UK opens applications for first-ever online arts administration Ph.D. program


Students use University of Kentucky computers to complete classwork on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in the School of Arts and Visual Studies building in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Eddie Justice | Staff

Emily Laytham

UK has yet another “first” under its belt – this time, the country’s premiere online arts administration Ph.D. program.

The program, which was announced by a press release in late January, is intended to prepare students for careers specializing in arts or cultural research.

According to Rachel Shane, chair of UK’s Arts Administration Department, the program will likely appeal to professionals in arts sectors looking to enhance or widen their specialties. That includes council members and employees of academic institutions who “need additional skillsets… in order to build on the work they’re already doing.”

Early levels of interest from that audience have been explosive.

As of one week past the press release’s publicization, more than 125 people had already joined the program’s interest list, according to Shane. Of those interested candidates, only a handful will eventually become Ph.D. candidates in the program.

“We are really excited and have a lot of anticipation about how many applications we’ll see come in before the March 15 deadline,” Shane said. (Applications went live on Feb. 5.)

Such a high level of interest in UK’s program may entice other universities to follow suit, but Shane said that’s easier said than done.

“We’re one of the largest departments of arts administration in the country,” Shane said. “Most universities have one person with a lot of part-time instructors, so it’d be very hard to build a degree like this in those models.”

UK’s doctoral arts administration program will be comprised of 46 credit hours, with emphasis placed on study into arts administration and research methodology. Nine of the program’s credit hours will be devoted to electives and specialized research culminating in a dissertation.

Shane said the program would be part-time to satisfy the schedules of “professionals currently working in the [arts administration] field.”

One of those professionals is Travis Newton, an associate professor at Le Moyne College. Alongside his duties as professor, Newton directs the Le Moyne College Symphony Orchestra and acts as the school’s Director of Arts Administration.

Newton first heard about the program at a conference. He was very quickly interested.

“This wouldn’t be possible for me in any other format,” Newton said. “It’s great because I’d be able to use the skills I’m learning not only in my job, but in my teaching.”