Spring 2014

Art and Art History Event Calendar


Life Model Sessions

Every Tuesday Starting February 4

8:30-10:00 PM, Montgomery Hall

Visiting Artist Talk: Kathleen Hall

February 26th, 4:45 PM, Library 321

Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Sachs 


Sarah received her BA in Studio Art from St. Mary's College of Maryland in 2006. In 2008, she received her Masters of Art in Digital Art from Maryland Institute College of Art, and in 2009 she received her Masters of Fine Art in Photography and Digital Imaging, also from Maryland Institute College of Art. Through her fine art work, Sarah explores the dichotomy between human and digital memory, how the two influence one another, and how they are affected by natural and technological elements of decay. She hopes to create a dialogue about the relationships between personal memory, society’s collective memory, and collective cultural identity. 

Sarah Sachs Photography


Art Student Resources > Thinking About Graduate School?

Studio Art | Art History | Effective Cover Letters | Recommendation Letter Requests

Studio Art

Here is an article to get you started: "Top 10 MFA Programs that Give You The Most Bang For Your Buck"

Listed below are a few questions you might ask yourself if you are thinking about applying to graduate school:

What would you do at Graduate school?
Architecture, landscape design, interior design, graphic design, industrial design, illustration, media design fields, art therapy, art education.

Deciding to apply to Graduate school

  • Why do you want to go to graduate school?
  • What do you want to achieve when you are in school?
  • Can you work on your own as a studio artist?

Choosing a Graduate Program

  • Admissions - Can you meet the requirements
  • COST Debt is an issue that affects your life/freedom post graduate school
  • Location City vs. Rural - you may choose a location where you think you might ultimately want to live
  • Facilities Do they have the equipment that you need
  • Could you work in the studios?
  • Reputation Critics
  • Full time Faculty
  • How do they treat their graduates - employment, galleries, etc.
  • Accreditation
  • Enrollment
  • What can they offer?
  • Scholarships
  • Financial Aid
  • Teaching experience


  • A body of work
  • A projected idea of your intended studio work
  • Resume
  • Artist Statement
  • At least Three letters of reference

Developing your portfolio - Post baccalaureate Art Programs

  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Pennsylvania Fine Arts Academy
  • New York Studio School
  • MICA
  • San Francisco Art Institute
  • Cont' Ed at Corcoran or VCU
  • Artist Residencies
  • Apprenticeship working with an individual artist

Other Useful Websites:


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Art History

Here's an article to get you started: "If you must go to Grad School…"

What degree should I pursue?

Potential MA/PHDs:

  • Art History (MA, PhD)
  • Museum Studies (MA)
  • Conservation/Preservation (MA)
  • Architecture 
  • Arts Administration
  • Art Education

Joint or Double Degrees:

  • Art History/Business (MA/MBA)
  • Arts Administration, Art Management (corporate collections, Art Investment, Gallery Owner, Artist Rep., etc.)
  • Art History/Public Policy or Law (MA/MPP/MPA/JD - contract law preferred)
  • Intellectual Property, Arts Advocacy, Non-Profit, Artist's Rights, Arts Administration, Cultural Patrimony, etc.
  • Art History/Library Science (MA/MLS)
  • Librarian, Visual Resource Curator, Conservation, Archiving, Visual Technology

Where Should I Study?
(Dependent on your area of specialization, but here are some resources)

Arts Administration, Art Law, Art Policy: AAAE List of Certified Programs in Arts Administration
American University (MPA/MPP) American U (Arts Management), Columbia University Center for Law and the ArtsOhio State University, U. Oregon

NYU (Historical and Sustainable Architecture), SUC at Buffalo, University of Delaware, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

Museum Studies:
George Washington University, GeorgetownU. DelawareNYUJohns Hopkins (online M.A.), Bank Street College (Art and Museum Education), Tufts U. (Museum Studies) Tufts U. (Museum Education), Boston U., Syracuse U., Indiana U.U. Washington

Art Information Management, Visual Technology (Library, Archive, Visual Resources, Learning Resources, Publishing, Media Production etc.)
George Mason University (Art and Visual Technology), Georgetown U (Communication, Culture and Technology), MIT (Art, Culture and Technology),  U. Texas at Austin (Information Studies)

Which Should I Choose?

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH…Learn as much about potential programs, advisors and the local environment as possible. Graduate School is a total immersion into your studies, so it is important to find a program that is the best fit for your intellectual and personal development. There are multiple factors to consider when thinking about a Graduate Program, but start with these:

Overall Program - What are the degree possibilities (Terminal MA, MA/MPhil, MA/MPhil/PhD, PhD, or joint/double degrees)? Where does my area of interest fit into the program as a whole - is it a departmental priority? What kind of seminars do they offer? What are the opportunities for professional development - teaching, internship, career resources, etc.?

Advisor - Who do I want to work with? What are there specific areas of specialization? Are they well connected and active in their field? A good working relationship with your advisor is very important, particularly at the PhD level.

Resources - How is the library? Do you have access to other libraries in the region/nation? Is there a University collection and what access do you have? How is the Visual Resource Collection, what access do you have? Are there opportunities for Research Assistantships, TAships, etc.?

Financial - what scholarship/grant/employment opportunities does the program offer? When am I eligible for these programs and are they competitive? What is the cost of living (housing, transportation, food, etc.)? Most importantly, ask yourself "am I willing to go into debt if I have to self-finance? If so, how far?"

