Jump to content

grad school selection assistance


danimacg

Recommended Posts

hello,

i am new to grad cafe and have just spent my daughters' nap (3+ hrs) researching graduate art history and museum studies options and programs.

I am a ba graduate in history and art, gpa over 3.5, I have children and museum experience post grad in development and recently became a docent for a popular museum. (yes i am 30years junior of all of the docent corps)

once my children are in primary school i would like to continue my education and I am currently researching options.

I did take the gre (with poor scores) about 3 years ago while my husband and I were attempting to relocate to seattle. Thankfully i wasnt admitted and instead found out we were expecting our first daughter the week after I took the test.

I would REALLY like to avoid taking/ submitting GRE scores again. I am a horrible test taker (as I see many art history graduate students are)

does anyone know of any accredited universities that offer a graduate art history degree without requiring GRE's? Does this exist?

thank you and best of luck to all the art history scholars!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you looking for terminal MA programs, or PhD programs? I know Cal State Long Beach does not require the GRE, but it is a terminal MA program and also a very small department, so depending on what you want to work on, it may or may not work. I also don't think they have much (if any) funding.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you looking for terminal MA programs, or PhD programs? I know Cal State Long Beach does not require the GRE, but it is a terminal MA program and also a very small department, so depending on what you want to work on, it may or may not work. I also don't think they have much (if any) funding.

this is what I feared, no gre requirement = underfunded and failing program...

Ultimately, i would love to teach at the collegiate level but realize with two small children this would be a pipe dream until they are independent.

Thank you for your feed back,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just take a good prep course and do the GRE over again. If you're not committed enough to do even that, then you're not committed enough to be successful in graduate school.

Easy as that, huh? I think that if I was primarily responsible for taking care of two toddlers, and working as a museum docent, it would be very challenging for me to invest the time necessary to prepare for and take the GRE, let alone the new GRE! Moreover, not everyone has the means to afford "a good prep course;" both Kaplan and Princeton Review charge a small fortune for their respective GRE prep courses. 

 

Danimacg, given your situation, you certainly do not come across as uncommitted, and I think you're making a sensible decision in waiting for when your children are enrolled in primary school before you pursue graduate studies. However, as much as you dislike the GREs (I also loath them), I think it is wise to invest in GRE review books and work through them at your convenience. When you feel comfortable enough with the material, then register for the exam. Even if you do not perform well on it, at least admissions committees will see you're making a concerted and recurrent effort to improve your scores. I wish I could say, "The GRE doesn't matter," but in truth, some programs weigh it more than others. My scores are rather marginal, and I personally believe the Prometric testing centers where I took the GRE offer a rather unfriendly and uncomfortable environment for test-takers. Nonetheless, I am currently studying for the exam again, and I do hope to do better the next time I take it. 

 

In regards to accredited schools that do not require the GRE for acceptance into an Art History MA program, CUNY Queens sounds like it may be a good fit for you. UMass-Amherst also has a terminal MA program in Art History, and the program is one of the few that I am familiar with that is publicly funded. Yet, I am almost positive U-Mass Amherst requires the GRE for admission: http://www.umass.edu/arthist/ . University of British Columbia and University of Toronto are both excellent universities, and neither require the GRE for admission since they are both Canadian schools, so perhaps you should investigate those two institutions even though they're a bit further away from you. 

 

I just want to point out that losemygrip is well intentioned, but sometimes has a tendency to sound curt and harsh. When he/she wrote, "If you're not committed enough to do even that..." I think he/she was using "you're" generally, and probably didn't mean to address just you, Danimacg. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with losemygrip on this one, and shame on you kunstgesichtedude (my vote for most pretentious/twee username on the art history forum btw, not to mention that it's "kunstgeschichte" with two "h"s) for being so patronizing to losemygrip.  Taking the GRE is one of the first, but by no means most significant, challenges a prospective art historian will face during graduate school and a career in academia or museums. If taking tests is such an obstacle now, how is sitting for comps and orals going to be? Any online research, including on these forums, would make it clear that the programs promising the best chances of career placement require the GRE. To ask whether there are any which don't suggests that getting into a top whatever program may not be that important to the OP, perhaps indicating a lack of seriousness or at least of the work it takes to become a PhD in art history. As a working art historian, losemygrip is on the other side of those challenges and I respect her advice. 

