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You have been accepted! Can you help us, PLEASE?


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First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to those who have already received marvelous news from a few schools.  Those who haven't heard yet, hang in there.  The game is not over.  Anyway...

 

Now that you have gotten some positive answers from schools, I was hoping you could help our poor hopefuls who will be applying next year by answering some pretty "vague" questions.  I do NOT mean to impinge on your privacy and anonymity so these questions are meant to be as superficial as you want them to be.  I am specially interested in those who have gotten in any of the following schools: Yale, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Princeton, Chicago, Northwestern, Brown, Columbia, UCLA, Wiliams (MA), Tufts (MA), NYU, CUNY, Duke, U Michigan, Cornell, UT Austin and Chapel Hill.  So here we go... 

 

 

1. Do you have a graduate degree?

 

2. Did you graduate from an Ivy league and/or a top art history program (undergrad, grad, or both)?

 

3. Did you contact the POI(s) of the schools you were accepted to ahead of time?  Email, phone and/or in person?

 

4. Did you have an interview?  if so, how many?

 

5. Was this your first time applying? If not, second or third?

 

6. Are all your offers fully funded?

 

7. How many offers have you gotten so far?

 

 

Thank you for taking the time!  All the best to all of you...  I hope our paths will cross one day.

 

 

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I've received a lot of help from the forum, and I'm willing to pay that forward. So, feel free to PM me for specific questions if you'd like, and I'd be happy to do what I can.

 

 

1. Do you have a graduate degree?

Yes, MA.

 

2. Did you graduate from an Ivy league and/or a top art history program (undergrad, grad, or both)?

Undergrad: Definitely not. Grad (MA): UChicago.

 

3. Did you contact the POI(s) of the schools you were accepted to ahead of time?  Email, phone and/or in person?

Yes. Email and phone.

 

4. Did you have an interview?  if so, how many?

No.

 

5. Was this your first time applying? If not, second or third?

Second.

 

6. Are all your offers fully funded?

Yes. (Isn't this the norm in Art History?)

 

7. How many offers have you gotten so far?

Two, and I'm waitlisted at another two. However, my interests are a bit interdisciplinary, and I'm waitlisted at Pittsburgh for English+Film Studies, and at USC for Critical Studies.

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I don't think you are asking the right questions. Two things that can get an applicant accepted at a top program are knowledge of unusual/difficult languages and interest in studying fields that aren't totally over saturated and thus get fewer applicants.

I don't want to give away specific details, but I know that a lot of the reason top schools are interested in me is because of my knowledge of an extremely difficult and unpopular language, and my more uncommon area of interest.

Top programs in more accessible fields like modern/contemporary or Renaissance are going to be harder to gain admission into, because the fields are flooded with hundreds, if not thousands of qualified applicants.

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1. I have a BA in Art History and English

2. Top public institution

3. I didn't contact a single POI

4. 2 interviews--one for an MA (Skype) and the other was a 3 min phone conversation with a POI

5. First time applying (but I've been researching the process for 2 yrs)

6. Yes.

7. 3 PhD offers, 1 wait list, 3 MA offers, and 1 rejection. Still waiting to hear back from 4 schools.

 

Feel free to PM me if you want to know any other details/ have any questions.

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@brazilianbuddy, I think that while these questions may allay your curiosity in giving an image of what the "successful applicant" looks like or went through, there is really little to be gleaned from these facts. The people I met at interviews and open houses come from such different backgrounds, ages, and places of origin that I believe we were all accepted for different reasons and judged under different expectations. To be trite, I think grad school apps are pretty much a crap shoot and there's no recipe for success.

