Jump to content
WRS

Fall 2019 Applicants

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I thought I would go ahead and start a new thread for Fall 2019 applicants in Art History!

I just completed my undergrad and am taking a year off to focus solely on applying to both MA and PhD programs. My focus is in contemporary art theory, and I will be applying to:

  • University of Chicago
  • CUNY
  • Columbia MODA
  • Stanford
  • Williams (MA)

What is everyone else's focus and where will you be applying?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My main focus is art market and art auction, I'd like to jump right into the real world scene. 

I'm applying to Sotheby's and Christie's New York Campus, and searching for several other schools as well. 

Edited by 1401renaissance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi! Also just completed undergrad this spring. Taking the year to work in a curatorial department while I apply and am hoping to pursue a curatorial career after grad work. I focus on 19th-century British and French. While I haven't finalized a list yet, the ones on my radar are NYU, Princeton, Williams (MA), Columbia, Penn, Yale, Berkeley. Would appreciate suggestions for other good programs to look into!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To all: I think most of the ivies offering PhDs really do want you to have a MA in hand before entering their programs. For those of you looking into 19th/20th century art, I would forewarn you that getting into those programs are highly competitive and that someone like a Carol Armstrong or Darcy Grigsby may not take a new PhD student every application season/year. If your dreams are to go directly to a PhD program to do museum work or art history some other places you might want to consider could be Iowa (Dorothy Johnson), UW Madison (they have a strong visual culture program and top notch lit studies and history departments that could be useful), and Florida. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/7/2018 at 12:58 PM, mrssalad said:

To all: I think most of the ivies offering PhDs really do want you to have a MA in hand before entering their programs. For those of you looking into 19th/20th century art, I would forewarn you that getting into those programs are highly competitive and that someone like a Carol Armstrong or Darcy Grigsby may not take a new PhD student every application season/year. If your dreams are to go directly to a PhD program to do museum work or art history some other places you might want to consider could be Iowa (Dorothy Johnson), UW Madison (they have a strong visual culture program and top notch lit studies and history departments that could be useful), and Florida. 

I know it can seem that way, but it's not true. The Ivies and other top programs want you to be able to do PhD level work. That means: an understanding of the major debates/issues in the field; the ability to articulate a well thought-out research plan; having already conducted a high level research project that integrates visual analysis, theory, primary sources, and secondary sources; fluency or at least a high level of proficiency in at least one research level; evidence of high achievement; and letters saying you have the potential to make a major contribution. Some people have that after their BA, and if they do they will get in to a top program, especially if they have top grades from a top school. Others, probably most, don't and would benefit from a Masters program to acquire the skills they need to thrive in a PhD program. 

Iowa, Madison, Florida: all good programs, with good people. But you will face a very steep climb--I'm talking near-impossible--if you want a tenure-track job or a curator position at the end of it. There are people who have done well coming out of these and similar programs, but the sad reality is that most do not. Prestige matters still. Add to that the disparity in resources, and that dream job ends up being even further out of reach. I know it's uncomfortable, but if you can't get in to a top program in the first place, you have to be honest and ask yourself: Why didn't I get in? Will I really be able to catch up? Is it possible I don't have the very specific, highly specialized kind of skills to be a successful academic? The people at the top programs already have a leg up on the skills they need to succeed (think about it: the gate keepers of academia already let them through the first of the many gates one has to cross to get that dream job, and that's the easiest gate to cross. What makes you think it's going to get easier?). They also have better resources and connections. If you attend one of these others programs, you will be behind, and you will have to work even harder, with far fewer resources, financial and scholarly. The competition for jobs is tight--according to the Mellon foundation, less than half of humanities PhDs will find full-time employment in academia--and only the very strongest survive. You really have to ask yourself if going to a less prestigious program is worth the gamble. This is a personal question and no one can answer it for you. I'm just saying that it demands confronting the reality of the humanities ca. 2018 and deep reflection about what you really want--about your goals, your ambitions, your abilities, your future. 

Edited by Bronte1985

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/8/2018 at 4:13 PM, Bronte1985 said:

fluency or at least a high level of proficiency in at least one research level

*level=language 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Bronte1985 said:

*level=language 

You writing and editing this long meditation about prestige and "the reality of the humanities ca. 2018" and then coming back the next day to reread and revise your own (unanswered and ignored) post is such a perfect metaphor for academia. You posted about being on the job market in 2015. Regardless of the outcome (I can guess...) move on, let it go. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/8/2018 at 7:13 PM, Bronte1985 said:

 

Iowa, Madison, Florida: all good programs, with good people. But you will face a very steep climb--I'm talking near-impossible--if you want a tenure-track job or a curator position at the end of it. There are people who have done well coming out of these and similar programs, but the sad reality is that most do not. Prestige matters still. 