 

Along with willingness to take the GRE, I hope the OP might ask herself whether she and her family are willing to relocate for grad school, she can spend significant time away from her family on research trips/fellowships, and then relocate again (perhaps many times) during a career as an art historian?  If the answers to these questions are "no", I would advise that she get a MA from whatever school in her area grants them and then pursue teaching at the community college level or seek work as a curatorial assistant/curator at a regional museum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also have to agree with losemygrip and anonymousbequest.

OP, I am not sure how you got the impression that art history students are not good test takers. If the GRE is an obstacle for you (or any other applicants) I honestly don't see grad school as a good option. The GRE is the easiest test I have taken since my sophomore year of undergrad and nothing compared to grad work. Especially for a student who wants to get a phd in the humanities, the verbal section should be a walk in the park. You will not enjoy reading essays on visual semiotics, translations of Riegel, or taking quals if you find the GRE insurmountable.

If an aplicant has a disablity that makes taking the standard GRE impossible, there are always ways to get accommodations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's not carried away here. The GRE is important, but it's not that important in the grand scheme of things. It's hardly representative of the kind of work one does in grad school, and, of all the parts of a student's application, it's probably weighed the least by admissions committees. And hey, some people are just bad test takers! A phd in art history is a big commitment, but *and maybe it's just me* there seems to be some condescension towards this woman because she has a child. I'm not a woman, nor do I have children, but I do know women with children face quite a bit of discrimination in academia. Let's not encourage that here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think it's descrimination because she's a woman or a mother. To have a family of any kind (children, spouse, etc.) adds another dimension to this process and it's important before one embarks on the application process that all of these things have been considered. Also, if one is a poor test taker, the GRE may seem insurmountable. The OP never specified what she hoped to achieve in her career aside from teaching at the collegiate level, so to jump to "grad school isn't for you" isn't fair. Maybe her end goal is to teach at the community college level. If that is the case, there is nothing wrong with looking for programs that do not require the GRE.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

The University of New Mexico doesn't require the GRE. Don't know what your field is, but if it is Latin American or Native American, it's one of the best programs. They don't have a ton of money to throw around, but it's not a failing program by any stretch of the imagination. Their students have been awarded national fellowships for diss research, and their graduates have secured faculty/museum positions. I have a young child, and it's true that people are not particularly amused that you have other commitments, even if your presence at certain events has no impact whatsoever on your studies. I have taken Women's Studies classes where the professors were just, meh, bring your kid to the guest lecture, no big deal. Art History people not so much. I have met 2 Art History professors at my current PhD program (not UNM) who are very understanding/tolerant/actually want to see my kid, the rest are impatient and sometimes hostile if I can't t.a. a class at night or some such. (Granted these same people are kind of assholes in general...) I don't expect anyone to be interested in me being a mom or in being anywhere near my kid, this is a separate existence, but I can't go to as many conferences, can't attend certain events past a particular time of the evening, etc. and that's something that has to be factored in. And if my faculty don't like it, well that's too bad. I'm not the first parent to be there, I won't be the last. Grad school with kids is a whole different ball game, and I would suggest that you might benefit from speaking with people who have some. If you find a program that you are particularly interested in, I would contact the grad coordinator or dept secretary/admin and ask if there are any grad students there who are parents with whom you can correspond. Feel free to pm me if you have any questions that maybe I could answer. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a reality check: The highly-ranked institution where I teach requires the GRE, but I don't look at GRE scores when I read applications. Especially now that we see the file in an online document reader, and not a hard copy where it's all in front of you, it's REALLY easy to skip those pages (which include the pages where you list your many internships, etc., fwiw) and zero in on the WS, SOP, grades, and letters, in approximately that order. I think many of my colleagues do the same. I say this as someone who got a perfect score on my own GREs. I haven't figured out what the new numbers mean and I don't really care. The test has little to do with success in grad school. If you're not good at taking that kind of test, don't despair, because if your application reviewers are like me, it might not have much of an impact on your chances. But DO study for it and take it again and DO apply to schools that require it. You really start off at a disadvantage if you apply only to places that don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two things: Purchase College does not require the GRE.  It is a great program for early-modern and forward and has a more curatorial emphasis so it would fit well with the museum studies path you would like to take.

