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Graduate School Program Cut


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I was hit with some terrible news today and I am just trying to wrap my head around everything.


I was offered a spot in the Theatre Management MFA program at Wayne State University.


Today, 2 months after my acceptance of the offer, I was told the program is now finanically unable to accept any new students into the program so I am SOL.


I was made the offer by email.


Is there any action that I can take, or am I just screwed?

Since they waited 2 months it is now too late to get into any other program,


Any and all help would be great.





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I looked up some info and in Michigan, an email is a binding verbal contract. I received an offer email and accepted via email. I feel they should not have made an offer if they didn't have any money or program to offer. Not to mention the fact that I could have accepted another offer had I known the circumstances.

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If you are trying to determine whether you can coerce conformance with the agreement reached via email, you should think about speaking to a lawyer. You will probably get the most accurate information, as well as a trained advocate if the lawyer determines something can be done, and it doesn't pose the risk of anyone inadvertently giving advice that could be construed as the unauthorized practice of law.

Edited by OriginalDuck
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  • 3 weeks later...

I would speak to someone, because the school could be liable under promissory estopple.

"In the law of contracts, the doctrine that provides that if a party changes his or her position substantially either by acting or forbearing from acting in reliance upon a gratuitous promise, then that party can enforce the promisealthough the essential elements of a contract are not present."


You rejected the other offers upon reliance on their promise, so it should be enforceable.  I would speak with a lawyer, the school's legal department, and maybe a professor to see if they could speak to a different program and get you in there because of this if they are unable to fulfill it themselves.

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Someone mentioned unions--usually the union covers a specific type of work only (e.g. RA or TA). The last TA union I was a part of required the school to pay TAs the full salary after the contract is signed, even if the course is cancelled. However, each TA assignment had a separate contract, which we would only sign in the week or two prior to the course's start date. So, since it sounds like you only accepted the offer of admission, I don't think there is anything you can do here.


As for legal action, I really do not think you have any recourse and I do not advise you to do so, unless you think they are acting in some sort of bad faith (i.e. lying to you about shutdown, or accepting other students but rejecting you). If the program is truly shutting down, then why would you want to force yourself into this program?? There's no point trying to jump onto a sinking ship.


FYI: In academia, when programs shut down, a lot of people are SOL. The program tends to do whatever it can to salvage the current students/staff/faculty in said program, but there's not much to do sometimes. Professors have told me that even tenured faculty will lose their job if the department/program shuts down (at some places, you are tenured with your department, not the school, so if your department no longer exists, neither does your job!).


Also, it's pretty common in the "real world" for job offers to disappear if the company goes under. I'm sorry to hear about these circumstances, but my advice to you would be to accept it has happened and focus your energy on making the next best move for you. It would be a very good idea to contact any other programs you turned down earlier and see if they still have a spot (at my school, many programs will keep their offer "active" for a year after they make it, even if you turn them down at first).


Finally, if you want any recourse at all, I think the most you can get is to try to get your application fee refunded. But it might be a lot more work/trouble than it's worth.

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