That is not true. I can give lists of 10+ names of people I have met at conferences who got PhDs at these institutions and are currently in tenure track jobs. I do not feel comfortable giving specific names online. But if anyone wants to send me a personal message to get more explicit details, feel free. I will say that one is working at a top museum in New York, one is at a top museum in San Francisco, one is at a top state school, and one is at a top 20 liberal arts college (among others). As for the others: are these people working at Princeton? No. But, why should we assume that everyone gets a PhD to work at an ivy or top-research producing institution? MANY PEOPLE do not have the goal of working at Princeton in mind. Many may want to work at a smaller liberal arts college, a local state university, or community college. And, we should not diminish these people's goals. They do very important work too. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/8/2018 at 7:13 PM, Bronte1985 said:

 They also have better resources and connections. If you attend one of these others programs, you will be behind, and you will have to work even harder, with far fewer resources, financial and scholarly. The competition for jobs is tight--according to the Mellon foundation, less than half of humanities PhDs will find full-time employment in academia--and only the very strongest survive. You really have to ask yourself if going to a less prestigious program is worth the gamble. This is a personal question and no one can answer it for you. I'm just saying that it demands confronting the reality of the humanities ca. 2018 and deep reflection about what you really want--about your goals, your ambitions, your abilities, your future. 

I don't buy this either. A place like Wisconsin or Michigan may be for the sake of argument a 10-20 program instead of a 1-10. But they do have 1-10 history, history of science, and literature departments. UW-Madison as Bill Cronan and the Nelson Institute which has a massive amount of funding and a global presence. They have Jill Casid who is a complete game changer in the art history/visual culture fields. This is to say that I think anyone can go to any institution and play his or her cards right and end up OK. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you look through the 10 most recent ArtNews articles announcing new appointments to the position of assistant curator, you get: SMU, WUSTL, UD, UNC, IFA, UW-M and then some contemporary non-PhDs. Those hires probably represents some of the best students at those programs but there are plenty of grads from Princeton and Harvard in dead end curatorial assistant positions at top institutions (the MoMA three-year cap was not put into place to kick out UW-M graduates...) 

Of course it's not a pure meritocracy. Timing and luck are oft-overlooked factors... every curator or professor under 45 would say those forces contributed to their success. All this thread fosters is overthinking about the process. If you want to pursue a PhD and you can do it without taking on debt*, go for it. If it leads to a job in the field, great, and if not, you can do something else. It is not that serious. 

 

* A rule without exceptions: no one should take on debt for a graduate degree in the humanities.

Edited by adelaide.labilleguiard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, mrssalad said:

This is to say that I think anyone can go to any institution and play his or her cards right and end up OK. 

It's unwise to confuse possibility with probability. I understand that @Bronte1985's advice is disconcerting, but it's an accurate description of the academic job market across the humanities. Jobs, even relatively minor ones, go to graduates of elite programs (not actually equivalent to Ivies), with a couple scraps left for the rest.

23 hours ago, mrssalad said:

I can give lists of 10+ names of people I have met at conferences who got PhDs at these institutions and are currently in tenure track jobs.

WHEN did they get their job? Are they recent graduates? Pre or post 2008? What jobs did they hold in between?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

It's unwise to confuse possibility with probability. I understand that @Bronte1985's advice is disconcerting, but it's an accurate description of the academic job market across the humanities. Jobs, even relatively minor ones, go to graduates of elite programs (not actually equivalent to Ivies), with a couple scraps left for the rest.

WHEN did they get their job? Are they recent graduates? Pre or post 2008? What jobs did they hold in between?

One got a PhD in 2017 and was a visiting professor at a fairly eminent liberal arts college. This fall he/she/they started a tenure track job. One museum job was given this year - he/she/they got his/her/their PhD in 2018. The top 20  tenure-track liberal arts college happened in I believe 2015/2016 after a year long visiting position. They are just a few examples of people I personally know. There are several others who landed jobs post 2012. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, telkanuru said:

It's unwise to confuse possibility with probability. I understand that @Bronte1985's advice is disconcerting, but it's an accurate description of the academic job market across the humanities. Jobs, even relatively minor ones, go to graduates of elite programs (not actually equivalent to Ivies), with a couple scraps left for the rest.

WHEN did they get their job? Are they recent graduates? Pre or post 2008? What jobs did they hold in between?

Edited/deleted because this is pointless.

