What’s in a USC Kaufman BFA?

April 12, 2017

Designed to prepare the artist, the innovator and the entrepreneur, our groundbreaking four-year professional degree offers you rigorous training and the flexibility to pursue a curriculum in line with your professional and artistic goals.  We asked our students to tell us how they would describe their classes. Here’s our “Zagat-style” guide the USC Kaufman Bachelor of Fine Arts.

BFA Core

The BFA Core is a sequence of required courses that “builds your foundation.”

  • Taken as a cohort so that “you learn with and from your peers,” your daily Dance Technique class begins with ballet followed by hip-hop, contemporary styles or partnering.
  • You’ll “work with master artists traveling to L.A. from all over the world” during Repertory & Performance. Held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2pm to 5pm each year, “it also provides the chance to work with students from other classes.”
  • Improvisation & Composition, which is required for two years, allows you to “jump into the creative process.” “Knowing how to collaborate, as Bill once said, is what sets good and great dancers apart.”
  • Conditioning for Dancers and Dance Science, taken in the first year, “help you to know and understand your body so that you can take care of it.”
  • “Develop your voice” and “have one-on-one discussions with guest artists about the field today” in weekly Colloquiums.
  • History courses such as Dance in Popular Culture and International & Historical Perspectives on Dance ensure that you are “an educated dancer who understands dance then, now, and moving forward.”
  • Interdisciplinary courses “tools for your toolkit.” Music for Dancers teaches you basic music theory, “which is especially helpful since you’re working with live accompanists.” Introduction to Dance for the Camera teaches you how to “create a reel,” “find your brand,” and “present yourself on social media in a professional way.” Dance Leadership “prepares you to be that dance entrepreneur” by teaching you about the business of dance.
  • Your Senior Project is yours to envision. “It’s so exciting to think about.”

    USC Kaufman students perform Dwight Rhoden's "Gone."

    USC Kaufman BFA students perform Dwight Rhoden’s “Gone.” | Photo by Rose Eichenbaum


Shape your personal artistic identity by focusing on a concentration in Dance Performance, Choreography for Stage & Cinematic Arts, Dance & Music or our new Design Your Own option. “You get to choose your courses” for that concentration.

  • Concentration electives within USC Kaufman span a variety of subjects, from Composition to African-American dance history to arts journalism to technique classes in Tap, Afro-Cuban, Bollywood and Ballroom. “Ballroom is so much fun!”
  • “You have the ability to become a well-rounded artist” by taking courses in music, cinematic arts and dramatic arts—regardless of your concentration.
  • While you’ll declare your concentration at the end of your sophomore year, you’ll have the chance to take Performance Lab and Special Topics courses that fulfill requirements starting freshman year. These 1-unit classes “allow you to explore specific subjects in depth.”

USC General Education & Writing

USC’s General Education and Writing program provides you with a rigorous liberal arts experience. Your GE courses will help you to become “critical thinkers beyond the dance world.”

USC students in GE course at Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center | Photo by Ema Peter

  • With 20 to 35 courses under each GE category, “you get to explore a wide range of interesting topics,” in areas such as business, poetry, communications, film, political science and more.
  • “You get to meet students from all across the university,” since all USC students have the same general education requirements.

Free Electives/Minors

Our 132 unit program includes 16 free elective units.

  • You can “enhance your dance career” by pursuing a minor in another academic field. Current students are pursuing minors such as Nonprofits, Philanthropy & Volunteerism, Occupational Science, Theatre, Marketing, Anthropology, Music Industry, Human Biology, Performance Science, and Economics, to name a few.

You can also “just take classes for fun, such as Yoga” or Cinema 466, “that class where you watch movies before they are released in theaters.”

By Anne Aubert-Santelli