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Admissions Q&A

Our graduate students have had a few Q&A sessions with pre-program applicants and we thought it would be helpful to save the questions and answers for easy reference. Please note that these questions/answers are from 2020 and 2021 and some may no longer be applicable. This page will be revised for the 2024 application cycle.

What adjustments have been made to the admissions requirements for 2021?
- GREs are no longer required.
- Explanations as to why each requirement is now included on the website
- Academics - hands on studio courses and in person lab classes are normally required, but beginning spring 2020 online courses and pass/fail are accepted

Interview & Portfolio:
What will be required for the online interviews?
Applicants selected for an interview will need to submit documentation of conservation and related experience in advance. During the 50-minute virtual interview you are asked to present on 5 conservation and/or related projects, ideally representing a range of materials and disciplines. Specific instructions will be included when you are invited to interview.

Will online portfolios/websites be looked at before invitations to interview?
No, a website is not required with the initial application or when you get invited for an interview. Details about format and guidelines of submission of conservation treatments in advance will be explained once invited for an interview.

Is there a particular treatment portfolio format that you would recommend (website, PowerPoint, pdf, etc.), especially in the context of interviews being conducted over Zoom for this application cycle?
Details about format and guidelines of submission of conservation treatments in advance will be explained once invited for an interview.

Is the portfolio submitted with the application, or only if asked for an interview? If with the application, how does one submit it?
You will need to submit a set number of images of your studio art and craft works/projects. Your conservation portfolio will be part of what you show the selection committee. You will need to email add a pdf supplemental documents or email additional portfolio of studio art and craft with your application. Once the online application is submitted there should be further instructions sent to you. But this portfolio should include pictures of 7-10 artworks and a cover sheet is required. You should give details on each project including title, media, support and year. As well as whether the artwork was created during a school course or independently.  And describe how and what skills you learned while creating such artwork.

Any advice about kinds/variety of work to submit for the portfolio would be much appreciated as well.
Abby: I can’t speak for everyone because I know my classmates all submitted different portfolios. But personally, I submitted a range of art techniques, from a wooden box I made with dovetail joints, to an oil painting to drawing media and several printmaking techniques. I think they want to see a range of skill and most especially understand what you specifically learned from each project in terms of technique and material used.

Kaela: I also submitted a range of techniques in both 2D and 3D as I wanted to show my interest in and understanding of a variety of materials. I submitted a few oil paintings, a watercolor, a woodblock print, a charcoal drawing, an ink drawing, and a couple ceramics.

What is the format of your pre-program portfolio? Did you create a website/digital version (particularly first year students because of the pandemic)? How did you decide what to include?
This year may be different, but examples of formats submitted last year are: PDF, PowerPoint, Google slides.

Abby: I personally decided to include the top 5 to 10 things I felt were a good range of demonstrating my skill. But everyone’s is different.

Kaela: I tried to highlight some of my favorite treatments (one’s I knew showed my enthusiasm really well), but also balanced with showing my range of skills and materials.

Pre-Program & Hands-on Experience:
Is it at all encouraged to apply if we don't have prior conservation experience?
Hands-on conservation experience is helpful in developing hand skills and gaining familiarity with the field before committing to a graduate program. Re-housing collections, database work, and other museum/library/archives tasks are also useful. The department recognizes that on-site opportunities are currently limited and unpaid internships are a significant barrier.

Any type of preprogram experience is helpful. You want to be confident that you want to pursue a career in conservation. Experience can be remote and/or unconventional – include related experience on application

Trying to get lab hours during COVID isn't possible for me, are there any forgivings on that front?
We encourage you to look at the “ANAGPIC preparing for graduate study while sheltering in place (PDF)

There is not a minimum required number of hours.

Where did the hosts get their undergraduate degrees, and where did other students in the program, if they know, get theirs?
A wide variety of both US and international institutions, big and small, private and public. People’s undergraduate degrees also are quite varied.