Edited by adelaide.labilleguiard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/10/2018 at 6:57 AM, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

You writing and editing this long meditation about prestige and "the reality of the humanities ca. 2018" and then coming back the next day to reread and revise your own (unanswered and ignored) post is such a perfect metaphor for academia. You posted about being on the job market in 2015. Regardless of the outcome (I can guess...) move on, let it go. 

Better metaphor for academia: getting mean, personal and defensive when you someone says something you don't want to hear, rather than responding calmly with evidence. As it happens, I have a good, tenure-track job, thank you very much. And, yes, I probably have better things to do than post on this forum. But I do feel strongly that this advice should be out there for prospective PhD students. There are many reasons to get a PhD, but it is indeed serious, and it involves a lot of sacrifices. If you decide after you're finished that you want to pursue another line of work, that's great, but it's hard to start from scratch in a new profession, at 30+, with no other work experience, and, unless you have other sources of income, no savings. PhD programs do not, as a rule, prepare you for jobs outside academia or the museum (though they should!).  So I for one don't think a PhD, especially one from a mid-tier program, should be entered into lightly.  People certainly can do well coming out of mid-tier programs. I don't dispute that. Your odds are quite a bit better, though, coming out of a top program. This is a matter of statistics. There will always be people who beat the odds, but the problem is, everyone thinks they'll beat the odds, and not everyone can. So all I'm saying is that people looking to get a PhD should take an honest look at the job situation and make an informed decision based on their situation and goals. I'm so glad that @mrssalad's friends have gotten great jobs, and I sincerely wish the best for everyone out there, regardless of whether they're at Yale or Iowa. 

Edited by Bronte1985

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Bronte1985 said:

Your odds are quite a bit better, though, coming out of a top program. This is a matter of statistics. There will always be people who beat the odds, but the problem is, everyone thinks they'll beat the odds, and not everyone can. 

You don’t have those statistics. I cited a  list of hires of graduates from “mid-tier” programs, and you haven’t cited a single hire out of a top program (I can think of plenty of those, too).

Grad school isn’t that serious, Bronte... it sounds like you just had a bad experience. You shared your status, so it only seems fair to share that I went to a “top program,” by your estimation, and I work in an art-adjacent industry. 

Edited by adelaide.labilleguiard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

You don’t have those statistics. I cited a  list of hires of graduates from “mid-tier” programs, and you haven’t cited a single hire out of a top program (I can think of plenty of those, too).

Anecdotes aren't data.

I don't have the statistics for art history specifically; few national organizations have dedicated the resources to exploring the scope of the problem. But a 2015 study of history placements surveyed 4,538 TT positions across all US universities. The study created a social network based on where universities placed their students, and then ranked the universities by network centrality. This ensured that a high-ranked program would either be one which placed a lot of students or placed a few students very well. (Link to study)

The study concluded that a disproportionate number of jobs go to a few programs - 50% of professors come from 12 schools.

1233 (27%) TT positions are held by graduates of the top 5 programs (Harvard, Yale, UCBerk, Princeton, Stanford).

2856 (63%) TT positions are held by graduates of the top 20 programs.

894 (20%) of TT positions are held by graduates outside of the top 50 programs.

 

The study finds the same trends for TT jobs in Computer Science and Business. And the study was conducted on data largely unaffected by more recent hiring trends. Job postings in history have cratered catastrophically and show no signs of recovery. 

 

3 hours ago, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

Grad school isn’t that serious, Bronte... it sounds like you just had a bad experience.

I am happy that you enjoyed graduate school. When dispensing advice to a public forum, however, it is wise to examine whether or not your experiences are normative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

Anecdotes aren't data.

Right, and you still have not presented any data about the job market in art history. I have a singular point of view and so of course my experience of the field is anecdotal -- that seemed too obvious to require a disclaimer. And I only cited museum jobs... so your response about "tenure-track faculty" (all tenured and tenure-eligible professors, all ranks, including those hired in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s) in history departments is a reach twice over.

The voices of those of us employed in the field are valuable, particularly in the absence of data. My views and experiences balance those of Bronte1985, another employed art historian. But if you perceive an enjoyable graduate school experience to be "non-normative," then we're probably too far apart on these issues for a productive conversation. Best to turn things back over to those applying this round.

 

Edited by adelaide.labilleguiard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

Right, and you still have not presented any data about the job market in art history.

Is there specific data about art history? I've never seen it. Do you have some reason to believe that art history is exempt from trends common across the humanities? Do you think museums are somehow much more meritocratic than the professoriat? Why?

