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Top M.A. programs to lead to curatorial careers?


Beek2023
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Someone told me recently that the Williams/Clark program is the "gold standard" of MA programs if you want to become a curator (of historic/modern art) without a PhD. Does anyone know of any other cream-of-the-crop MA programs for those seeking curatorial careers? I have heard all about the "cash cow" programs like at UChicago, so now I'm wary of MA's in general. I'm primarily interested in pursuing a PhD, but just in case that doesn't work out I want to apply to a few strong MA programs as well. Thank you for any insight!

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20 hours ago, Beek2023 said:

Someone told me recently that the Williams/Clark program is the "gold standard" of MA programs if you want to become a curator (of historic/modern art) without a PhD. Does anyone know of any other cream-of-the-crop MA programs for those seeking curatorial careers? I have heard all about the "cash cow" programs like at UChicago, so now I'm wary of MA's in general. I'm primarily interested in pursuing a PhD, but just in case that doesn't work out I want to apply to a few strong MA programs as well. Thank you for any insight!

As far as I know Courtauld, Tufts, Hunter, University of Texas, Case Western Reserve are all good choices, especially for museum-related study. I would avoid programs like Columbia, NYU, etc., because of the “cash cow” status that you mentioned. There are probably others as well that other people can speak to. What type of art do you plan to study? That matters a lot as well. The most important thing is to go to a school that you can afford or that fully funds you. Most curatorial positions require a PhD, so if that’s your plan, it’s most important that you do really well in your MA program (whether it’s extremely prestigious or less so) and that you don’t leave with any debt.

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5 hours ago, millefleur97 said:

As far as I know Courtauld, Tufts, Hunter, University of Texas, Case Western Reserve are all good choices, especially for museum-related study. I would avoid programs like Columbia, NYU, etc., because of the “cash cow” status that you mentioned. There are probably others as well that other people can speak to. What type of art do you plan to study? That matters a lot as well. The most important thing is to go to a school that you can afford or that fully funds you. Most curatorial positions require a PhD, so if that’s your plan, it’s most important that you do really well in your MA program (whether it’s extremely prestigious or less so) and that you don’t leave with any debt.

My area of interest is european/American modernism. Thank you for the detailed response!  

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The days of becoming a curator with just an MA are largely over, no matter where you degree is from. It's still possible in contemporary art and at smaller regional museums, and I've heard of isolated cases where the curator had accumulated a lot of curatorial experience and published, but otherwise a PhD is pretty much a prerequisite now. 

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