Personal Statement Graduate School Art History

Individuals seeking admission to the graduate program are encouraged to explore this website and, if seeking further information, to consult the Graduate Group Bulletin which explains in detail the graduate program.  Prospective students are also encouraged to contact the Graduate Group Chair and to speak or correspond with faculty in their field of interest.  A visit to Penn, when possible, is also a terrific way to explore the department in person.

Applications for admission to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs are submitted directly to the Graduate School ON-LINE. (Fall 2018 Application will be available October 1, 2017.)  It is not necessary to send any materials directly to the department. Here is a link to the Graduate School Admissions Website.

Applications are reviewed by a committee headed by the Graduate Group Chair.  The chair then makes recommendations on admission to the Dean of the Graduate Division, who may approve or reject the recommendations.  The Dean also determines the number of students admitted in any given year, based on the Graduate School’s financial resources.  All admitted students receive full fellowship packages, which include tuition remission, five years of stipend, and several summers of supported research. 

The committee reviews each application very carefully and weighs all aspects of a candidate’s preparation for graduate study.  The primary elements of the application include:  academic transcript, (3) letters of recommendations, , GRE scores, TOEFL scores for international students, personal statement (1000 word maximum), and writing sample (30 double-spaced pages maximum).  All offer insights into a student’s past achievements and prospects for future development.  It is normally expected that students have a solid background in art history, but it is not necessary to have majored in art history.  In addition, applicants should demonstrate good proficiency in at least one foreign language; both German and French will be required of all Ph.D. students before they advance to candidacy.


NOTE:  Applicants, if any of your letters of recommendation are in an Interfolio databases, they CAN NOT be uploaded to the application system, Please inform your recommenders that use the Interfolio system, they need to email their letter to Darlene Jackson ( and she will upload to the applicant's file.

Fall 2018 Application deadline ~ December 15, 2017 11:59 pm E.S.T

Statement of Purpose - Art History


     My decision to pursue master’s studies in the History of Art and Painting stems largely from my father, a prominent professor of Art History. I had the chance to attend his two courses, History of Greek Art and Thoughts on Contemporary Painting, in which I began to learn about how artists conveyed their aesthetic vision and emotions via artwork from ancient times to the present. I learned about the profound meanings behind these creations, including the historical background, politics, society, culture, and lifestyles. Thus, I became inspired to further my education of this discipline. A work of art can convey numerous messages, reflecting the culture and the time that inspired their creation. In other words, art represents a unique way to explore culture and people, both past and present, and by engaging in further studies related to the history of art, I expect to enrich my own creativity and my understanding of the world around me. 


My predisposition for drawing and painting led me to major in Western Art Studies in the university. Through courses such as History of Western Art, History of Roman Art, Thoughts of Contemporary Painting, and Theory of Renaissance Paintings, I developed a comprehensive understanding of the history of different art forms. In addition, courses such as Aesthetics, Arts with the Anatomy, Sociology of Art and Psychology of Art gave me a chance to delve deeper into the meaning and possibilities of art. Although my major courses focused primarily on western art studies, my professors also introduced us to many eastern artists and their methods of expression, which helped to open my mind to the vastness of this complex world and the immense potential within it. My university education thus prepares me for my proposed studies, as I have already acquired a solid base to further research the evolution and impact of art. 


While I was in the university, I also devoted much of my time to extracurricular activities and leadership positions. For example, I took part in the Student Association and served as an Activity Leader, responsible for planning various events and celebrations. In September of 2012, I held a solo sketch exhibition, which was my first experience organizing every aspect of an exhibition by myself, from renting the venue, inviting guests and designing the poster to actually preparing the exhibition and arranging the opening and closing ceremonies. This was quite different from the previous group exhibitions that I had joined, and it taught me to be more assertive and creative in order to display my artworks in the best way and thus accurately convey my ideas to the viewers. 


In addition to the above, I worked part-time in the National Exchange Commission, where I assisted with the planning of community empowerment programs and did the overall planning and design for the local community. Also, I had the good fortune to work in our department’s office as an ambassador, where I helped the international exchange students with any problems that they had. In hindsight, these were very rewarding and meaningful experiences for me, as I got to meet people from different countries, learned about their different cultures, and improved my teamwork and communication skills. This cultural exchange experience gave me a window into the global village, and it played a part in my decision to pursue further studies overseas. 


By joining your master’s program, I hope to move beyond my specialty in western art, expanding my knowledge of the east and the history of art and painting in general. At the same time, I look forward to studying alongside people from different cultures and learning about alternate viewpoints, as this will open new horizons for me in terms of my own creativity as well as my future career pursuits. After completing my master’s degree, I hope to continue on to a doctoral program, as I recognize the value of advanced education and research, and I hope to take my education as far as possible. 


Regarding my long-term goals, I aspire to become a teacher of art history, introducing the next generation to the value and the possibilities of art. Therefore, my decision to study abroad relates not only to my personal interests but also my professional goals. I am looking forward to sharing my experience of different cultures and characteristics to my peers and students in the future, and after receiving the world-class education offered at your university, I know that I will be capable of attaining my goals and contributing to my society in the future. 

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