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Hi everyone, 

I was recently granted with one of the most prestigious fellowships in my country (Spain) to pursue graduate studies in the USA / Canada. This means I will be fully funded for two years and I have no financial restrictions for choosing a graduate program. I'm currently working on my applications and still doing research on different possibilities. Some questions have arisen and because I am unfamiliar with many aspects of the US graduate education system I thought I can find some answers by sharing them with you.   

I have a background in Literary Studies and a BA in Fine Arts, and my focus has primarily been on visual culture, visuality, media / technology, critical theory and the arts. My initial plan is to pursue a terminal MA program in Art History (with an interdisciplinary approach) or in Visual and Critical Studies. However, my intention is to pursue a PhD afterwards, so I want to make sure the MA has an academic approach that would take me in the direction of doctoral studies. As I do my research on different programs, I get the feeling that in the United States most terminal MA programs are more professional-oriented thus not so rigorous academic-wise (am I right or is it just a very biased feeling?). This has raised the question: Which MA programs in Art History / Visual Studies are out there that would take me into a very good PhD program? Or: Should I try to go directly into a PhD?  

Some MA programs that are in my radar: 

- SAIC (MA in Visual and Critical Studies )

- Columbia (MODA) 

- Bard Graduate Center (MA in Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture).  

- CALARTS (MA Aesthetics and Politics). 

- SVA (MA Critical Theory and the Arts) ((does anyone have an opinion on this program?)) 

Or more “traditional” MA programs in Art History, in Columbia or NYU (would a program like this allow me to have an interdisciplinary approach?). 


OR PhD programs: 

- Rochester (PhD Visual and Cultural Studies) 

- U. Chicago (PhD Art History) 

- UC Irving (PhD in Visual Studies) 

- CUNY (PhD Art History) 


Would any of those MA Programs make sense in order to become involved in doctoral studies afterwards? Do you know of any other MA degrees that might be worth consider?


Thank you very much!!    




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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello! I'm sorry that no one has responded to you. My interests are also in the visual so I might be able to offer some info (hopefully). Chicago also has an interdisciplinary humanities MA program. It's one year and from what I heard, if you apply to a PhD program and don't get in they'll suggest you do that first. I think admission for that is offered in their suggestion, but not sure. 


As for PhD, have you considered UC Santa Cruz? They have a visual studies program as well. Most other interdisciplinary programs seem good (Stanford's MTL and Berkeley's Rhetoric), but that might just be my own opinion.


That's all I have to offer off the top of my head, but if you want to PM me, we can chat!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you!! I am actually applying to both, the PhD and MA programs at Chicago, so it's very reassuring to read you! 

I didn't know about UC Santa Cruz, I'll look it up. 

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