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B.A. --> top-ranked PhD: what are my chances?


Beek2023
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Not sure where to post this so I posted it here and Q&A  (please let me know if that's not allowed!)

I graduated with a B.A. in History (Art history minor) in 2020, and am interested in going right to a PhD in 2023. The long-term goal is a museum curatorial career.

For a little background info, I went to an Ivy League undergrad and my GPA was 3.93. In terms of research experience, I did original archival research in early American history from sophomore fall to when I graduated as part of an independent research group; I published a paper on 20th century nationalism in an undergraduate history journal; and I wrote an honors thesis in History on modern art and national identity. After I graduated, I completed a fellowship at a museum that resulted in a research paper and a talk at the museum. I have spoken casually at a few conferences on my early American research, and besides the undergrad journal I will soon have an exhibition catalogue to put on my C.V. from my fellowship (I secured the image rights). Now, I'm working at an entry-level Communications position at a small museum. I also won a few prizes for my research/writing in undergrad and was part of a small undergraduate research forum.

That all being said, what do you think are my chances of getting into a top-ranked Art History PhD program with just a B.A. (and a B.A. in History to boot)? I'm looking mostly at Ivy Leagues so far (Yale is a top choice). While I'm also interested in state schools, all the ones I've looked at say a Master's is required for admission.

Any advice is super appreciated. I don't really have anyone in my life who's gotten a PhD (besides old, busy college professors) so I'm a little lost. Thank you so much in advance!

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First off, not all professors are "old"! 😀 And even if they are, it doesn't preclude them from being great sources of advice on your grad school prospects. And when you really think about it, they're probably the best source since they know you as a person and an emerging scholar, unlike any of us strangers here on the wild old web—though your stats sound impressive. Profs also may be busy, but busy with a job whose official duties include advising students on matters that you're asking about here. They'll be the ones writing what some think (debatably) is the most important part of your app, the letters of recommendation, which will be read by prospective advisors, people whom your current profs will very likely know as colleagues or even friends. 

As to your actual question, apply to a mix of (funded) MA and PhD programs and see what happens. Many forum users have done so in the past and the results can be surprising. I wouldn't worry about your majoring in history, but a writing sample that's heavy on art history is better, and one that demonstrates your desired focus as a future doctoral student is best.

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21 hours ago, Brooke2023 said:

Not sure where to post this so I posted it here and Q&A  (please let me know if that's not allowed!)

I graduated with a B.A. in History (Art history minor) in 2020, and am interested in going right to a PhD in 2023. The long-term goal is a museum curatorial career.

For a little background info, I went to an Ivy League undergrad and my GPA was 3.93. In terms of research experience, I did original archival research in early American history from sophomore fall to when I graduated as part of an independent research group; I published a paper on 20th century nationalism in an undergraduate history journal; and I wrote an honors thesis in History on modern art and national identity. After I graduated, I completed a fellowship at a museum that resulted in a research paper and a talk at the museum. I have spoken casually at a few conferences on my early American research, and besides the undergrad journal I will soon have an exhibition catalogue to put on my C.V. from my fellowship (I secured the image rights). Now, I'm working at an entry-level Communications position at a small museum. I also won a few prizes for my research/writing in undergrad and was part of a small undergraduate research forum.

That all being said, what do you think are my chances of getting into a top-ranked Art History PhD program with just a B.A. (and a B.A. in History to boot)? I'm looking mostly at Ivy Leagues so far (Yale is a top choice). While I'm also interested in state schools, all the ones I've looked at say a Master's is required for admission.

Any advice is super appreciated. I don't really have anyone in my life who's gotten a PhD (besides old, busy college professors) so I'm a little lost. Thank you so much in advance!

If you can produce a good writing sample and statement of purpose, you probably have a good shot. Your background is, honestly, very impressive.

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