The Department of Art and Archaeology is devoted to the study of the visual arts and the investigation of material artifacts from a wide range of cultures and periods. Students may pursue a major in the History of Art or the Practice of Art; information on the Certificate in Archaeology is also included below. Studio art courses are taught by faculty in the Program in Visual Arts; History of Art courses also frequently include practical components. Working closely with faculty members in small classes and often dealing directly with original objects and primary sources, students can explore subjects as diverse as Roman or modern city planning, arts of printing and book-making in East Asia or Europe, ancient or medieval archaeology, Early Modern or Islamic architectural history, 19th-21st century photography, and contemporary arts of Africa, Latin America, and the United States.
In a world that seems to be taking a “visual turn,” understanding the history and workings of visual culture has assumed an increasing importance. Students in the Department of Art and Archaeology learn techniques for analyzing visual materials and locating them within time and place. They also investigate the factors that influence the form and direction of stylistic change (such as religious beliefs, economic constraints, patronage demands, technological change, and so forth). And as studio artists, they engage in the creative transformation of these observations and experiences into works of art. Like any social scientists or humanists, they must evaluate evidence (documentary, textual, or pictorial), form hypotheses, test their data, and draw conclusions. Successful majors master the translation of visual perceptions into linguistic or material expression, develop their visual memory, and make connections with a wide array of other historical evidence.
A major in the Department of Art & Archaeology prepares students for a variety of careers and a range of graduate programs. Our majors have earned graduate degrees in art history, fine arts, art education, museum studies, architecture, archaeology, comparative literature, area studies (such as Classics, Asian Studies, African American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, European Studies), languages, and history. In addition, majors regularly enter medical, law, public policy, and business schools. The skills developed in the Department also can form the bases for future careers in teaching, journalism, publishing, communication and media, museum work, not-for-profit organizations, architecture, design, advertising, and marketing.
Programs of Study
In this section:
The History of Art Track explores the history of art in connection with a general program of humanistic education. It demands broad exposure to the visual arts produced in different periods and cultures. It trains majors to understand works of art as intimately related to the historical, intellectual, social, and political fabrics of which they were a part. Students in the History of Art Track are encouraged to explore a range of media, including architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, film, and new media.
Concentrators in the Practice of Art Track explore the traditions, thought processes, and methods of making visual art in connection with a general program of humanistic education. Courses are offered in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, film and video production, and film history and theory.
The Program in Archaeology is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary foundation in archaeology—the study of the material remains of the past—and to equip students to use archaeological evidence in other fields of inquiry. The Program offers courses that cover many cultures and periods, including Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Rome, and the Americas. It encourages a deep integration of the humanities and the sciences, and promotes the awareness of issues of cultural heritage.
A Visual Arts minor will be awarded to students concentrating in another academic department who successfully complete a substantial program of studio work in art or film production and a minimal supplement of seminars and art history courses. Students interested in applying for the Visual Arts minor should submit a portfolio in the spring term of sophomore year. Students must have completed at least one visual arts studio or film production course before being admitted to the program. One course in the program of Art and Archaeology is also highly recommended.
Declaring a Major
Students interested in majoring in the Department of Art and Archaeology must choose one of two tracks. Each track has its own specific course requirements for admission.
History of Art Track
A concentration in art history that demands broad exposure to the visual arts produced in different time periods and cultures. Prerequisites: two courses in the Department of Art and Archaeology.
Practice of Art Track
A concentration combining art history with studio art that culminates in a senior thesis exhibition. Prerequisites: By the end of the sophomore year, students intending to major in the Practice of Art should have completed one course in the Department of Art and Archaeology and two studio courses in the Program in Visual Arts. On the first Wednesday following spring break, sophomores submit an application and a portfolio of creative work to the Lewis Center for the Arts administrative office. The admissions committee for the Program in Visual Arts will notify students accepted into the program by early April.
Any questions about declaring the major should be directed to Professor Basile Baudez, Director of Undergraduate Studies.
How to Declare a Major
- Step 1: Starting April 2, declare your major in TigerHub
- Step 2: Schedule an Advising Meeting with Professor Baudez
- Step 3: Register on TigerHub for the approved courses.
Program in Archaeology Certificate
To declare your participation in the Program in Archaeology please complete the Program in Archaeology Application.
Foreign study can be a richly rewarding part of any Department of Art and Archaeology concentration. Art history courses taken abroad (generally up to two per semester or four for a year in a study abroad program) can be pre-approved for departmental credit by the departmental representative. Students typically study abroad during their junior year or the first semester of their senior year. The Junior Independent Work (JIW) can be completed under the supervision of a departmental faculty member with prior approval and ongoing contact with the faculty adviser. The Senior Thesis research in the fall of the senior year may be done overseas, but the spring semester work must be done in residence.
