PhD in Dance Studies

*Our PhD in Dance Studies is now being merged with Theatre and Performance Studies. Thus, we are no longer accepting applications for this program. If you are interested in the merged program, please contact Graduate Program Director Professor Ian Garrett at


The PhD in Dance Studies at York University is the first doctoral-level degree of its kind to be offered in Canada. The program’s purpose is to prepare scholars for careers in academia or the cultural sector. Employment possibilities for graduates range from teaching in post-secondary education, to work in archives and museums, arts administration, publishing, journalism, and the media.

A small program, the PhD in Dance Studies admits up to four full-time PhD students per year to pursue advanced research in the context of a large Department of Dance. York also runs established BFA, MA, and MFA programs.

For the PhD, admission requirements include at least an A- average, proof of English language proficiency (If required), and a Master’s degree in dance or a related field in the fine arts (such as music), the humanities (such as history or women’s studies), or the social sciences (such as anthropology). Preference is given to Canadian and landed immigrant applicants. Our international acceptance ratio is under 1%. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

The program focuses around seminars, field trips, fieldwork, conferences, and work in archives and special collections in Toronto and elsewhere. York University has excellent facilities and resources: the Sound and Moving Image Library, state-of-the-art studios, computer labs, and video equipment. Students benefit from assistantships and scholarships, contacts with the professional world, interaction with students of diverse backgrounds, and an extensive network of alumni.


Dance Ethnography & Cultural Research

Dance Ethnography & Cultural Research takes an interdisciplinary approach to cross-cultural dance studies through ethnographic and historical research methods, with emphasis on economic and cultural globalization as well as education. The field addresses a range of dance forms in local and global contexts—from popular contexts to religious settings, and from educational institutions to concert stages. Drawing upon critical and cultural theory, students will delve deeply into the social, cultural, and political implications of dance, while also querying the challenges of approaching the body and bodily experience as a research subject and research tool. The field’s emphasis on contextual analysis involves explorations into how historical and cultural constructions of power, gender, sexuality, the body, identity, class, and race influence dance practices.

Dance History & Heritage Studies

Dance History & Heritage Studies explores ways in which theatrical, social, and popular dance has been practiced, theorized, transmitted, and documented in diverse times and places. The field uses methodologies from the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences to investigate movement styles and repertoires as well as identities, communities, discourses, organizations, and institutions. The Canadian dance context provides a framework for studying Aboriginal and immigrant dance experiences within the political and theoretical constructs of colonialism, nationalism, regionalism, and official multiculturalism. Dance reconstruction, choreographic analysis, iconography, and musicology combine with critical writing, historiography, oral and public history in the process of assessing the status of dance and examining its artistic, social, and political functions. Archival and museum work emphasizes the preservation of dance through collections, exhibitions, and publications.


Graduate Admissions—Dance Studies