It takes plenty of artistic talent to get into a Master of Studio Arts program, one of the 50 highest paying master’s degrees, but you may also need more than that. Many master’s degree programs in a variety of subject areas expect students to complete some form of a standardized test, like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Having a good score on a test like the GRE may help you get into a Master of Studio Arts program, but most programs don’t require GRE scores for admission. You may, however, have to complete other types of tests to get into, make your way through or graduate from a Master of Studio Arts program.
What Art Students Should Know About Graduate Exams
Many Master of Studio Arts programs explicitly state that GRE scores and other graduate exam scores are not required for admission. Some Master of Studio Arts programs will weigh a student’s GRE scores as part of their application if the student chooses to submit them but will not penalize or discount a student for opting not to do so. If you don’t want to take the GRE and have the talent to get into art school, you can certainly find a Master of Studio Arts program that won’t require you to submit graduate exam scores. However, there are certain fine art schools that expect all applicants to submit GRE scores as part of their application. You might also have to take the GRE if you want to pursue coursework in art history or in other creative areas, such as creative writing.
Because some schools require GRE scores and others list the GRE as “recommended but not required” for a Master of Studio Arts program, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the standardized exam so you can make an informed decision on whether or not to take the test. The GRE General Test measures a student’s competency in three areas: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. None of these three areas are necessarily directly related to or reflective of your artistic abilities, which is one of the main reasons why so many Master of Fine Art programs don’t require the GRE test. However, knowing that you have the reading, writing and numerical proficiencies expected of a graduate-level student may be valuable to your intended graduate art school.
In recent years, art schools and departments have begun to place more emphasis on traditional college admissions requirements like grades and test scores, according to Inside Higher Education.
The Other Tests That Matter to Art School Students
You may not have to take a traditional graduate standardized test like the GRE to get into a Master of Studio Arts program, but some form of testing may still be in your future. Some Master of Studio Arts schools, for example, require students to complete the school’s own written comprehensive exam as part of their graduation requirements. A written admissions test for studio arts applicants may cover topics in art history, the philosophy of creativity and creative expression and theories and techniques used in the student’s chosen art medium.
Students may also be subjected to periodic examinations throughout their program, including a first review by instructors within the first one or two semesters of the program, an oral examination around the midpoint of the program and a final oral examination upon completion of the program. These examinations aren’t usually in the vein of standardized tests but instead allow more room for open-ended answers and responses. When it comes to the coursework of the Master of Studio Arts program itself, final portfolio reviews of the quality of your work are more common than written tests evaluating your abstract knowledge of concepts and techniques.
International students applying to United States Master of Studio Art programs that will be taught in English are often required to demonstrate their English-language proficiency. A standardized exam like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) may be required for or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) international students.
If standardized tests aren’t among the most important requirements to get into a Master of Studio Arts program, what should you focus on? Most programs look at a combination of your portfolio, previous grades, letters of recommendation, personal statement and more.