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Applying to Art History Graduate Schools

Dia Alam

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Hi guys,

I have been out of school for the last three years, and felt it was high time that I return for graduate studies. I want to start looking into programs for medieval art, but I am utterly confused as to how I should go about my research. Can anyone give me any starter tips, some way that I can kick start this lengthy process? I would greatly appreciate it. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm still in undergrad, but I am also starting to look at grad programs (mainly in anthropology). This is what I've learned so far:


1. Ask yourself what you're looking for. You already know that you want to study a specific period of art, so that definitely helps, but there obviously a lot of other things to consider as well. Are you interested in doctoral programs, or master's programs, or both? Are there certain locations that you can or can't see yourself living in? What kinds of schools are you capable of getting into, given your academic record? With those kinds of questions in mind, go to rankings sites (I like this one), and write down every school you'd like to learn more about. Remember that you're at the very beginning of your research, so you want to explore every option you have. 


2. Consider programs with faculty whose work you've enjoyed. This may be more difficult for you, since you've been out of school for a few years, but if there are any articles you read during undergrad that stand out, look up who worked on them, and then find out where they teach. 


3. Fit is huge. You'll hear this time and time again on Grad Cafeand on the websites of grad programs. Lots of things are taken into account when you apply to grad school, but it seems like fit is the most important. So, look at a department's website, and see what their strengths are. You want to apply to places where there are people you could potentially work with, so read faculty interests, and take note of any good matches. 


4. Don't be afraid to look at other departments. I assume you're going to be focusing on art history programs, but you may find that other areas in the humanities or social sciences might also have something to offer you. Maybe you're interested in a program that lets you take coursework in other disciplines, or you'd like to do a joint degree (say, art history and museum studies). Again, at this stage, it's better to have too many options than not enough.


5. Explore the forums! I spent months reading Grad Cafe before I started seriously looking at grad programs, and it can be a really great resource. This is the internet, so you have to take things with a grain of salt, but what I've found is that there are some truly helpful people on here who are eager to talk about their experiences. Of course, there are lots of other good sources of information out there, too, both on and off-line. Read as much as you can about the process, because applying to grad school is a huge thing to deal with, and you want to go into it feeling as informed as possible. 


I hope that helps a bit. I'm new at this, too, so I'd love to see what anyone else has to add here.

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