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U Chicago MAPH - Equivalent to an MA in Art History?


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I recently struck out on my first round of PhD applications. I was wait listed at one of my top choices, but everyone accepted, so no room for me this year. Currently my only option is the MAPH at U Chicago with a half tuition scholarship. Now, I know there's a lot of information already up here on the MAPH, but I need to hear it from the art historians out there - would this really be equivalent to a MA in art history? Would I really be in a better position than I am now applying for the PhD next time around?

To figure out whether this is worth it for me, I probably should give some more information: I'm applying in Chinese art history, I did my undergrad at Columbia, I graduated with a 4.0 major GPA and a 3.85 overall GPA, I wrote a thesis as an undergrad based on original research I did in China, I worked as a curatorial assistant in a major East Asian art museum, I speak proficient Chinese and French. I wasn't an art history major as an undergrad, I was EALC... maybe that makes it harder?

My pride balks at considering going into debt to pay, even half, for an MA. If I had been smarter or more strategic, I would have applied to a few funded MA programs this time around, but sadly I didn't. So, the U Chicago consolation MAPH (with a half scholarship though... I dunno) is probably worth considering. Also, my POI will be on leave for 2 of the 3 quarters next year, so that's worth weighing too.

Thank you so much to anyone who weighs in! I am incredibly lost, I have no idea what to do about this. Option 2 is stay put, and apply again for the PhD next year, this time including funded MA programs in the mix.

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There are already some threads in this forum about the MAPH and I don't know much about it so I can't speak much to the quality of the program. However, it is a major red flag that our POI will only be there 2/3 quarters. Since it is only a one year program, there will be almost no time for your POI to get to know you. Also, you will have to apply again to PhD programs again next fall. Will your POI be there to write you a letter?

Your second option isn't that awful. In fact, it is really common. I struck out at all the PhD programs my first time around as well. I spent my gap year working on my languages, applied again to MA programs, and was accepted with some partially-funded offers. Now I'm finishing up my MA and had a really successful application round to PhD programs. I think many here on this board share similar stories.

In short, I've heard there are some great benefits to the MAPH program, however, the absence of your POI will be a serious detriment in applying again next year.

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I'd contact the faculty members at UChicago that you're interested in taking courses with, and make sure they're not on leave next year. Since MAPH is only one year long, that's always a risk.

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