 

The second thing is that I had bronchitis when I took my GRE, but as I graduated in fall rather than spring and have to travel 4 hours to my closest testing center, there was no time to retake and meet deadlines.  I scored barely over 300, but I did get a 5 on my written portion.  I only applied to 6 programs because I know exactly what it is I want and would rather wait for the right program than take a spot at one which does not fit my needs.  I was soooo sure I wouldnt be accepted anywhere because I didnt vary my options enough and didnt have the scores to get into the programs I want.  So far Ive heard from 4 schools, all 4 were acceptances, one with funding even though I didnt ask for it.  So, even with the worst possible GRE scores I would still apply and see where it gets you, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why must there always be an undercurrent of pretentiousness and contempt in some of these posts? People come here for advice and camaraderie. Is it really necessary to make a jab at someone just because they express an opinion with which you disagree? I've worked in museums for more than 18 years, and the first thing you learn is the value of diplomacy and tact. Good luck successfully navigating that environment until you master those skills.

 

As for the OP: I have a BA in art history and have worked in three major art museums since graduation. I decided to apply for a terminal master's, even if that meant paying for it myself. I'm fortunate to have the means to do so, and I want it that bad. I've been reluctant to apply until now, because based on my experience working in academia (I also work frequently with scholars outside of museums), I wasn't sure that art history programs would be interested in someone like me. Even though I have a wealth of experience and have worked with some of the greatest scholars in the field, I'm not interested in becoming a professor. I'm just passionate about the study of art history, and I want to expand on that knowledge, as I think it would benefit my long-term career goals in an art museum. Many of my colleagues, curators and professors alike, encouraged me to apply in any case. My GRE scores were good, my recs were outstanding, my writing samples were great, my experience should have been a bonus. However, I was rejected from three of the four programs to which I applied (I'm waiting to hear from the fourth). I suspect that art history programs, even terminal master's programs, aren't interested in someone who has no plans to pursue a PhD (short-sighted in my opinion, as not all of us working in the field want to be professors or curators). I'm sure there are more than a few regulars on these boards who'd be happy to correct me if I'm wrong. I don't want to discourage you from pursuing your dream. (I've long wanted to pursue a master's in art history myself.) However, I think it's a good thing to be realistic about your options/expectations. I knew what I was getting into when I applied, but I was hopeful that at least one program would find me attractive based on my experience, etc.

 

I was accepted into many an arts administration program, but I'd rather spend my time and money studying art history. I suggest that you look into other programs like museums studies, etc. That might lead you in an unexpected direction.

 

As for children, I personally don't have any; however, you wouldn't be the first person with kids to go back to grad school. Don't let that stop you from going for it. Getting accepted into a program is the hard part. After that, who cares what the faculty thinks about your personal life.

 

I hated the GREs, too. I did fabulously on the Verbal and Writing sections, and OK on the Math (surprise). In my opinion, standardized tests are meaningless as a gauge for academic potential; however, they are necessary for most programs. If you do decide to apply to art history programs, they'll most likely be looking at your Verbal and Writing scores. I'd study extra hard for those sections and make sure you meet the requirements of the program to which you are applying. A lot of them specifically state minimums. BTW, I'm finding it difficult to understand the correlation, as stated above, between GRE performance and scholarly study. Really? Seems like a stretch to me, especially if the rest of your application (i.e., writing samples) demonstrates an ability to research, write, think critically. I don't see how GRE scores can convey something like that.