25 minutes ago, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

The voices of those of us employed in the field are valuable

Which is, of course, why your initial response to @Bronte1985 was to belittle their advice while implying they were a grumpy washed-up crybaby who couldn't hack it (Regardless of the outcome (I can guess...) ). Right.

25 minutes ago, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

But if you perceive an enjoyable graduate school experience to be "non-normative,"

Strangely, I never said that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

Is there specific data about art history? I've never seen it. Do you have some reason to believe that art history is exempt from trends common across the humanities?

Not that I know of and yes, because we have an alt-ac market in museums that is at least equal in size to the traditional TT market in terms of job openings per year.

10 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

Which is, of course, why your initial response to @Bronte1985 was to belittle their advice while implying they were a grumpy washed-up crybaby who couldn't hack it (Regardless of the outcome (I can guess...) ). Right.

Fair criticism. Upon further reflection, neither of you are grumpy washed-up crybabies who couldn't hack it. 

11 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

Strangely, I never said that.

 

1 hour ago, telkanuru said:

I am happy that you enjoyed graduate school. When dispensing advice to a public forum, however, it is wise to examine whether or not your experiences are normative.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

Not that I know of and yes, because we have an alt-ac market in museums that is at least equal in size to the traditional TT market in terms of job openings per year.

That would seem to be a matter of scale rather than a qualitative difference. But the financial impact that tanked the academic market certainly impacted the museum and other institutional markets in equal degree. I would also note that your opinion on the intercompatibility of museum and PhD are not universal in this thread.

5 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Strangely, I never said that.

Your enjoyment of graduate school is not the sum of the experience you have related here. You have also talked about graduate school "not being so serious" for you, and a lack of concern with finding a job which suggests you had a relatively easy time doing so.

I have also enjoyed graduate school. That doesn't mean I'm willing to recommend the experience. 

5 hours ago, adelaide.labilleguiard said:

Fair criticism. Upon further reflection, neither of you are grumpy washed-up crybabies who couldn't hack it. 

Well, not yet anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can we please quit it with this ranking and job statistic ego/battle nonsense? We are living in a time when the humanities are under attack and its not helping us to be attacking each other other. Moreover, many people enter the academy and do not want a major museum position or tenure track teaching job. Some want to become art librarians. Some want to work in historic homes. Some may want to teach high school or community college. Some are retirees who want to get a degree for their own fun (not many of them, but I've seen a few on some program websites). Others may want to go into administrative roles at the college level or for art organizations. I just mea this conversation has taken a turn to belittling people who may not see the tenured job at a top institution as their #1 priority. Yes, there may be alot of Columbia or IFA grads circulating in museum and 4 year institution jobs. But, they also have significantly larger departments than does a place like Northwestern University or Brown University. Clearly, a department with more graduate students will have more professionals out in the world. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hate to change the topic but...advice needed on LORs! I am applying to art history PhD programs after getting a BA outside of the field and MA in the field, and I am unsure who to ask for my third LOR. My first two LORs will be my respective BA and MA dissertation advisers, but I am unsure whether to get my third one from someone who knows me well from my BA but not my current research, or someone who knows me less well but knows my current research. Also, both of these writers I am considering are recent PhD grads but are employed at universities and have taught me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/16/2018 at 6:44 PM, emily123 said:

Hate to change the topic but...advice needed on LORs! I am applying to art history PhD programs after getting a BA outside of the field and MA in the field, and I am unsure who to ask for my third LOR. My first two LORs will be my respective BA and MA dissertation advisers, but I am unsure whether to get my third one from someone who knows me well from my BA but not my current research, or someone who knows me less well but knows my current research. Also, both of these writers I am considering are recent PhD grads but are employed at universities and have taught me. 

I would ask the person who knows you well from your BA; they can speak to your work ethic and qualities, while you can speak to your current research in your SoP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all! 

I will try to enter to a Ph.D. this season. Can you help me? I wrote to some POI and the one I like the most hasn't answered yet. I am terrified. Does this mean that I have zero chance in this program? Or it's common that they don't answer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/16/2018 at 7:12 PM, Carpentier said:

Hi all! 

I will try to enter to a Ph.D. this season. Can you help me? I wrote to some POI and the one I like the most hasn't answered yet. I am terrified. Does this mean that I have zero chance in this program? Or it's common that they don't answer. 

It has nothing to do with your chances of getting in! Odds are, your POI is very busy. I would recommend sending a follow up email. I've had to do that a couple of times, and my POIs immediately responded to the follow up. In one case, it was a well-renowned professor from a prestigious University, and we ended up speaking on the phone for almost 40 minutes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.