Abby: I got my undergraduate degree at K-State, a public state college in small-town Manhattan, Kansas. I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a specialty in Painting. So that helped me get a lot of my studio requirements. I did all of my organic chemistry after I had graduated.

Kaela: I went to Scripps College, a small women’s liberal arts college in California. My BA is in art conservation - the major was developed directly from the academic course requirements for the US graduate programs, so I took all my chemistry, art history, and studio art courses as an undergrad.

Specializations & Interests:
How do students choose their specialization?
You do not have to make a decision until the start of your 2nd year. You can choose in any of the offered specialties: paintings, objects, paper, and Book/Library and Archive Conservation. But within that you are able to focus more specifically.

Faculty do not push students towards any specific specialty. You do not need to have experience in the specialty you choose. The first year serves as an introduction to all of the specialties to help guide your choice. Faculty advisors are there to help you find projects/positions you are interested in/excited about.

Abby: I was interested in printmaking and photography processes. What really helped me make my decision was my love of those techniques, the materials, and the types of treatment for paper. If you know you could spend weeks mending paper, paper might be for you. I’ve also always understood 2-Dimensional work better and I liked the delicate and cleanliness of paper.

Kaela: I made my decision right at the last minute! My pre-program experience was mostly in paintings and objects, but most recently paintings. Ultimately, I was drawn to the variety of materials and issues that come with objects being such a broad category. I’m specifically interested in the conservation of modern and contemporary art, and personally tend to lean towards the issues and ethics concerning objects made in the late 20th century onwards.

How does the program accommodate individual interests beyond the offered specializations?
If you are interested in a specific thing there is almost always the ability to get that in the department for treatment and/or analysis. For instance, one of our classmates specializes in objects but is interested in textiles and her master’s project is focusing on the treatment of a silk civil war flag. (Please note that as of 2023, we are not encouraging textile specialties)

We also have a book and photograph special instructors that teach quarterly and will be advisors if you choose those specialties.

Can you do a minor at Buffalo?
No official minor, but there is plenty of opportunity to explore specific interests to great depth within your time at Buffalo.

Is there summer funding?
There is a summer scholarship grant you can apply for to supplement summer internships/projects.

Are there opportunities for scholarships and FAFSA?
Kaela: As a graduate student FAFSA is a bit limited (, but I filled it out prior to my start here. I found that it was not the best option for me personally, but it definitely is available and easy to do.

Buffalo State Art Conservation Program:
What are some of the changes that have been implemented for Covid-19? How has this affected course, life as a student, internships, etc.?
- Hybrid classes - lectures mostly virtual (over zoom) and labs in person at school
- Smaller room capacities throughout department/school
- Some class schedule shifts/changes
- Many summer internships were cancelled, and some third-year internships were cancelled or modified. The department and Buffalo State have made big efforts to help/make it work

What is the sense of community like within the program?
We love Buffalo and our friends (classmates). It is fun hanging out with everyone and going to happy hour. We had a French onion dip off once to determine the best French onion dip of all time. It’s been harder to hang out outside of school due to the pandemic, but I think you find a pretty good community here in Buffalo. Our teachers are cool and supportive as well! For example, we’ve played Among Us, hosted virtual movie nights, and met up outdoors for socially distant events in the warmer months.

Quality of professors, structure of program—combination/correlation of lectures and guest lectures to labs, opportunities available, sense of community, science aspect of the program is really strong, strong photo documentation program

How does your photo program compare to NYU's and UniDel's?
There is a strong focus on imaging and documentation and the curriculum is extremely comprehensive. You take examination and documentation courses each semester of school and every semester has a different focus. By the time you leave Buffalo you are experienced and well equipped in every type of documentation photography, including UVA, IR, XRAY.

Career & Post Grad School:
Career opportunities?
Nearly all of this year’s graduating class, 2020, had a job or fellowship lined up after graduation – despite pandemic, there is a lot of support from the Buffalo “family” and within the field. Types of opportunities are varied: museum, regional center, and private practice.