Students contemplating a semester or year abroad should contact the Office of International Programs for a list of potential programs and advice on the application and financial aid process. Since many programs entail instruction in the host country's language, students should complete foreign language courses at least through the 108 level and preferably at the 300 level. For specific advice about offerings in art history in Study Abroad programs, please make an appointment with the departmental representative.
If students do not want to commit to a semester or year abroad, they can pursue summer programs. Again, any courses that a student intends to count as a departmental and/or university requirement must be pre-approved by the departmental representative. The form may be downloaded from the Dean of the College website.
All courses taken overseas do not count in calculating departmental honors or grade point averages. However, if a student intends to apply to graduate or professional school, transcripts for courses taken in foreign universities must normally be supplied.
Princeton and external organizations award many fellowships to support study abroad and summer language study. The Office of International Programs has additional details on Study Abroad Programs for foreign study.
Campus Internships and Employment
Majors are encouraged to pursue summer and term internships that may enhance their coursework and sometimes be springboards for independent work. The Princeton University Art Museum awards paid summer internships to students from Princeton and other schools, and some term internships with various departments are available during the school year. Furthermore, students also serve as docents during the weekend and can nominate themselves for the museum’s Student Advisory Board. For further information on internship and employment opportunities in the Princeton University Art Museum, see Veronica White, Curator of Academic Programs.
The Department funds summer internships at non-profit arts organizations for majors. Interested students should privately obtain an internship and then complete the Summer Internship Funding Application Form (see handbook). These funds cannot be used for internships at for-profit organizations, such as auction houses or galleries.
Off-Campus Internships and Employment
Many of our majors have obtained internships and summer positions in art museums, auction houses, architectural firms, galleries, photographic studios, magazines, and corporate collections. Recent majors have worked at the Musée d’Orsay; Terra Foundation for American Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Smithsonian Museum; Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul; Montclair Museum of Art; Museum of London; Metropolitan Museum of Art; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki; Studioworks (summer art camp, Essex County, NJ); Artsy; Christie’s; Phillip’s; Sotheby’s; and as interns with a New York Times sports photographer, an advertising agency, and a film production studio, among other places.
The Internship Office at Princeton maintains a database of internships in the arts and has a special program for overseas internships. The Internship Office also lists sources of funding for art-related internships.
Practice of Art
Refer to the Undergraduate Handbook for details on your independent work. An Independent Work Guide for Practice of Art students is forthcoming.
History of Art
In general, most independent work in Art & Archaeology begins with the selection of an object or objects or a theme on which to focus. In all cases except for the fall Junior Independent Work (JIW), the student then develops an original interpretation of this material—one that does not already exist in the scholarly or critical literature and that employs modes of reasoning or methods that reflect original thinking—based on examination of the object of inquiry, review of the secondary literature, archival research, primary documents, and examination of other relevant or useful literature from other fields. A student’s particular course of research will be determined by the nature of his or her topic, thus the preceding list represents just some of the types of sources on which a student will draw in conducting his or her research, formulating his or her argument, and writing his or her paper or thesis.
Undergrad Forms and Files contains several important documents for you to view as PDF or download to use as guides including but not limited to the following:
- The Independent Work Guide assists in the process of formulating your paper.
- The Department Style Sheet will assist you in formatting your work, including the structure of citations.
- The Thesis Template should be downloaded and used from the beginning of writing your paper to aid in proper formatting. Your thesis must be written in Word from the beginning. Transferring it from another program like Pages or Google Docs will result in style and format issues, particularly with footnotes and section breaks.
All relevant files are on the Undergrad Forms and Files page.
Senior Thesis Schedule
The Office of Undergraduate Research(OUR) provides funding information and deadlines.
The Mentorship Program for current concentrators is described in the Undergraduate Handbook.
These are the forms that you will need to submit at various stages of the major. Please refer to the Undergraduate Calendar for the deadlines, and look out for emails from the DUS and/or Undergraduate Coordinator that will alert you when it is time to file them. Please do not submit any forms until you are notified that it is time to do so.
Current Requirement Groups
Consult Undergraduate Requirement Groups for current courses that meet requirements.
Recent Independent Work
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Important Dates and Deadlines for Concentrators
Subscribe to the Calendar: Disclaimer: Subscribing to this calendar should put the events onto your own calendar, with no guarantee that updates will be pushed to your calendar. It is still your responsibility to look out for emails from the Undergraduate Coordinator and the DUS concerning deadlines and events.