A letter announcing the decision to discontinue Indiana University’s Ph.D. program in theater has left students in that program with more questions than answers.
Larry Singell, dean of IU’s College of Arts and Sciences, sent the letter to members of the department of theater, drama, and contemporary dance on Thursday night. In it, he explains Ph.D. graduates are competing with a growing number of graduates from master’s programs in the same field for a small number of professional and academic positions.
“Given the time to degree, this has raised the relative attractiveness of the (master of fine arts degree) versus the Ph.D.,” he wrote. “Our Ph.D. program is not exempt from these market forces. Thus, we have decided to focus our energies on maintaining an outstanding MFA program and supporting our (bachelor of arts and bachelor of fine arts) programs, including the recently added program in contemporary dance.”
Graduate students in the theater department who are already pursuing a Ph.D. will be able to finish their work and graduate, but no new students will be accepted.
In a phone interview Thursday, Singell said his decision began with an external review that recommended shifting the existing Ph.D. program in theater history, theory and literature to global performance theater studies. It was determined this shift would require help from faculty in other departments.