Edited by ryree2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ditto solus, I was very nervous about my applications with my GRE scores being what they were (5 in writing, good verbal... and math in the 17th percentile, literally), but I've been admitted and funded by five schools that I would be very happy to attend.  I feel really confident now that for the most part, art history faculty reading applications don't look too carefully at those numbers (like arthistoryvoe2 said), and realize that they have little to say about how you would actually perform in as a graduate student and scholar.  Looking at this board throughout my application process was discouraging and made me feel like I was worthless and that my application wouldn't be considered because of the limitations of my geometry skills, so I wanted to pass along my experience in hopes that people might learn to chill out about the GRE scores, and focus on the things that really do matter (SOP, fabulous writing sample, and in some cases good contact with faculty ahead of time!). Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure if you are speaking about what I said, but I suspect you might be in part, so: I do not suggest that anyone should care about what faculty think about your life outside of school. However, one should be aware that they may be less than accommodating if they are informed that you can't participate in something or are unable to do something they would like you to do. That's not negative or pretentious, that's reality. Unlike a 9-5, there are some things that go on in a dept that go well past that hour, and it can be hard to juggle expectations.The easiest part of graduate school is the work, it's dealing with the people that is difficult. If I didn't think people who have kids can kick ass in grad school, then I wouldn't be attending.  Of course I think a parent can be successful in a doctoral program, I am. And there are several people in my department who have families and are the better students in their class. And if you don't have kids, I wouldn't be so quick to criticize when people who do offer suggestions or their impressions of the experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second people here... I am not in grad school yet, but I am in a similar situation also. I am a single parent of a child afflicted with a severe non-curable degenerative and rare disease, so I understand the difficulties of getting organized to go to graduate school.  We need to take into account many more variables than most people here understand. I ABSOLUTELY sympathize with you.

 

With that in mind, I think you might need to think [even more] about why you want to go to grad school.  Even without experience, I know that grad school will take up a lot of your time and will require an insurmountable amount of effort and dedication from you.  So my questions to you are: Can you do that? Do you have that to offer?  I am confident you have the will and drive to do it, but CAN YOU really do it?  I continue to ask myself this question, and am more and more convinced that I can and will.

 

I do not think that your unwillingness to retake the GRE bespeaks your intellectual readiness to take on the challenge. I do, however, question if you are ready [psychologically and time-wise] for it since you cannot even study for the GRE.  I recently bought a Princeton Review book and it cost me under $20.00, so I think you are likely to afford one [i don't know your financial situation well enough though].  After that, just set up a study schedule and stick to it.  Unlike many people here, I do not have the luxury of cramming for the test as I am busy with my daughter, work and school (still) for long periods of time, so I have to sparse out my efforts and have a lot of self-discipline to stick with a study program.  YOU CAN DO IT!  Go for it, if you really want this.

 

We will likely need to make more sacrifices than most people but it can be done. It has been done before, and I know many people who are in the middle of it right now.  They say it's VERY hard, but also very rewarding.  If this is your dream, as it is certainly mine, we should be willing to do whatever it takes. 

 

Please feel free to PM at anytime if you would like to talk more about this.  I have found reassuring to meet and talk with people that is going or have gone through similar situations.

 

The bottom line: don't rule yourself out of great programs just because of the GRE.

Edited by brazilianbuddy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why must there always be an undercurrent of pretentiousness and contempt in some of these posts? People come here for advice and camaraderie. Is it really necessary to make a jab at someone just because they express an opinion with which you disagree? I've worked in museums for more than 18 years, and the first thing you learn is the value of diplomacy and tact. Good luck successfully navigating that environment until you master those skills.

 

As for the OP: I have a BA in art history and have worked in three major art museums since graduation. I decided to apply for a terminal master's, even if that meant paying for it myself. I'm fortunate to have the means to do so, and I want it that bad. I've been reluctant to apply until now, because based on my experience working in academia (I also work frequently with scholars outside of museums), I wasn't sure that art history programs would be interested in someone like me. Even though I have a wealth of experience and have worked with some of the greatest scholars in the field, I'm not interested in becoming a professor. I'm just passionate about the study of art history, and I want to expand on that knowledge, as I think it would benefit my long-term career goals in an art museum. Many of my colleagues, curators and professors alike, encouraged me to apply in any case. My GRE scores were good, my recs were outstanding, my writing samples were great, my experience should have been a bonus. However, I was rejected from three of the four programs to which I applied (I'm waiting to hear from the fourth). I suspect that art history programs, even terminal master's programs, aren't interested in someone who has no plans to pursue a PhD (short-sighted in my opinion, as not all of us working in the field want to be professors or curators). I'm sure there are more than a few regulars on these boards who'd be happy to correct me if I'm wrong. I don't want to discourage you from pursuing your dream. (I've long wanted to pursue a master's in art history myself.) However, I think it's a good thing to be realistic about your options/expectations. I knew what I was getting into when I applied, but I was hopeful that at least one program would find me attractive based on my experience, etc.

