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Philosophy BA applying for Art History PhD


osunflower
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Hello! I graduated with my BA in Philosophy and a minor in German from an unknown state school this spring. Currently, I am applying to Philosophy PhDs and Art History PhDs. I have taken about 8 classes in art history, but did not major or minor in it because my school did not have a major/minor. I am interested in craft art, rural art, and folk art and the intersection of those with queerness. I am interested in programs that are more theoretical but where I can also get decent experience with museums because my long term goal is museum education. You might wonder, "Why not museum studies?" To that I say: I need funding and cannot find Museum Studies programs with any decent funding. I am concerned because I am applying from another field and I have a few questions:

1). My writing sample is a philosophy paper that talks about gender issues, but does not engage with art at all. I have art history papers that are several years old and not anywhere close in quality to my philosophy sample which I have been reworking for about 5 months. Will this hurt my chances? Would I be better off submitting a worse paper that deals with art?

2). Can anyone recommend schools with faculty working on craft art?

3). Am I competitive without a BA in Art History?

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I'd imagine that your eight art history courses will make a compelling case, especially if you did well in them. 

However, I would definitely submit a writing sample that focuses on art history in some direct fashion. I'm pretty sure that's a requirement unless you can somehow link your argument to an artist's work. 

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If you want to apply to an art history PhD program, your writing sample really has to be about art. It's hard to imagine you'll get in otherwise. 

You say you want to work in museum education, so why are you also applying to philosophy programs? I don't really see how that will make you qualified. In general, it takes a lot of energy to apply to PhDs in two different disciplines--they require totally different statements and writings samples, not to mention letters of recommendation. By all means, if you want to pursue art history, you can, and should  talk about how your experience in Philosophy and German has prepared you, but you will still have to articulate two very different cases in your statements for each discipline. It's OK to be unsure what you want to get your phd in--I hesitated between English and Art History--but you really should pick one. Art history and philosophy are very different disciplines. You can draw on art history in philosophy and especially philosophy in art history, but their methodologies, objects of focus, conventions are not at all the same.  I would take some time to figure you what you really want to study and what you're actually prepared to study, and concentrate your energy on that.

Edited by Bronte1985
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On 10/10/2019 at 4:18 PM, Bronte1985 said:

In general, it takes a lot of energy to apply to PhDs in two different disciplines--they require totally different statements and writings samples, not to mention letters of recommendation. By all means, if you want to pursue art history, you can, and should  talk about how your experience in Philosophy and German has prepared you, but you will still have to articulate two very different cases in your statements for each discipline. It's OK to be unsure what you want to get your phd in--I hesitated between English and Art History--but you really should pick one. Art history and philosophy are very different disciplines. You can draw on art history in philosophy and especially philosophy in art history, but their methodologies, objects of focus, conventions are not at all the same.  I would take some time to figure you what you really want to study and what you're actually prepared to study, and concentrate your energy on that.

I agree with much of this but might have a slightly different take. I did apply to PhD programs in two distinct disciplines (though neither of them was art history). I had a demonstrated track record in both and couldn't make up my mind, so I was hoping that the application process would decide for me. That didn't quite work out, since I ended up getting admitted to one program in one discipline and two programs in the other discipline. So, in the end I still had to make a decision, but the application process and campus visits helped make it clear to me what discipline I really wanted to be in. That being said, applying to programs in two different disciplines is a lot of work (twice as much work to be exact). You will need very different statements of purpose and very different writing samples if you hope to stand a chance. I agree with the above posters that you will probably have no chance getting admitted to art history PhD programs if you don't submit a writing sample that is clearly in the field of art history. You also run the risk of spreading yourself to thin by applying to PhD programs in two disciplines. I lucked out (and was in a very peculiar situation that made applying in both disciplines make sense), but I don't think I know anyone else who has tried, let alone been successful at the tact I took. 

Furthermore, I share @Bronte1985's concern about applying to PhD programs in philosophy if you want to work in a museum. Humanities PhDs in general, and philosophy PhDs in particular, are by and large vocational degrees. They train you to be professor (and there are very few tenure track positions, as I'm sure you know). If you don't want to be a philosophy professor, it very rarely makes sense to pursue a PhD in philosophy. Art History PhDs are somewhat of an exception to this, in that they do allow for a transition to a museum career.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I appreciate all of your feedback. I did decide to use an art history paper, but I am moving forward with applying to both Philosophy and Art History. I am hoping it will work out like it did for Glasperlenspieler and the admissions decisions will help me decide. And all of you are right, it has been twice as much work!

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