Connection with alumni/the broader conservation community?
Great connection! Especially for guest speakers and lecturers. The conservation community is small and Buffalo alums/students are well-connected!

Questions asked during Zoom, in chat, with short answers:
Q: I wanted to ask if we had already taken the GRE before this requirement was removed should we not submit our GRE scores, or would you recommend just sending it if you have already taken it?
A: There will probably not be a place to submit it—look into/verify this

Q: For the art portfolio, will they accept works in progress or should we have completely finished pieces when applying?
A: Make sure you explain why you are including it and why you are at the stage where you are. They are interested in the making process so an in-process piece could be good.

Q: Are there no specific art portfolio requirements (like needing 1 drawing, 1 print, etc.)
A: Photography and digital skills are difficult to assess so they prefer not these medias, otherwise, no requirements

Q: Regarding science/lab classes, online is okay for right now, right?
A: Online is fine for now.

Q: For the art portfolio - how are the works submitted? Via upload with the online application? There was not a mechanism last I checked two weeks ago.
A: There is a place in the application to upload it

Q: I tend to have an issue with nerves when it comes to the in-person/remote interview. Do you have any recommendations for how to approach the interview process to deal with the nerves? How to prepare for them etc.
A: The interview was more of a conversation than expected and it is okay to say “I don’t know”

Q: How did you both and other peers get these positions as conservation technicians/ experience prior to graduate school?
A: Cold calls, networking (there are scholarships to go to AIC conferences), volunteer time (may not be an option for many people)

Q: Will online portfolios/websites be considered, or will they only look at the pdfs submitted? For instance, if I include more than 5 treatments on my website, will they look at them beforehand or will they only consider the 5 treatments they requested via pdf?
A: A website is not required, state in the application if you want them to look at a website; follow guidelines for art portfolio; the interview is TBD

Q: I’ve seen that the schools have made statements regarding unpaid internships this cycle. Is the division between students who can/can’t afford to take on unpaid/volunteer positions taken into account?
A: Yes, they know a lot of people cannot take on unpaid internships and this is taken into consideration

Q: Are there any students or alumni that have concentrated on Time Based Media coming out of Buffalo? If not, is the program interested in this discipline or in supporting students who are?
Q: Has Buffalo proven to be a good program for a specialization in contemporary/modern art?
A: We have had a few students specialize in TBMA and there is a lot of potential. Emily Hamilton (assistant professor of objects) has modern and contemporary art background. (Please note, as of 2023 we are not encouraging TBMA specializations).

Q: Can you clarify the difference between the hard copy portfolio you brought in and the treatments you presented on? For the online interviews, we would only submit and present on the 5 treatments?
A: No hard copy portfolio required; we think you submit 5 treatments and present on those (check with Anne); there are still many logistics being worked out

Q: Do the treatments submitted have to be strictly treatments? What about things like scientific experiments or research that are done in a conservation context?
A: No, experiments and research done in a conservation context can be included

Q: Will they have a virtual tour of the labs?
A: Yes, we don’t know when they will be ready, details to come

Q: What about long-term preventive conservation as a single conservation project in the portfolio
A: Yes, this is a key aspect of conservation!

Q: Is the Buffalo program involved with any international groups or projects?
A: Not international but a lot of collaboration (Nash house, Seneca Museum); potential opportunity for international connection/experience; we have professors that are Canadian in addition to connections with European, Mexican, and Peruvian Centers.

Q: It sounds like you both had a lot of conservation experience before applying, is that typical
A: Some people have had very little experience, and some people have a lot prior to applying; if you don’t have a lot of conservation experience highlight other experiences that is applicable (art, art history, museum, printmaking, archeology, science)

Q: In addition to conservation experience would it be worth noting experience as a chef?
A: Yes, if you can make the connections between this skill and conservation; they want to know about the connections and about you as a person

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Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department

1300 Elmwood Ave  •  Rockwell Hall 230 •  Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878-5025 •  Fax: (716) 878-5039