 

I was accepted into many an arts administration program, but I'd rather spend my time and money studying art history. I suggest that you look into other programs like museums studies, etc. That might lead you in an unexpected direction.

 

As for children, I personally don't have any; however, you wouldn't be the first person with kids to go back to grad school. Don't let that stop you from going for it. Getting accepted into a program is the hard part. After that, who cares what the faculty thinks about your personal life.

 

I hated the GREs, too. I did fabulously on the Verbal and Writing sections, and OK on the Math (surprise). In my opinion, standardized tests are meaningless as a gauge for academic potential; however, they are necessary for most programs. If you do decide to apply to art history programs, they'll most likely be looking at your Verbal and Writing scores. I'd study extra hard for those sections and make sure you meet the requirements of the program to which you are applying. A lot of them specifically state minimums. BTW, I'm finding it difficult to understand the correlation, as stated above, between GRE performance and scholarly study. Really? Seems like a stretch to me, especially if the rest of your application (i.e., writing samples) demonstrates an ability to research, write, think critically. I don't see how GRE scores can convey something like that.

 

Im sorry to hear that...  Shouldnt wanting to study art history simply for the love of it mean more than wanting the piece of paper for a sepcific career goal?  I hope you get into a great program you can love!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BTW, I'm finding it difficult to understand the correlation, as stated above, between GRE performance and scholarly study. Really? Seems like a stretch to me, especially if the rest of your application (i.e., writing samples) demonstrates an ability to research, write, think critically. I don't see how GRE scores can convey something like that.

 

Maybe this is controversial, but I truly believe that if someone can't get a "good" score (not a perfect score, but about 80%+) on the critical reading portion of the GRE they probably will not do well in grad school. That portion of the test should be extremely easy for someone who wants to study humanities at a graduate level. If it isn't, I would honestly question that person's ability to perform at a high level in graduate seminars. The GRE readings are significantly easier than the reading I am assigned in seminar. 

 

Obviously this does not stand for non-native speakers or persons with learning disabilities/anxiety that make standardized testing more difficult.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im sorry to hear that...  Shouldnt wanting to study art history simply for the love of it mean more than wanting the piece of paper for a sepcific career goal?  I hope you get into a great program you can love!

 

Are you serious? Grad school is not intended for hobbyists, its intent is to train scholars so that they can get a credential to obtain a job. Don't romanticize it. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im sorry to hear that...  Shouldnt wanting to study art history simply for the love of it mean more than wanting the piece of paper for a sepcific career goal?  I hope you get into a great program you can love!

 

It should be a given that we're pretty into art history if we're putting ourselves through this soul-sucking, exhausting, expensive gauntlet. Grad school is about career preparation and intense training in the field, unless you're so rich that you don't have to think about what you're going to do once you've got an MA or a PhD.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe this is controversial, but I truly believe that if someone can't get a "good" score (not a perfect score, but about 80%+) on the critical reading portion of the GRE they probably will not do well in grad school. That portion of the test should be extremely easy for someone who wants to study humanities at a graduate level. If it isn't, I would honestly question that person's ability to perform at a high level in graduate seminars. The GRE readings are significantly easier than the reading I am assigned in seminar. 

 

Obviously this does not stand for non-native speakers or persons with learning disabilities/anxiety that make standardized testing more difficult.  

I disagree only because the GRE passages do not permit one the time to read deeply. However, I'm biased since I did not score about an 80% or higher; I received somewhere around 60% (yikes!). What is interesting to me is that I did very well with the readings in the Princeton Review book since I had time to sit down with them, and most of my answers were correct, unfortunately I went well over the 30 minutes.

 

While you're entitled to your opinions, I don't think I would have been accepted into any grad programs had it not been for my writing sample, SOP, LORs, and the strength of my undergraduate curriculum, particularly in my last two years of study. My math scores were also horrible (18%) and my AW section was a deplorable 4.00, nonetheless, I was offered admission to four funded MA programs (which also offer PhDs) with tuition waivers, as well as two Ph.D. programs.

 

Maybe there is a correlation, and maybe there isn't, but I will gladly keep you and the gradcafe community posted as to my progress and performance in whichever program I plan to attend! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use