A Master of Fine Arts degree program instituted at the UW in 1990 is the first program of its kind in the U.S. designed for professional dancers who are making a transition into university-level teaching. The degree was initiated by Hannah Wiley, professor and director of the UW Dance Program.
Candidates for the degree must have a minimum of eight years of professional performing experience and hold an undergraduate degree. It is a select program: only three dancers are admitted each year and admission is based primarily on their accomplishment in the professional dance arena. Potential candidates are drawn from such companies as the San Francisco Opera Ballet, Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, and the Ohio Ballet.
Participants take a range of courses during their two-year program and work on a master's project, which involves the development and teaching of an academic course in the area of specialization.
Some of the graduates from the program have gone on to teaching positions at the UW Cornish College for the Arts in Seattle, the Northwest School, the University of Arizona, Kent State University, and the University of North Carolina. Others have taken positions as dance writers for The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and Dance Net.