Jump to content

Writing Sample


Recommended Posts

I'm applying to art history MA programs on the East Coast. My research interests primarily involve the decorative arts and material culture. My question is are the rules for applying for an MA different than applying for a PhD? I have three essay options I can use from undergrad. Only one of them is actually about the decorative arts. I received the same grade on all three of them, but I think the non-decorative arts samples are much better written. Should your writing sample match your research interests exactly, or is it OK that it's just an art history essay?

Also, one of my essay options was technically written for an English class, but primarily involves a visual comparison of two paintings. I think this is my best written sample, but it does not involve any actual research. The only citation I used is the original literary text itself. Do you think this would be acceptable, or is it best to provide a sample that involved additional outside research?

Thank you for your help. Any advice is appreciated!

Edited by shoeswithsoul
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd go for the art history paper over the English one.They're going to want to see your research skills. My own writing sample is only slightly related to my proposed topic, but it's still art history. Basically, it should be your best writing, but you also want to show that you can do extensive research, analyze images, and situate those image in some historical period(s).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's better if it relates to your research interests than if it doesn't.

It's better if it's from your field than if it isn't.

It's better if it shows your ability to research, your knowledge of foreign languages, your knowledge of secondary literature, and any other skills you purport to have than if it doesn't.

It's also better if it's well written than if it is not.


In any case, I would touch up whatever you end up using to the best of your ability. They're not going to check that you handed it in as-is from the time it's been graded.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreed with the above.

I would aim for submitting something that is your best written work and also your best researched. It should be an Art History paper if possible, but doesn't need to be on your subfield (bonus if it is). I would not submit anything that has only one or two citations, as to me one of the biggest aspects of a writing sample is to show that you are capable of writing a grad school level research paper and conducting independent research. Being able to find solid sources, structure a research paper, use proper footnotes, etc are important skills that they don't want to have to teach you in grad school, so your writing sample is your proof that you've mastered them. 

Also, as you've been advised already, you will want to edit and revise your writing sample before submitting, so you can always add more research to one of your papers or improve the writing quality in a well-researched one.

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

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.