 

The Graduate School at Ohio State also supports a wide variety of Graduate Minors and Graduate Interdisciplinary Specializations that support PhD student research and provide valuable connections and networking opportunities. 


Video of interviews with students from the Masters and PhD programs at Ohio State. Students are from a variety of departments in the Arts and Sciences. They describe the opportunities and resources available to them through the university. 

Video of places and resources in Columbus, OH. Introduces prospective students to the benefits of living in the city while going to school at The Ohio State University.