Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Have You Ever Heard of a U.S. University Cutting a Top-Ranked Graduate Program? Neither Have I

And yet, here's Pennsylvania State University. Doing just that.

I hope you'll "like" this article (link at top of article on HuffPo) and/or re-tweet it -- it's important to get the word out that there's a major attack on the literary arts now ongoing in Pennsylvania.


Benjamin said...

This is the kind of development that makes me anxious about the state of the MFA, even though I've read so much great material from Seth and have largely managed to reassure myself about my decision to pursue an MFA. When I was first tossing around the idea of an MFA, I got a lot of feedback from my parents. Although there was a lot of support there, there was also a lot of skepticism of how these programs could possibly stay afloat in periods of economic strife. Part of this skepticism, most of it really, was due to a lack of knowledge about the programs in question and how they work, but any kind of level skepticism well-informed or not from a parent is something that sits heavy with me.

So I wonder Seth, should we be worried at all by this kind of behavior? Or, rather, should we be worried about the stability and survival rate of the programs we hope to join and contribute to? Can we even anticipate program stability if top-notch programs like Penn State are pulling the rug out with little to no warning?

Seth Abramson said...


At this point, we're still in the midst of a massive expansion in the number of MFA programs -- 6 to 8 new programs a year, meaning an increase in the number of programs of about 3% to 4% a year. That's pretty remarkable. We don't see that in other fields. When the mass contraction comes, I believe the programs most likely to go will be a) unfunded MFA programs (because they'll have no applicant pool, and no yield to speak of), and b) lower-ranked programs (for the same reasons). And eventually those two groups will be one and the same, anyway, the way things are headed. I'm hopeful that the PSU debacle is an exception -- of the 38 fully-funded MFA programs, PSU's was always one of the most vulnerable to this because of its small cohort size, remote location, small faculty, and the fact that the University already successfully contracted the program from three years to two -- suggesting a trend of precisely the wrong sort, as the top programs (e.g., Michigan, Cornell) extend from 2 years to (effectively) 4.


Alison said...

Oooh Seth, can you tell us anything about the new MFA programs that might be around for 2012 applications? This is an intriguing development.

Seth Abramson said...

Hofstra University
University of Saskatchewan [CAN]
Fudan University [CHINA] *
Cal. St. U. at Fullerton [Screenwriting]
Oklahoma City University (low-res)
University of Tampa (low-res)
University of Oklahoma (MPW)
Kingston University [UK]
Arcadia University (low-res)

* But apparently you have to live in China, be Chinese, and accept the principles of the Communist Party to attend. Seriously.

Alison said...

Thanks! And I don't know, I'm looking to shake up my life a little bit. Maybe that China program would be JUST what I need.

DisplayedName said...

Perhaps because the only rankings it topped were bogus... just a thought

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