Personal - Location (city, suburban, rural), extracurricular activities (lectures, shows, conferences, etc.), amenities (athletics, outdoors, social clubs, nightlife, etc.). Is it a competitive environment? Is this a place I can have a little bit of a life outside of the classroom and the library? Can I see myself living here for 2-10 years? Talk to current students if you can!!

How do I Apply? - Start EARLY!! (most deadlines are in Dec-Feb) an get ORGANIZED!!

GRE Exam - Scores often determine scholarship/grant eligibility

Application Packet (will vary with program)

Letters of Recommendation

Ask for these early in the year! Find recommenders that know your work and your character and abilities as a potential scholar.

Statement of Purpose - Most important document in application because this is your opportunity to set yourself apart. The statement should reflect your personal goals, what your long range plans are and why the program is right for you - start this early, write multiple drafts and ask your advisor for feedback

Writing Sample - send your best research paper or SMP, a document that best exemplifies your potential as an academic and an art historian


Application Form

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Effective Cover Letters

There are as many ways to write a cover letter as there are jobs, schools, and opportunities to apply for. So the following remarks should be considered suggestions to keep in mind as you approach writing a letter that will be someone's very first introduction to you. Specific guidelines stipulated by the organization should always be considered carefully and followed closely.

An effective cover letter will be:

Keep letter to one page, if possible, and NEVER exceed two pages 3 paragraphs is standard


Opening paragraph should include:

  • who you are
  • what you're applying for
  • why you would be the right match for them


"I am writing to apply for the internship position as a gallery administrative assistant recently advertised in The Washington Post. I graduated from St. Mary's College of Maryland, the state's public honors college, in May, 2005, with a degree in art history (3.6 GPA). While at St. Mary's, I studied both Western art and Art of the Americas, and I completed a senior capstone project on the Mexican muralists during World War II. I feel that my academic and work experiences make me a particularly strong candidate for your position. An internship at the Contemporary Arts Forum would allow me not only to surround myself with art but also gain further knowledge and experience in the professional aspects of the gallery environment."


Main paragraph should:

  • demonstrate specific knowledge of the institution
  • link your particular skills-set to what the institution is looking for


"I am particularly interested in interning at AMA because its varied collections and exhibitions offer art lovers the opportunity to view a variety of quality media. AMA's Asian, American, and European collections, as well as ancient sculptures and visiting exhibitions, will give me the firsthand opportunity to examine art works and artifacts I have already studied and researched. While at St. Mary's, I took several courses on modern and contemporary art and completed a senior project titled "The Mexican Muralists and US Politics during World War II." These experiences gave me a particular interest in the way artists communicate to their audiences, especially when they use "unconventional" materials and challenging formats. AMA's focus on folk art, contemporary art, and exhibitions makes this an especially intriguing opportunity for me. In addition to my academic training in this area, I worked at the Boyden Art Gallery for two semesters. As you can see from my résumé, I also have experience handling art objects, cataloguing works of art, and other practical skills that I would expect to use while interning at AMA."

These links are critical - if you can't convey the sense that you are particularly invested in this position at this institution (even if you are not), your letter will reveal this immediately. Schools, employers, and organizations are only as interested in you as you are in them.


Final paragraph should:

  • reiterate interest in this particular opportunity
  • refer to any attachments or other documents
  • provide contact information that is current and ironclad
  • accentuate the positive


"I would value an intern position as gallery administrative assistant. An internship at AMA would broaden my understanding of how exhibitions, daily business, and public relations are conducted within a gallery. I have enclosed a résumé for a more detailed description of my qualifications and experience. I can be reached at the address above, or at 555-999-0000. I look forward to hearing from you."


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Recommendation Letter Requests

This tip sheet will help you present yourself as advantageously as possible and facilitate our work on your behalf. The following is a list of MINIMUM responsibilities on your part that you should consider when asking for a recommendation.


Ideally, you will give your recommender three to four weeks to write a letter on your behalf. Last-minute requests will almost always guarantee a short, generic letter that will be of little or no value to you. Asking at the last minute also makes it much more likely that the person you're asking will refuse your request. You may only need three letters, but your professors typically write about 25 to 30 letters per year.


There are generally three types of recommendations: academic, professional/work, and personal. As much as possible, you should tailor your reference letters to the job/school/organization to which you're applying. For example, graduate school applications will probably want to hear mainly from academic references who have specialized knowledge of your academic interests, strengths, skills, etc. Job applications should mix academic and practical/professional references - someone who can speak to your "real world" skills. Many grant organizations will ask for a personal reference in addition to academic or work-related ones. Professors can serve as all three types of references. But it's important to remember that your professors may not always be the most appropriate first-choice when seeking references.


Help your reference sound as knowledgeable about you as possible by providing your statement of purpose or writing sample (even in draft form), or at least a short summary note of what you're applying for, why, and why you want it. Also provide some specific information about the job/school/opportunity - maybe even the advertisement. These pieces of information help the reference tailor the letter to make a much stronger case for you.


Pay particular attention to the waiver statement. Waiving your right to examine a recommendation is the very first step to establish trust in the request.


Will the reference return the letter to you to include in your application, or send it directly to the organization? Be prepared to supply envelopes, stamps, etc. if you expect recommenders to send the letter themselves.


You should do this automatically out of courtesy. But it's also true that references will be more likely to continue to be your advocate if you keep them in the loop and let them know how it all turned out.

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