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Hello people of gradcafe! After hours of searching the internet with limited results, I figured it's best to turn to the knowledgeable people here for help (=

I'm an international student with a BA in history and am planning to apply for art history programs in the US. I found that some programs (such as Hunter's MA art history) require art history credits prior to enrollment as well as reading knowledge of a foreign language. There was only one art history course in my university and a credited internship at an art gallery (of which I both did). So now I'm panicking with a bunch of questions, I understand the best route would be to ask the schools directly but I thought I'd get a more general idea from applicants in the know here.  So:

1) How "required" are the art history credits and language requirements for MA art history programs? Is it usually possible to take them during the program?

2) There's no community college credits in my country where I can make up for the prerequisite credits, does that mean I would have to sign up for online classes in the US? If so, does it matter how/where I take them?

3) Seeing that the US offers limited terminal MA in art history, how do people usually go about applying straight for PhD? It seems I'm not even eligible to apply for MA? I've read on here that arts/humanities don't usually expect you to have research/published paper in undergrad, yet it seems pretty required for PhD so I'm a bit confused.

I apologize if my questions seem ignorant, any help would be greatly appreciated!

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With only one art history class, you might have trouble getting admitted directly to a PhD program. A terminal masters might be a good idea to get more experience. However, you might have a chance if you've worked extensively on visual culture and can demonstrate that, as well as a solid awareness of the major debates in art history, in your application; but again all that depends on the particulars of your experience, which I don't know. No matter which route you choose, it will be essential to articulate in your personal statement how the skills you acquired in history have prepared to do graduate work in art history. The two fields are not too different--it's not like you're switching from physics. 

I don't know how important art history credits are for MA programs, but it probably depends--you should contact programs individually. And, again, since history is so closely related I would think it wouldn't matter too much. It is certainly not essential to have published before applying to the PhD (which, in the US, are almost all MA/PhD programs). In fact, I would say it's probably a bad idea: you will likely regret having your juvenilia floating around once you're most established. That said, it is essential to have carried out a major research project, like a thesis. What admissions committees care about is whether you have the skills (and aptitude) to succeed in their program. Nothing demonstrates that better than a writing sample with an original argument, sophisticated use of primary and secondary sources, good visual analysis, and a letter from a professor who can attest to all of that. 

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Thanks for taking the time to reply! The lack of art history knowledge/class is the reason I'm not thinking of directly applying for PhD, thought it would be a better idea to gain more experience and knowledge in the field through an MA. I guess I will be asking the programs directly to be clear about admission requirements.

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Late reply but--you might want to look at MA programs in the UK (i.e., Courtauld, UCL, St. Andrews) that have good reputations and are more lenient about coming from a non-art history background. However, if you can make a good argument for your switch into art history and emphasize how the skills developed in your undergrad will contribute to your success in grad school, you might be able to get into the US MAs that require a stronger background in art history. 

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On 9/17/2018 at 11:09 PM, emily123 said:

Late reply but--you might want to look at MA programs in the UK (i.e., Courtauld, UCL, St. Andrews) that have good reputations and are more lenient about coming from a non-art history background. However, if you can make a good argument for your switch into art history and emphasize how the skills developed in your undergrad will contribute to your success in grad school, you might be able to get into the US MAs that require a stronger background in art history. 

Thanks for the reply! Yes I will be focusing on UK programs, I just felt it to be a waste after studying my butt off for the GRE (I got a 170 on verbal!) so I thought I should try to apply, though the US does seem less lenient about people coming from non-art history backgrounds.

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5 hours ago, viiciouscircle said:

Thanks for the reply! Yes I will be focusing on UK programs, I just felt it to be a waste after studying my butt off for the GRE (I got a 170 on verbal!) so I thought I should try to apply, though the US does seem less lenient about people coming from non-art history backgrounds.

Awesome on the GRE score! Mine were less than stellar. I got a 160 Verbal, 150 Quantitative, and a 5.0 on the writing. However, I did not study beforehand at all and went in completely blind. I'm going to study like crazy and retake the test. What are some study methods that worked for you? Was it mostly the practice tests?

Also, what is your focus/specialization in Art History? I know you come from a History background, but it would help to know about your interests to weigh options between the UK and US.

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On 10/9/2018 at 2:57 AM, WRS said:

Awesome on the GRE score! Mine were less than stellar. I got a 160 Verbal, 150 Quantitative, and a 5.0 on the writing. However, I did not study beforehand at all and went in completely blind. I'm going to study like crazy and retake the test. What are some study methods that worked for you? Was it mostly the practice tests?

Also, what is your focus/specialization in Art History? I know you come from a History background, but it would help to know about your interests to weigh options between the UK and US.

Hello, thanks for the reply!

Well, as a non-native speaker I had to study for about 3 months, so way to go for getting that score without studying! I had a pretty intense (?) studying process, I only did the free online practice test 2 days before the test (I advise people to do it earlier!! Also make sure to add another round of V/Q so you are prep to stay focus till the end of the test). I'll try to talk about my study process as short as possible, but I'm not sure if it's anything particular and if it works for everyone.

1) Vocabulary: I used magoosh vocabulary app/2000 and 1000 word GRE vocab booklet/Quizlet I studied everyday as I transit to and from work till I started dreaming about swiping the Quizlet app. Learning about the roots and origins of the words helped greatly in memorizing them and I think it also helps if you look up the words and make your own quizlet flash card (if you have time) I reccommend a site called vocabulary.com that has fun explanation and listed roots of the words. After remembering the words in the first round (about 50~100 words a day for new words) I review by making a full list of all the words, and divide them into 7 days of the week including repeating the sets (ie. mon:ABC tue:CDE). Depending on how long you want to study and how many times you would like to make it through all the sets (say 3,4 times), do the math and see how many sets you need to go through a day. When I had the time I also organized a lit of words with similar meanings or could be used in the same context I spent about 1 month learning new words and 1 month reviewing, I'm thinking it would be shorter for a native speaker ;)

2) I did more than 1000 questions on the vocab section, twice. Then did the ones I got wrong again. I found the materials online and I think they were from past tests and the official books. If you don't understand the logic for the question, go back and think it over with someone, don't skip or just accept the answer without understanding the rationale. Discuss the logic behind the answer and you'd get better at it, there is a certain flow to the questions so after some time, I could kind of  'feel' what the test  wanted me to answer.

3) I put all the materials on my phone/laptop/kindle so I could study while transiting etc etc

I don't think I can list all the things I did but if you have any questions feel free to ask! I'd really like to help people out with the test as best as I can ?

As a history major, I have to admit I am not as focused about what part of art history I'd like to study (guilty!) But currently, I am interested in modern European art and war/post-war art in Germany. I'd also like to study Japanese art and how it influenced European art in the 19th c. I know I sound out of focus so I've also considered applying next year when (hopefully) I have a clearer idea ? Any thoughts/advice will be welcome!

 

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