Areas of Study

When applying, students choose from the following areas: 

  • East Asian Art and Archaeology
  • Ancient Art and Archaeology
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art
  • Renaissance and Baroque Art
  • African & African Diaspora Art
  • Modern and Contemporary Art, including American Art and the History of Photography
  • Islamic Art and Archaeology

Requirements for the areas are essentially the same, with the exception of the two areas listed below, their requirements are outlined here. 

East Asian Art and Archaeology

The Department of Art and Archaeology and the Department of East Asian Studies cooperate to offer a program at the graduate level leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Chinese or Japanese art and archaeology. This program aims to combine Chinese and Japanese studies with the history of art and museum training in these fields. Special emphasis is on the development of the student's ability to do creative research. The student must register with the Department of Art and Archaeology in order to participate in this program.

A candidate for the Ph.D. in Chinese art and archaeology is required to show proficiency in classical and modern Chinese, and a reading knowledge of Japanese. A candidate for the Ph.D. in Japanese art and archaeology is required to demonstrate proficiency in classical Japanese and/or kanbun, as appropriate to the candidate's specialization, and modern Japanese, and a reading knowledge of Chinese or a European language.

The general examination, which normally takes place no later than May of the third year, is set jointly by the two departments. It is designed to test the candidate’s ability to integrate general, topical, and area knowledge in related fields chosen from the two departments.

The general examination tests the candidate in the following areas: (1) a basic, general knowledge of Chinese and Japanese art and/or archaeology; (2) a specialized knowledge in the field of the dissertation; and (3) Chinese or Japanese history, literature, or religion, or a similar subject in the culture of China or Japan within a chosen period.”

Ancient Art and Archaeology


Students in the Ancient Art and Archaeology program will take a total of 15 courses, which shall include:

  • whichever Ancient art/archaeology seminars are offered in at least four of a student’s first five terms. Some of these may be audited, with approval of the student’s adviser, considering the student’s specific program of study and course load.
  • ART 502 (a no credit course); ART 500 or 501 (whichever is offered); and, ideally, one non-western course.
  • those working in the Greek and Roman fields will take both Greek and Roman History Proseminars (offered in Classics)
  • those working in the Greek and Roman fields will take at least one 3XX level literature course in Classics (i.e., a text-based course in either Greek or Latin literature)


The study of Ancient Art and Archaeology at Princeton benefits from access to distinctive collections, resources, and collaborative partnerships. These include:

  • Princeton University Art Museum: encyclopedic holdings across the ancient Mediterranean, with research and internship opportunities. Many courses include hands-on work with the collection
  • Numismatic Collection in Firestone Library: comprising ca. 100,000 coins, including ca. 30,000 coins from the Princeton excavation of Antioch-on-the-Orontes (1932-1939). A full-time curator regularly gives graduate seminars and offers internships
  • Cast Collection: plaster casts of architectural sculpture, reliefs, and free-standing sculpture from the Archaic through Roman periods
  • Visual Resources: historic and archival research photographs, including the Antioch-on-the-Orontes Excavation, the Howard Crosby Butler Archive (Syria), the American Society for the Excavation of Sardis 1910-1914, the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Morgantina (1955-1963, 1966-1967), and the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Polis (Cyprus) (1983-Present)
  • Molyvoti, Thrace, Archaeological Project (MTAP): current archaeological excavation and surface survey of a settlement in Aegean Thrace, a co-operation of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Ephorate of Antiquities at Rhodopi. Previous seasons have included the excavation of Classical Greek houses, the survey of a late Roman villa, and an integrated research program of bioarchaeology
  • Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies: hosts lectures, workshops, and visiting scholars; offers a graduate reading group for students pursuing a certificate in Hellenic Studies; supports summer learning and research
  • Princeton Athens Center: sponsors workshops and short-term, intensive summer courses
  • Program in the Ancient World: interdisciplinary group for graduate students and faculty studying the ancient world; sponsors lectures and hosts short-term visiting faculty
  • Department of Classics: students in Art and Archaeology regularly take courses in Classics, with faculty such as Professor Caroline Cheung
  • Princeton-Ioannina-Volos Initiative: sponsors travel to universities in Greece to participate in research seminars, and hosts exchanges of students and scholars from collaborating Greek universities
  • Partnerships with the Freie Universität Berlin and Scuola Normale Superiore: offers the opportunity for students to enroll in courses in Berlin and Pisa
  • Heritage Structures Lab: graduate group in the School of Engineering studying buildings from historical and structural perspectives
  • Princeton University Library Makerspace: provides training and access to equipment for 3D scanning, 3D printing, CNC milling, and virtual reality

Modern Languages

Candidates for the Ph.D. in Ancient Art and Archaeology are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of German as well as another modern language appropriate to the student’s special field; language examinations shall be arranged by the Department, or may be satisfied, in certain instances, by coursework.

Ancient Languages

Students are expected to acquire proficiency in ancient languages.
Those working in Egyptian art are expected to have proficiency in Middle Egyptian, along with another area (i.e. Old or Late Egyptian, hieratic or Demotic)as it is relevant to their dissertation research. Those working in Greek or Roman art are required to pass sight exams in both Greek and Latin (administered by Classics) or to satisfy the proficiency requirement by coursework (a 3XX level course).


Typically, students in the Ancient Art and Archaeology program spend the first two and a half years in course work. General exams are usually taken in the latter half of the third year. The general examination tests the candidate by means of an 8-hour written exam in Ancient art and archaeology, and a 4-hour written exam devoted to the general area of the dissertation; these are followed by a 2-hour oral examination covering materials related to both written exams.