Guide to Grad School: Part One
With September here and Labor Day signally the end of summer we thought we'd (mentally) go back to school to discuss the pros and cons of grad school. Working in the art field and getting a masters degree has almost become ubiquitous unless you're looking to become an artist. Now that the three of us have gotten to the other side of a higher education we can see the advantages and disadvantages to holding this degree. In this post, learn about what you should think about when considering grad school and how to pick the best program for you. Keep an eye out for part 2 of this post for advice on making the most out of grad school.
Why go back to school?
- DO go back to school because...
Degree needed for your dream job: so you've had an internship or two, or recently discovered your dream job lies in an art museum or cultural institution? Many jobs in these fields require a Master's degree so you may need this added academic experience to get where you want to go.
- DON'T go back to school because...
You're nervous or unsure of your next steps, looking to defer your student loans, or running away from the "real world." We totally get it. Jumping into life post-undergrad can be extremely stressful and sometimes staying in academia feels safer and more familiar. But grad school is a huge commitment and requires lots of work, time, and a financial obligation that should be taken seriously. Trust us, this a decision that's worth taking your time to figure out.
How to pick a program?
- Consider your long term goals
What is your end goal? Do you want to work in a museum as a museum educator? How about as a curator? Or a collections manager? Or are you more interested in the academic route - become a professor and delving into detailed research? Figuring this out will help you better identify the right fit for you. Programs will differ in the classes they offer, the various concentrations they offer, the networks you can build through them, and the experience you'll gain while in the program. Consider which program will benefit you the most and help move you towards your goals.
- Who do you want to work with?
Do your homework when looking at various programs and spend some time looking over their faculty members. Find a professor you specifically want to work with, whose research interests are related to your own and make sense for your academic development and future. Especially if you are considering going the PhD route, make sure you know who you want to work with (and definitely reach out during your application process!)