The graduate program is for Ph.D candidates only, the M.A. degree is incidental and cannot be applied for separately. To qualify for the degree of doctor of philosophy, candidates are required to pass the general examination in their subject, present an acceptable dissertation, and pass the final public oral examination. The Graduate School requires that all doctoral dissertations be written and submitted in English. The department holds the final public oral examination after the Graduate School reviews and accepts the two readers’ reports and is satisfied that all other requirements have been met.

Language Requirements

All students must satisfy the department’s language requirements by passing a reading proficiency exam, as soon as possible after enrolling, standing for at least one exam early in the first term. Students will be expected to take one of the exams offered by the German, French and Italian departments each fall semester; other relevant language exams are arranged through the department. The Graduate Administrator will inform students when the language tests will be held. An examination from another institution does not fulfill the Princeton requirement. Candidates will not be readmitted for a third year (fifth term) of study for the Western Art program, fourth year (7th term) for the Ancient Archaeology and Chinese and Japanese Art and Archaeology programs, or to the general examination unless the language requirement has been satisfied.

Those who fail to pass this exam (and only those) may petition to take a comparable exam offered by the department in the spring. Please note that passing an exam in a language course taken during the academic year or over the summer will not satisfy the departmental requirement. This applies both to courses offered at Princeton and by other institutions. Obviously, language courses remain a valuable means of acquiring foreign language skills and preparing for the reading proficiency exams, but may not be substituted for them.

East Asian Art and Archaeology

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.

Ancient Archaeology Program


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 advisor, 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)

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.