Frequently Asked Questions

What must be submitted with the application?

All applicants must submit an application form online; a personal statement; a resume; three letters of recommendation (at least two academic recommendations are preferred); transcripts from ALL previously attended institutions of higher education; GRE scores; and TOEFL or IELTS scores (international students only). 

Is the GRE required of all applicants?

Yes, it is one of the many elements that informs us about the potential of the applicant to succeed at graduate level research and writing. Additional information about the standardized test requirement can be found on our Application Requirements Page.

If I am an International applicant, can I apply to the program?

Yes, we have welcomed many International Students over the past 20 years.  Along with the GRE, the TOEFL or IELTS exam is required to demonstrate proficiency in English.  To learn more about the requirements for International Students, visit our Graduate International Applicants page.

Can I complete the program as a part-time student?

Yes and no.  Yes, in that one can take less than the 9 credits per term that is required to be considered full-time. Students can take up to four years to complete the program at their own pace.  There are also many evening classes that would allow a student to hold a part-time or possibly a flexible full-time job.  No, in that there many day classes over the two years that must remain during the day for museum interactions.  The actual answer will be different for each person.

How many students are accepted each year?

16 - 20 students are accepted each year.

Are there specific undergraduate degrees that you would prefer an applicant to have?

A degree that includes art history and/or history and/or anthropology would prepare a student for the global understanding of the place of fashion and textile production in human endeavors.  The study of these fields, including a study of literature, is rich in sociological, psychological, and economical aspects important to fashion history thus an applicant can come from a number of quite varied backgrounds.  A student with an enriched writing and research background in any given area would be a good candidate.  We have taken many successful students from English, theater history, costuming, textile science, and other backgrounds.

What is the language requirement?

Our program requires that entering students have some proficiency in the use of at least one language, other than English. Preferred languages are French, Italian, Spanish, and German (in that order), but other languages are acceptable.  

The requirement may be met in one of the following ways:

  • Two years (usually four college terms) of a foreign language on their academic transcript;
  • Students with prior experience in a language or studied a language in a non-traditional way may take a proficiency exam to given by the department once each term to demonstrate mastery of their language at the appropriate level.

What is the chemistry requirement?

All students entering the program are expected to have taken one term of college level chemistry with a lab component (usually called General Chemistry I). This course can be taken at any accredited college or community college and can be taken pass/ fail.

What is the art history requirement?

All students entering the program are expected to have taken four college-level courses in the history of art.  Up to two of those courses can be from related humanities areas like history, archaeology, or literature.

What if I don't have all my prerequisites completed at the time of application?

There is the possibility that we will accept a candidate who has not finished all the prerequisites.  However, there must be a plan in place for their timely completion.  If it seems that the applicant can complete some open prerequisites over the summer before entering the program, or during the first year, then the strength of the rest of their application may get them accepted into the program.

What should my essays include?

We look carefully at the written components of the application.  It should express the reasons for your interest in the program as well as your possible future career goals.

I read in the catalog that a student can select a curatorial or a conservation emphasis.  Do I have to know which I will pursue at the time of application, and how do those paths differ?

No, you don't have to know which path you will choose during your first year in the program.  All students take some basic handling, identification, materials type of courses the first year because we believe they will be necessary for both curatorial and conservation students.  In the second year, there are course choices that are made which will create one path or the other.  The type of master's qualifying paper will be slightly different in form based on one path or the other.

What is the nature of the internship requirement?

In order to obtain your degree it is expected that you will have completed (at least) one official approved internship some time during your two years in the program.  There are no credits associated with the internship; it is simply a graduation expectation.  There are so many great internship sites that have taken our students over the past 20 years that we are blessed with a richness of choices.  The choice is yours to make and get approved.  We can assist with letters of introduction.  A daily journal, a supervisors evaluation, and the completion of 135 hours are expected.

What is the nature of the qualifying paper?

Each student will identify a special subject of interest to them some time early in their time in the program.  After selecting an appropriate faculty member as their advisor, a proposal is submitted to the Thesis Committee.  Once the proposal has been approved, the student will work with the advisor on completing an original paper, rich in research and documentation, of 30 to 60 pages in length that will be submitted as their qualifying paper. The student has up to one year after the completion of course work to submit the qualifying paper.

I see that there is a specific list of courses for the program.  Can I customize my degree in any way?

Yes, there are a few ways to add the study of specialized areas to your curriculum.  The first is through an independent study.  Each student in their second year is allowed to take a maximum of two independent study courses, which can be up to three credits each. 

During that time, a goal is set for some form of specialized investigation and work with a faculty member is set up over the course of a term. Another way of changing the curriculum a bit is to take a pre-approved graduate level course at another institution and transfer those credits. Each student is allowed to submit up to 9 transfer credits.  And finally, the choices of where internships are taken and the qualifying paper topic itself will enrich the curriculum in customized ways.

What types of jobs do graduates of the Fashion and Textile Studies program hold?

Obviously our graduates are working in many museums as curators, researchers, public educators, collections managers, and conservators, but there are many other types of positions that require knowledge of historic dress and textiles.  We have graduates working in archives, such as the Conde Nast photography archives, in the Donna Karan antique fashion archives, Scalamandre historic fabric archive, in Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Coach, etc.  We have graduates who have gone on to teach at the college level all over the country.  Others work at Historic House sites, such as the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, King Manor House, Merchants House, etc.  Others have positions as fashion writers, private consultants, private collections managers (working presently at Geoffrey Beene, with Hamish Bowles, etc.) and as vintage dealers. We have several graduates who work for large auction houses (Christies in London and Sothebys in New York).  Any occupation that has anything to do with historic costume or textiles will benefit from hiring a student from our program.

How does the Fashion and Textile Studies department determine acceptance?

All required application materials are gathered in the applicants folder prior to the deadline.  If a students application is complete (all materials have been received), the folder is sent to the Admissions Committee for review.  Selection is based on ALL the components of the application GRE, transcripts, GPA, letters, resume, museum experience, etc.   Students who have not come in previously for an interview will be called to set up an appointment or a phone interview will be set up. 

Do you create a waiting list?

Yes.  For the past few years we have had up to 60 applications for the 16-20 positions.  We make our first cut of about 24 students and place about 8 students on the waiting list each year. There are usually a few newly accepted students who defer one year for personal or monetary reasons and one or two that go elsewhere.  We end up taking a few off the waiting list each year.