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Art History MA Programs in Modern/Contemporary Art Advice? UPenn Art History?


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Hi All! I just discovered the forums here recently and have found the posts really helpful. I am planning to apply to MA programs in Art History for admission in Fall 2022. My interest is global modern/ contemporary art, with particular focus on post-war American art and modern/ contemporary East Asian art. I am interested in critical theory on race and gender, post-colonial studies, and philosophy of art. 

I have decided to apply to Masters instead of PhDs and doing research on grad schools in these months. I am primarily considering schools in the U.S. and realized that most of top schools only have PhDs and only a few offer MA.  So for now, I am considering Columbia (MODA), NYU IFA, Williams, and UChicago (MAPH but it's only one year ;( so don't know if it's a good idea). I am struggling in deciding whether I should also apply to UPenn, because I feel they don't have a lot of classes on modern/ contemporary art and theories (?) Although I see 2-3 faculty who have similar research interests that I would like to work with..  

I would really appreciate if anyone can give me some info about UPenn's program and any school/ application suggestions or just general advice !!

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Looking at their course offerings, there are a few this semester and next semester being offered that fit under the category of "modern and contemporary." You will likely take courses outside of your immediate field of research in an MA program, though. A big component of the degree is developing more advanced writing and research skills, especially if you look forward to pursuing a Ph.D. too, and working in an unfamiliar field can be helpful for this. As long as there are a couple of professors you could envision being your thesis advisor, then there is no harm in applying to UPenn. Also look at other 'lesser known' schools in the US. The College Art Association has a list of programs with MA and PhD offerings that can be useful. 

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On 10/4/2021 at 11:45 PM, FioY0122 said:

Hi All! I just discovered the forums here recently and have found the posts really helpful. I am planning to apply to MA programs in Art History for admission in Fall 2022. My interest is global modern/ contemporary art, with particular focus on post-war American art and modern/ contemporary East Asian art. I am interested in critical theory on race and gender, post-colonial studies, and philosophy of art. 

I have decided to apply to Masters instead of PhDs and doing research on grad schools in these months. I am primarily considering schools in the U.S. and realized that most of top schools only have PhDs and only a few offer MA.  So for now, I am considering Columbia (MODA), NYU IFA, Williams, and UChicago (MAPH but it's only one year ;( so don't know if it's a good idea). I am struggling in deciding whether I should also apply to UPenn, because I feel they don't have a lot of classes on modern/ contemporary art and theories (?) Although I see 2-3 faculty who have similar research interests that I would like to work with..  

I would really appreciate if anyone can give me some info about UPenn's program and any school/ application suggestions or just general advice !!

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I would STRONGLY STRONGLY suggest looking at Hunter College, CUNY. It was the only school I applied to, and has surpassed all of my highest expectations. I can tell you off the bat IFA for terminal MA is throwing your money into a trashcan and lighting it on fire. Outrageously expensive, and so much of the school's resources are geared toward PhD students. I know more about the IFA than UPenn, Columbia etc., as I did my undergraduate coursework at the DAH at NYU, but the little I have heard about many terminal master's programs are the same. You are not a PhD, so you are an opportunity for the school to collect funds. This is unfortunately the case with many graduate programs that offer a terminal master's in addition to PhD.

Hunter's faculty is near unsurpassed. (Emily Braun, Thierry de Duve, Romy Golan, Howard Singerman, Joachim Pissarro, just to name a few...) It is a large program, with a large swath of specialties, with a particular focus on post 1850 modernism. The fact that Hunter is separate program is also incredibly beneficial as it has a close relationship with the PhD program at the Graduate Center, but they are different departments in different schools, which gives the MA's at Hunter far more attention. The close relationship as well with the MA/MFA's is hugely beneficial as well. You're not getting the school "name" of NYU, Columbia or Penn, but I can tell you, across all of the biggest galleries, the Metropolitan, the Whitney, MoMA, etc. Hunter's reputation is just as good. And if you're by chance a NYS resident you're paying $17k for your ENTIRE degree, versus $45k a semester at the IFA. Feel free to reach out directly if you have any specific questions about the program.

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