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Columbia Art History MA vs NYU Costume Studies MA


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I got into both of my dream programs, but am SO torn. End game I want to work at the Costume Institute at the Met or the Victoria & Albert, but I, not sure which program to choose.

My research deals with 18th and 19th century women’s clothing in western Europe and I always thought of art history as a way to study the documentation of fashion, so I was super set on NYU’s program so I could dig deeper into researching the actual clothing and the semiotics of it. I am torn though because Columbia is so prestigious I feel like even though I wouldn’t directly study fashion it would still open a lot of doors for me. Would costume studies box me in too much? Or would art history box me in as well and keep me from transitioning to costume studies? I am at Columbia right now taking art history through their school of professional studies, and have a class with my MA supervisor and I do really like her, she is very knowledgeable and kind, however I do find her a bit difficult to communicate with but that could also be Zoom. My supervisor at NYU seems very lovely and knowledgeable as well, I feel like we would get along on a personal level too. 
I am SO torn and didn’t expect to get into Columbia so feeling lost! Any help appreciated!

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It's a tough choice. At Columbia, you could work with Higonnet. I'm just sharing something below I've posted about Columbia in general, but I'm in art history, so perhaps it's most relevant for you. I know these things are a a mix of crazy excitement and anxiety about making the right decision! If you're currently at CU you (hopefully) know all about the strike. As a prospect, you could contact the admins (see below) to express your concern about how they treat grad students, if you are considering becoming one! Good luck choosing!

 

Not trying to be a downer, but something to consider if anyone is thinking about Columbia:

Among your choices, you should also consider which programs have a grad worker union AND treat grad students right. I am a current 2nd year PhD student at Columbia. The majority of grad students are currently on strike for a living wage, better healthcare, and protection from harassment and discrimination. I have been watching the process of our new graduate union try to bargain for our first contract for over two years. In these sessions, I have seen admin (and their sleazy lawyer, who charges $1,500/hr) do everything possible to stall negotiations, belittle us, and play down heartfelt testimonials that make clear why our demands are reasonable and necessary. Every time we've gotten a raise in the past, our Columbia rent magically goes up by a higher percentage. Our wages are not enough to live in NYC. There is no dental or vision coverage, and they recently removed the better health insurance plan option. The school has a terrible history with harassment and discrimination cases brought by both undergrads and grads (Google it), and at the moment they are doing everything possible to avoid meeting our contract demand about changing the investigation process to give more rights to the complainant (see link below). 

We're entering the 3rd week of the strike, and Columbia has made very clear that they plan to not only doc our bi-weekly pay (which we receive for TA/RA work), but our academic stipends--yep, they are going to debit our student accounts, thereby jeopardizing course registration, degree progress, visas, and health insurance. We have a legal right to strike, but this later action constitutes illegal academic retaliation.

Long story short: I'm sure a lot of schools are as corrupt as Columbia, but I've just seen first hand how rotten this place is to the core. They only care about profit (their endowment grew $300 million during the pandemic alone), squeezing as much our of grad workers and adjuncts for as little pay as possible, sweeping bad press under the rug, and gentrifying Harlem with multi-million dollar campus expansions.

I encourage folks thinking about attending/applying to Columbia to express concerns to department chairs and administrators, and ask them why they insist on denying grad workers a fair contract: 

 

https://gothamist.com/news/columbia-grad-students-strike-over-wages-and-harassment-policies-nyu-counterparts-vote-similar-actions

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