 

I am applying as a senior from a small top 10 LAC as a non-art history major (only took three art history courses). I have done two curatorial internships, speak three languages, and published a few short stories for literary journals. I want to study contemporary art with approaches culled from political science and cultural studies. I probably belong more in an interdisciplinary humanities program given my background and interests, but I know my goal is to work in a museum, and an art history PhD is still the best path to go. Being aware that I am at a disadvantage in terms of preparation, I made sure to show in my writing sample that I could enter into a dialogue with theories in art historiography and with art historians, as well as do visual analysis and close readings of objects, as a good art history major should know. The topic or style of my writing sample is not at all reflective of what I plan on doing when I actually get in, but I wrote for an audience, and that audience is an admissions committee that is composed, inevitably, of a mix of faculty who have varying degrees of openness to non-traditional approaches to art history. My SOP, on the other hand, was directed to the faculty member I was interested in working with at each school, and there I let my quirky, interdisciplinary side show, knowing that I need to get that one professor to advocate for me in the admissions committee. So what can I say... be strategic? But that strategy is ultimately about making up for your weaknesses and letting yourself shine in the appropriate spaces, and only you can decide what that all means.

 

In the end, even those of us who got in can never be really sure why! The reason I got in might just be that they're graduating all of their contemporary art grad students this year and want several this year; it might be that the faculty member I applied to work with has been on a dry spell and hasn't accepted any new students for too long; it might be that my rec writer is a good friend with one of the professors and so his letter came to hold much more weight. All this is to say don't be too hard on yourself! Talent and preparation play a role, but so does chance, and I'm sure your turn will come around soon enough!

Edited by apotheosis
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First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to those who have already received marvelous news from a few schools.  Those who haven't heard yet, hang in there.  The game is not over.  Anyway...

 

Now that you have gotten some positive answers from schools, I was hoping you could help our poor hopefuls who will be applying next year by answering some pretty "vague" questions.  I do NOT mean to impinge on your privacy and anonymity so these questions are meant to be as superficial as you want them to be.  I am specially interested in those who have gotten in any of the following schools: Yale, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Princeton, Chicago, Northwestern, Brown, Columbia, UCLA, Wiliams (MA), Tufts (MA), NYU, CUNY, Duke, U Michigan, Cornell, UT Austin and Chapel Hill.  So here we go... 

 

I feel as if these these  questions are informative only to a certain point. I do not mean to be so critical, but after reviewing some of your posts, it seems to me that the hardest issue to comprehend is "fit" vs. measurable qualifications [ranking of undergraduate institution vs. # of application cycles vs. bachelor type , etc.].

 

One should not compare themselves to other applicants. Period. Especially in terms of why someone is getting in compared to you. As Flaneuse said, she researched the process for 2 years. I've research the process for 3 and I got into my top choice - which is, granted, not on your list but the reason I didn't apply to any of the schools on your list is because they do not have anyone who specializes in my area at all (except for Harvard, but I really did not like the POI's methodologies, and knew we'd clash.) 

 

There are a number of resources that are available at your school's library (or, at the very least, interlibrary loanable from your public library) that will help guide you through the process of applying to graduate school and how to determine a good fit. I heavily suggest you check them out, especially in terms of beginning the research process which you will inevitable deal with 150% of the time during your graduate career. 

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I agree that there is not a specific formula for getting accepted into the program of your dreams, but there are a few things (based on my experience and research) that will take your application to the next level and set you apart, especially if you study a popular subfield.

 

1. Submit your best piece of writing for the writing sample. It really doesn't have to be in your specific field of study. I was also told by a prof that if you are applying to work on modern or Renaissance, it can be beneficial to show you can critically think and write about a field other than your own specific one. 

 

2. I cannot stress how important the SOP is. I went through 23 drafts before I submitted mine and worked on it from September to December. Possibly a bit excessive, but it worked. 

 

3. GREs aren't really that important. (Not worth your tears or deepest anxieties). I aced the writing, did above average on the verbal, and basically failed the math. I'm just not a good standardized test taker. I've known this about myself for years and therefore knew that the rest of my application had to be nearly flawless to make up for this weakness.

 

Hope this helps! I would be overjoyed if I could add some insight on this crazy process that would help a fellow histart lover continue pursuing their dreams.

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Yes, every application is unique. Essentially, you need to show strength and innovation in your research topic and writing skills and you need to have a clear focus on what you want to do and why. This is why SOP and writing samples are so important.

 

While coming from an Ivy is not absolutely essential, it does add extra value to the application - so does coming from a well-respected non-Ivy school. For example, an application from U-Chicago will be reviewed with interest. But it doesn't guarantee selection in either case.

