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BFA in Wigs to MA in Art History?


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Hello. Hopefully this is the right place to post a request for help. I graduate from college in 2019 with a BFA in Design and Production with a 3.66 gpa. I went to a conservatory so we had concentrations of studies within our degree programs and mine was Wig and Makeup Design. Because of the way the program is setup you focus on perfecting your art concentration and only art skills relevant to your concentration. I loved my program and I cherish the four years I got to spend with amazing friends and great teachers, however doing a job I decided would be fun when I was 17 isn't realistic anymore. 

Career satisfaction is something that is very important to me and I want to spend my time in service of others. I've been toying (read: really obsessed with and desperately want) with the idea of going back to school and getting my Masters in Art History and Masters of Library Science. Hopefully having the opportunity to work in Libraries or Museums sharing and preserving art and information. I only have two programs that I'm considering applying: one is the dream the other a safety both at 2 different public universities in my state. 

I've been applying to a lot of entry level jobs in galleries, libraries, and other related spaces and I've been consistently rejected. I was hoping to get some practical experience to learn more about the field (to make sure I like it) and make myself into an appealing applicant but it's been a bit of a bust. Any apprenticeship/ postbaccs that are geared towards career changers? 

I'm a first gen college student. I navigated applications for undergrad and paying for it on my own. I don't have any resources for graduate school admissions and am just looking for some help. I'm not very sure what the right questions are to ask you guys to answer. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks

TL;DR 23 y/o Wig and Makeup Design college grad looking to transition careers and go to grad school for Art History and MLIS. Hopes to work in libraries/museums. Limited to no experience in the field and looking for advice on applications and or life if you're feeling spicy.

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I’m 26 and have a BFA in studio art and am applying for my MA in Art History. A lot of programs don’t require you to have a BA in art history, some suggest you have x amount of art history credits (usually ~5 classes) which you can take postbacc. I emailed all the schools I was applying to for my MA and asked if they had post bacc or diploma courses I could take, only a few did but I ended up in one of those programs for the semester. The local university in my city also offered post bacc art history but I unfortunately missed their deadline, so I am currently in a post bacc program at Columbia.

I would suggest emailing the MA/MLIS programs you’re interested in applying to and asking what they require/suggest because, as I found out, this is very common!

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An internship or volunteer position in a museum would help you gain experience and become a better candidate for paying roles. Unfortunately most internships are unpaid, which sucks, but it's really difficult to break into the museum career world without some kind of low-level experience. Also look into Master's programs in Museum Studies along with the Art History and MLIS degrees you've already been researching. 

Lastly, I would say use your experience to your advantage. Don't discount your BFA as being off-topic; instead, emphasize the overlap. If you want to gain experience, try to apply to museums/galleries that have at least some relevance to the work you did in your BFA. That is, you'll have more success finding a role at a design or fashion museum than an archaeology museum. Good luck!!

Edited by RomeSweetRome
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Thank you both for responding!

I've been doing a lot of research and there's a post-bacc program that I'm interested in with an application date thats only a month away so I'm going to try to get everything together to apply. I don't have a lot of writing samples to choose from so tweaking what I have is probably going to be my biggest hurdle. 

Anybody got advice on writing a statement of purpose?

Unfortunately there aren't any official programs in my home state, but after sending out some inquiries I got responses that encouraged enrolling as a non degree seeking student and taking a few courses before trying to apply next year, so I have a backup plan. 

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Good luck with the post-bac! I worked with a professor who told me this statement of purpose format, and it worked for me getting into grad school:

1) introduce yourself with all of your biggest academic accomplishments/experiences - try to impress them right off the bat to grab their interest and distinguish yourself from other candidates. What makes you unique and/or accomplished? (1 paragraph)

2) Explain your research/academic interests. (2 paragraphs)

3) Go more in-depth about an impactful experience that relates to those research interests. Ex. for my PhD app I talked about writing my MA thesis, for you it might be your fave project in undergrad that has transferable skills. (1 paragraph)

4) Tell why you want to go there - list professors you want to work with, resources you want to take advantage of, how you're a good fit, etc. The more specific, the better! Read everything on their website and reach out to professors; they'll usually mention specific resources that relate to you. (2 paragraphs, I do 1 for faculty and 1 for resources)

5) Super concise conclusion (3-4 sentences)

In all, mine was about a page and a half single-spaced, assuming they don't specify a page length/word count. Obviously there's no one right way to do things, so this can be tweaked how you see fit. Hope this helps!

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19 hours ago, RomeSweetRome said:

Good luck with the post-bac! I worked with a professor who told me this statement of purpose format, and it worked for me getting into grad school:

1) introduce yourself with all of your biggest academic accomplishments/experiences - try to impress them right off the bat to grab their interest and distinguish yourself from other candidates. What makes you unique and/or accomplished? (1 paragraph)

2) Explain your research/academic interests. (2 paragraphs)

3) Go more in-depth about an impactful experience that relates to those research interests. Ex. for my PhD app I talked about writing my MA thesis, for you it might be your fave project in undergrad that has transferable skills. (1 paragraph)

4) Tell why you want to go there - list professors you want to work with, resources you want to take advantage of, how you're a good fit, etc. The more specific, the better! Read everything on their website and reach out to professors; they'll usually mention specific resources that relate to you. (2 paragraphs, I do 1 for faculty and 1 for resources)

5) Super concise conclusion (3-4 sentences)

In all, mine was about a page and a half single-spaced, assuming they don't specify a page length/word count. Obviously there's no one right way to do things, so this can be tweaked how you see fit. Hope this helps!

Thank you so much! You're an actual angel.

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Absolutely! I went to art school and graduated with a BFA, explored other paths and then am now in an art history MA program. Your experience in the art world through this program will set you apart, use it to your advantage. it is especially helpful if you are interested in learning more about costume/textile/fashion/conservation components. I would recommend trying to do some kind of internship or volunteer position if you can, take the GRE and you are good to go! There are several art school grads in my MA art history program right now. Also have you looked into the NYU Costume Studies masters? looks super cool. Good luck!

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