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MA vs PhD

Mississippi Snow

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I understand this topic has become redundant, but I was accepted to two schools for their MA programs. One program offers only the terminal MA, while the other could continue on wards to the PhD. 


Application to the MA programs at both schools was determined on the likeliness of not being admitted to PhD programs (my grades, GRE, and lack of confidence in being considered a serious student were factors). 


Both schools are in highly metropolitan areas with both having great Modern and Contemporary Art programs, albeit the terminal MA program is located in the world's liveliest contemporary art locale. 


My future goals are aimed at researching and publishing about East Mediterranean Contemporary Art, specifically that of Türkiye and the Bosphore. Unfortunately, there are few schools -- if any -- with a focus on such an area. At both programs, I would like to show my seriousness and intent on attending a top 10, if not 5, Art History program. The PhD school is top 20. 


My question -- finally arriving -- is which would be the best school for continuing to the PhD level? Last to consider is that the terminal MA program does have a professor who focuses on Ottoman Architecture and "Middle Eastern" art, while the MA/PhD program has a renowned professor in Byzantine and Late Egyptian/Coptic art. 


Thanks so much for your time and any or all information y'all may have.


- a

Edited by mantovani
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Go with the terminal MA program. It is a common complaint of MA programs with PhD students that the MA students do not get the attention or funding the PhD students do. Oftentimes the MA students are viewed as cash cows...the IFA is a notorious example.

Also, since you are working on contemporary Mediterranean art it seems like an adviser who does Byzantine would not be particularly useful? You mentioned a professor at the terminal program who does Ottoman architecture...Ottoman Empire goes well into the modern...what period are they specifically interested in? It'll be important that you have a professor at the program that can help mentor your thesis, which will instrumental in getting into a PhD program.

Edited by Hegel's Bagels
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You're right in the Byzantine professor not being much help, I just thought it worthwhile to mention. 

The professor at the terminal focuses more on Ottoman architecture (which originally interested me in the region), but has also produced work on Orientalist and Post-Colonial studies. So, her knowledge extending into at least the 1980s I'd assume. 

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If you want honest opinions, neither sounds like a good option. The terminal MA is probably a cash cow (please correct me if I am wrong and you are receiving full funding - in that case go!) don't pay $50,000+ if you aren't even going to be able to work with an advisor who shares your specialty. The other program sounds like a bad fit - Byzantinists know nothing of "Turkey." 


If I were you I would wait until fall and apply for a Fulbright ETA to Turkey or maybe a Turkish studies MA - you could probably get full-funding if you apply to study Persian with the FLAS (I know two people doing this right now). If you did a Turkish studies MA you could take electives in the Art History dept. The ETA would be perfect for you because your interest in Turkish contemporary art would make you a really compelling candidate, and you could probably come up with a really cool independent study. Either of these options would likely strengthen your profile as a candidate for an art history PhD program. 



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