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phd advice and likelihood


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hello :)

i am a new poster, apologies if i am out of line in anyway with my post.

i am applying to phd programs in the US over the next little while (stanford, yale and CUNY applications sent or in process), i'm from australia, and i am particularly looking for programs where film and art history are symbiotic/incorporated, which is why yale's joint phd is currently my dream program.

i am a film and cultural studies major from the top university in my country. i then worked for two years as sole cataloguer at an auction house in the art department - hence my fervent interest in art - thought it was always there. i took one art history course in undergrad only. i graduated with honours, and i cant say my gpa because i dont have one but i have a 'gpa' of 85 out of 100 which is first class honours (top grade) (no one ever really getting 100 mind you). i am not enthusiastic about my gre (which i take tomorrow) - i get about 160 verbal and 143 numerical (atrocious, i know) in practice, though i am relatively confident i can write somewhat cohesively in the timeframe.

i have strong research interests (mainly in aesthetic theory (particularly formal theory) across art and film. i also have strong research passion and direction - i am sure i would get into any phd program with funding in my own country - but i am looking to try something new - and also to do a program that is more rigorous than the australian phd.

i have knowledge, though none heaps thorough of french, mandarin and swedish.

what do you think are my chances getting into a (funded) art history (preferable incorporating film) phd? my writing sample wholly concerns aesthetics - which could be applied to art as well as film. 

further, does anyone have any other suggestions for other programs that would be suitable for me? i know many deadlines are closing or closed... but still...good advice for next round if it comes to that. it is terrible, i am terribly late to all this application stuff... but i am really hoping to throw in the effort and hoping i get a fish on the line.

thank you for your time


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I'm also thinking of programs like Chicago or Rochester. Honestly, there is really no way to "gage" your chances. It is dependent upon who in the department is willing to take students, who else applied, and what the situation for funding is among, other things. Many programs like prefer folks with a MA degree first. A lot of the ivies like to take their "own." Have you tried reaching out to professors to see what the ball park is like? If they are taking students for your particular area this time around? Many programs make it a policy to not "deal" with potential students and won't respond. However, the ones that do can be really useful. I got into 4 programs and went with the program that the professor who was immensely helpful during the admissions process. It translated into the advisor now who is always available and will go up to bat for me. 

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Hi betsy303,

Thank you for your response - I will be looking into Chicago and Rochester as we speak. I am very aware that Chicago has an excellent film studies program - perhaps the course may have an interdisciplinary possibility with Art History if I make a strong enough case. 

I have reached out to professors, and have had mildly optimistic responses from staff within Film Studies in particular (I did graduate very well in this discipline in undergrad). My main worry is that Art History staff will be less convinced (I have emailed the DGS in one department, with no response). I'm not sure if relevant work experience and excellence in a cognate discipline is enough for them to feel like it warrants funding me over pure Art History applicants. I guess you are right though. There is not really any possibility to gauge whether or not my application will be competitive. Unless there is advice out there that says 'no, unless you have a strong academic history in Art History, you are wasting your time'. That is the advice I am very painfully expecting, but hoping isn't the case.

I took the GRE today and scored V 163 and Q 151. Not particularly excellent, but I am oddly thrilled that I am not in the bottom 20% of test takers for quantitive, as I was in the practice tests! Haha.

Thanks again. 

Fingers crossed!



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Best of luck! I scored in the bottom 25% of the qualitative and the top 80% in the verbal. It didn't stop me from getting in. No one knows how or why they got admitted other than a combination of qualifications and luck.


Also, for what it is worth, many programs will also allow you to have a doctoral minor in film. Another program that comes to mind is UC Irvine.

Edited by betsy303
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