Seton Hill to Offer First Undergraduate Program Leading to Dance Education Certification in Pennsylvania

Seton Hill University is the first university in Pennsylvania to receive approval to offer the Undergraduate Dance PK-12 certification preparation program. Seton Hill received initial program approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education earlier this month. 

As a result, Seton Hill will be able to prepare students to teach dance at the Pre-K through 12 level in the state of Pennsylvania through the Bachelor of Arts in Dance - Pedagogy track with PK-12 Certification.

“Seton Hill University faculty are always looking for ways to enhance our degree offerings to students, and the new PK-12 dance education certification program will open more doors to students interested in teaching dance,” said Seton Hill Provost Susan Yochum, SC, Ph.D.

“Seton Hill’s School of Visual and Performing Arts has long offered pathways to teaching certification in art and music and now we are able to do the same for our dance students,” said Dean Kellee Van Aken. “I want to extend my thanks to TaMara Swank, Assistant Professor and Dance Department Coordinator, and Daniel Casebeer, Associate Professor of Education, for their joint efforts in building this new program and attaining initial approval from the state so that Seton Hill can continue its tremendous work in educating the next generation of arts educators.”

“Over the years, we have had many students who were very interested in teaching dance but, in the state of Pennsylvania, those dancers were limited on what they could do after they completed their education. They could teach at a studio or open their own dance studio, but they could not teach in a Pre-K through 12 setting,” Swank said. “We are proud that Seton Hill will be the first undergraduate program in the state to prepare students for this certification, which has been advocated for by dance educators across the state for many years. In particular, I want to thank the PA Dance Education Organization for their leadership in making the PK-12 dance certification a reality in Pennsylvania.”

In January 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Education approved PK-12 licensure for teachers of dance in the state. The licensure allows schools to hire highly qualified dance teachers just as they do for instruction in art, music, math or other subjects. Previously, dance licensure required pre-service teachers to study communications, vocational education or physical education where they were not necessarily getting the dance specific content or pedagogy that teachers really needed to succeed, according to Miriam Giguere, President of the PA Dance Education Organization.

In May 2019, the organization, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, conducted a survey of all 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. Districts were asked if they would be likely to hire a dance teacher if there was direct teacher certification and 63% of the districts completing the survey said that they would. 

“Dance is one of the art forms required by the Pennsylvania State Standards for Arts and Humanities, along with music, theatre and visual arts, so it is important that colleges and universities offer licensure programs so that we can get certified teachers into the schools,” Giguere said. “It is a significant accomplishment for Seton Hill to be the first undergraduate program in the state.”

She added, “Post pandemic children are experiencing so many challenges not only catching up to academic standards, but also catching up to social, psychological and physical benchmarks as well. Dance can be a great tool for schools to address these gaps for children in teaching them how to work together, feel comfortable in their bodies and have a healthy way to express themselves.”

Seton Hill’s program will combine courses in dance - such as dance technique, dance history and anatomy for dancers - with courses from the university’s highly-regarded education program that will prepare them for the classroom. Upon graduation, students will be eligible to take the Pennsylvania exam to become certified in PK-12 dance education. They will be able to earn additional certifications, such as elementary education, through testing.

Incoming students will be able to enter the program in Fall 2024. 

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