Rules and Policies

Dates and Location

  • March 22nd through 24th, 2024, Pittsburgh, PA
  • The event is at the Wyndham Grand Downtown Pittsburgh
  • USA Dance National Ballroom DanceSport Championships starts on Friday, even though the college events are on Saturday and Sunday. Feel free to come in early for workshops, to spectate the awesome evening session, and to participate in the social dance! For more details, check out the preliminary schedule on the USA Dance National Ballroom DanceSport Championships website.
  • Registration is open at Early Bird discount ends November 25th for non-students and February 22nd for students. Registration closes completely on March 8th. After the 8th, entries are extremely limited – we can only accept entries past the 8th if they don’t add a heat. Contact us at to do so!
  • If your team is planning to pay by check at the event, please contact the registrar at
  • Important Note: When you register in O2CM, it will (at first) charge you like a normal adult. Never fear! Contact the registrar at with the O2CM account that needs adjusting and they can update it to the college rate. Then, pay as normal. 
  • Don’t forget when you and your teammates register to make sure their affiliation is up to date in O2CM. This is essential to ensuring your national ranking points capture all of your team’s success!
  • A preliminary schedule can be found at our competition schedule. 

College and Alumni Prices

A college student is defined as someone 35 and under who is actively seeking a degree or graduated within the last 6 months. As in the past, this is verified by student ID. All participants must be or become members of USA Dance to dance at the National Collegiate DanceSport Championships.

College Student, Already-An-Awesome-Member:
    • $40 before Nov. 25th,
    • $45 before February 22nd,
    • $65 for procrastinators
College Student, Not-Yet-A-Member:
    • $65 before November 25th,
    • $70 before February 22nd,
    • $90 for procrastinators

Includes USA Dance Membership, which you can get via the membership page!


As adult (or senior!) competitors, your entry fees are the same as other adults. Those are listed on the USA Dance National Ballroom DanceSport Championships Website. It generally amounts to $12.5/dance/person and a base package that provides entry into all sessions and workshops. Don’t forget that you need to qualify to participate!


We have a partner search you may use to find a partner prior to registration close.  We prefer to match TBAs all at once because it lets us optimize the partnering to give everyone as much opportunity as possible with as few partner swaps as possible. As a heads up, we will not do TBA matching on the day of the event itself. So, if you want someone to dance with, we highly suggest you use this form. If you do not have a TBA matched and in the system by March 8th, it will have to be dropped from the entry list.

You Get

  • All the perks mentioned below and on the home page
  • 1 Level of Collegiate and the same level of Amateur Adult (ex: Silver-College and Silver-Adult). No qualifications necessary – compete both collegiate and adult right out the gate. 
  • Got two partners of different proficiency levels? No problem! Amateur Adult should be thought of as more difficult than Collegiate. Think the difference between Beginning Bronze and Advanced Bronze.  Instead of doing bronze-silver, you get to do college-bronze and adult-bronze (or college-silver/adult-silver, if you’re feeling adventurous!
  • Dancing with an Alumni? Also no problem! They will pay the alumni rates and you will pay the college rates. A college-alumni pair is eligible for the adult categories, and the college student may opt to dance their college events with a different partner.

Want More?

  • If having two levels isn’t enough, we provide you two ways to get up to four levels of dancing – twice as much as a normal competition. You won’t leave without your fill of dancing!
    • If you do opt to qualify, then you will recieve an additional level of collegiate and an additional level of adult (for a total of 4 levels) at no additional cost to you. That’s right – free!  
    • Alternatively, you can dance in these additional levels for an additional fee per dance (roughly $12.5/dance/person).
  • Don’t forget to form teams for the team matches!
  • Leave some space in your brain for learning from national-level and world-level talent during our workshops and/or Q&As held throughout the weekend!

Additional Rules

Check out the entries and dance list at our sister website for the USA Dance National Ballroom DanceSport Championships

You may dance different levels in different styles. As we note in our FAQ, the collegiate level in each category should be considered the 'lower' level of the two (as adult includes all college students + adults who may have been at this for a while). So, if you are used to dancing bronze/silver at a competition, you should dance collegiate bronze and adult bronze for a comparable experience OR dance collegiate silver and adult silver for a challenge.

You can check the costume section of the rulebook and the syllabus section of the rulebook. However, since you probably prefer a summary over pages and pages of exacting rules:


For the syllabi:


It helps to break it into International Styles and American Styles. For the International Styles, WDSF or ISTD syllabi are permitted. If your team follows "The International syllabus", you are almost certainly following this.  For American, DVIDA is the preferred syllabus. However, there is significant variation in syllabi in the United States, so there is more flexibility here.


Though we know you have plenty of homework already, learning the syllabi is designed to teach you the core principles of dance in a way that builds upon itself. So, eat your spinach like Popeye and learn your syllabi routines.  If you have questions about compliance, you can always contact us.


To save you time on costuming:


First, Rhinestones are allowed. Get fabulous!  Second, there are ‘decency rules’ you’d hopefully follow anyways:

  • For people-wearing-dresses-or-skirts: full coverage of ‘private areas’ is required. Bare minimum: it’s opaque, not skin colored, and covers as much as full-briefs and a normal bra. Can’t be just a literal bra or a literal two piece. If it is smooth/standard and it covers your knees, you’re probably fine, but your leg slits have to be just leg slits, not leg-and-hip-slits. If you’re unsure, go check the full breakdown to figure out if it’s going to work. Generally, the gap created by a slit can't be more than 2".
  • For people-wearing-pants: full coverage of ‘private areas’ rules apply to you too.
    • Latin/Rhythm: The 'private areas' includes the ‘breast area’. For those rocking the ‘shirt with an open V’ look, fabric tape will be your friend. If you are wearing your shirt untucked, it must be tunic-style or otherwise designed to hang outside the pants. Otherwise, tuck it in!
    • Standard: If you're a newer dancer, let's keep it simple and give you one choice. Just wear a white shirt, a black ties, and a black vest with your black pants and you'll have no problems. As you develop as a dancer, you'll see open dancers opt for a tail suit or a Black Jacket (aka the 'Dokman'). There is slightly more freedom than this, and you can delve into the rules if you want to get fancy. But generally, if you are in syllabus, you can't go wrong with the Shirt/Vest/Tie combo.
    • Smooth: If you don't know what you should do, follow the recommendations for Standard and have an outfit you can use for both styles. That said, there is significantly more freedom in choices of color in Smooth. You also can technically wear a turtleneck instead of a tie, or a closed collar jacket instead of a tie. Lastly, for those of us who are snobs, an ascot is indeed a tie.