 

GRE doesn't matter in Art History - unless your verbal and writing scores are dismal. I know candidates with failed Quant score, just above average - but not poor - verbal and writing scores who got selected with funding on the strength of demonstrated research skills. 

 

While the writing sample doesn't have to be related to the expressed topic of interest, it is preferable if it is related to the area of Art History (in terms of cultural region and time-scale) in which the candidate wants to research. This is because Art History is so culture-specific across time and space, that it's almost like studying another discipline if one specializes in one area of Art History and is reading/writing a paper in another cultural region and/or time-scale.

 

Art Historical skills in one area don't easily transfer to another area. So, it may happen that if your writing sample doesn't gel with the interests of the faculty members reading it, they may quickly lose interest in your paper. Besides, by submitting a well-written writing sample in an area closely related to your expressed topic of interest, you also demonstrate that you have already done some work in this field and you are good at it.

 

One also has to keep in mind that in most schools, a distinction is made between History, Fine Art and Art History-Theory-and-Criticism and there are different departments or at least segments for the three kinds of study, although a correlation can be drawn between them. The methodologies used in the three disciplines vary to some extent.

 

If you are applying to an Art history Department, your research interests and methodology should draw from this discipline more than from the other two, although you can make it inter-disciplinary and use ideas from the other two as well - especially because Art has to be contextualized in its historical setting. But there has to be a primacy of Art History/Theory/Criticism over History or Fine Art in your research focus. Although the dividing line between these disciplines is blurred, but at some stage it is possible to see the divergences. 

Edited by Seeking
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^ Re the above, I would stress the importance of reading the department's own statement(s). For example, conventional wisdom is that the GRE is fairly inconsequential. However, take a look at this, quoted from Yale's website:

 

 

 

The GRE scores are significant because they can compensate for any divergency in the meaning of the same grade in different colleges.

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Hello guys...

 

Sorry for the long absence.  It was my last week in Paris and I was trying to cram in as many exhibitions as I possibly could. ;)  I see that there has been a thread of fruitful debate over my post - I appreciate that.  Instead of addressing anyone specifically I will attempt to explain my reasoning for the post.

 

First of all, I do understand the following:

1. There is no recipe to get in - in other words - the whole process is a crap shoot.

2. Every school is different, thus one never knows what each one is looking for in a given year.

3. People approach the process differently, so again, there is no formula.

4. Each one of you have unique traits that make you particularly attractive to certain schools.

 

Second of all, I also understand the mistakes I made this year (full disclosure):

1.  I did not put the amount of time and effort necessary to figure out the best fit (school, POIs, etc), except for two POIs;

2.  I wrote my SOP for one school, and changed "very little" for the other schools (I put all my eggs in one basket);

3. I took the GRE in the last minute, was very sick and didn't have the time to retake, resulting in a more than dismal score across the board (I think that alone eliminated me from the process in several schools);

4. My writing sample could be a little longer and better elaborated (this is already being addressed since I submitted an unfinished paper: my preliminary honors thesis - I hadn't even been to Paris yet to finish my research);

5. I did not emphasize my strengths well enough on my SOP, nor did I address my weaknesses appropriately either.

6. Though I studied art theory, I think my school didn't do a good enough job addressing current issues and trends (in fact, I don't think my professor knows what is going on in our field right now - I am very well versed in my subfield though since I did the work on my own) - I noticed how many of you are well versed and knowledgeable on the subject (which is why I think I could benefit from a masters).  I have also started to address this problem... reading, reading, reading, reading, and reading for the next several months.

 

Now... what I was hoping to get from my inquiry.  These questions were very vague for one reason, and one reason only: I wanted to see if there is some sort of trend/pattern for the more "global" questions I have.  Notice that I am not interested in GRE scores, GPAs, which school specifically you went to, etc.  This is really a very superficial attempt to identify any trend, if there is one.  I know that this is not big enough of a sample here to rely on, but as I am starting to prepare for the next application cycle and I am trying everything I can to get a better understanding of the process.

 

With all that being said, all your answers have been extremely helpful in trying to allay my curiosity and inform my action plan for next cycle- I truly and gratefully mean that.  Many of you have shared more than I was hoping to get here.

 

All the best!

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