Contrary to what you might hear, you do not need to spend enormous sums of money on your costuming to look good. For example, a tie and vest from Macy's that fit you is more than adequate. Tailor the shirt a little if you want to get fancy. Same with a simple practice skirt and top.  By all means, wear the fanciest of things if it is fun for you. The point is fun! But the key is to dance better than your peers if your goal is to win.


Concerns or questions? Got a costume you want reviewed? Just e-mail the rules officials in advance at . You can even send them pictures and have them give you a thumbs up or thumbs down. They’ll be the ones enforcing the rules at the event, so there is no higher authority on what will pass muster.

The team match is a new format this year!


There are several wrinkles which are unique to NCDC. These are here to achieve our goal of maximizing inclusion, providing parity, and testing each college’s ability to train the future generations of dancers. Please read the rules in full.


  • The Team Match is held early Saturday night. You all get to dance in the prime evening session of Nationals and get to spectate the best dancing in the country to boot!
  • There are no limitations on the number of entries from a given college. Yes, you read that correctly. We want people to dance, to be proud to represent their team, and to have the opportunity at the end of the year to dance in the night show.
  • To register a team in O2CM, your team captain(s) need to enter the team name into the team match (ex: University of Soandso Team A). We will reach out closer to the event for your exact team roster.
  • We believe that strong demand throughout the entire competition will mean there will not be time for two team matches this year. Instead, we will have one super-match. We reserve the right to open things back up to two separate eight-member team matches, but we think this new format might be cooler anyways.
  • There will be six dances in the team match. They will be: Standard Tango, Smooth Foxtrot, Latin Rumba, Rhythm Swing, Standard/Smooth Waltz, and Latin/Rhythm Cha Cha. The final two-dances are multi-style - dance them whichever way you prefer!
  • Teams will be comprised of 12 individuals. Don’t have enough people for a full team or are someone looking to join a team? Check out our team match search form! You do not need to all be from the same college to field a team, and many dancers who were together for a team match are still in touch with each other after the event!
  • Two dances in each team match are restricted to bronze dancers only. These will be the multi-style dances (Smooth/Standard Waltz and Rhythm/Latin Cha Cha). The best teams in a style must be able to demonstrate not only their ceiling, but their ability to train future generations of dancers.
  •  For purposes of determining syllabus, the team matches are considered open. Bronze dancers are welcome to go crazy and cut loose. Lifts are not allowed at any level.
  • Team match scholarship will be rewarded broadly, rather than to the top team. Make the top 12? You’re in the money. We want as many colleges as possible to win scholarships, you all deserve it!

Vie for the right to call your team the National Champions! We provide two rankings: by total points, like traditional competitions, and ‘points per dancer’.  This was our compromise between the big vs small question. To be considered a team, you must bring at least 8 people to the event.  As is tradition, we’ll include the results in our historical results on this website, so your team can prove its well-earned national ranking! P.S. – ask your school for more money for your team because you’re nationally ranked. It works!

Check out the FAQ below or reach out at The official USA Dance National Ballroom DanceSport Championships website might also have what you are looking for, as it is designed for all competitors rather than the details specific to college students.

Frequently Asked Questions

We believe the combination offers a unique experience to college students no other event in the United States provides. First, it means we can offer more features that we otherwise might not be able to offer you. The combination means you can stick around for the night shows and watch truly international dancers and professionals, or enjoy the workshops that are available during downtime between your heats.


Most importantly, a big part of our mission is to provide you with a vision of ballroom dancing beyond your time in college. For example, almost every one of our adult smooth Championship competitors initially started at a college program!  By combining the championships, we believe it makes it easier to make that vision real for each one of you.  When you graduate, you can opt to continue coming to the same event you’ve been coming to each year and see old friends and new faces. You can also see older dancers who have continued for many years - proof of the benefits of keeping an active and healthy hobby in your lives.

You must be a member of USA Dance to compete.

College students do not need to qualify, but can dance twice as much as a normal competition if they choose to do so. Check out the qualifying policies and consider heading to other great USA Dance events on our competition calendar!

As the Minnesotans say – “Oh ya, you betcha”!  Check out our [Financial Assistance] page.

Got two partners of different proficiency levels? No problem! Amateur Adult should be thought of as more difficult than Collegiate. Think the difference between Beginning Bronze and Advanced Bronze.  Instead of doing bronze-silver, you get to do college-bronze and adult-bronze (or college-silver/adult-silver, if you’re feeling adventurous!)

YES! There will be a social dance AND a night show Friday. Competitors get access to the social dance for free. So come in early on Friday and come be part of the fun!

USA Dance has a team of DRO (DanceSport Rule Officials) that respond to e-mails year-round. They can answer any question you have about the rules and help you figure out what to do with a gentle bedside manner. They can be found at


Alternatively, we LOVE talking to everyone, so you can also e-mail us at and we’ll help you out!

Further Questions

If there’s something we missed, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have!