Program of Study

Courses are offered in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, filmmaking, and film history and criticism. Studio courses emphasize direct, hands-on art making under the guidance of practicing visual arts professionals.

Most courses in the program are open to all students at Princeton. A few are by application only, and a few are reserved for certificate and Program 2 students only.  Most courses are letter graded (not pass/D/fail) and may be taken in fulfillment of the distribution requirement in LA (Literature and Arts).

Summer courses and study abroad are accepted for Program 2 students, certificate students, and students who have previously completed at least one VIS course. AP credit is not accepted.

» View Visual Arts Courses
» Apply for the Visual Arts Certificate & Program 2

Thesis / Certificate

For students interested in pursuing a thesis in studio arts, there are two options. The first is Program 2, the concentration offered by the Department of Art and Archaeology in cooperation with the Program in Visual Arts that focuses on the studio arts. The second option is a visual arts certificate earned in addition to a student’s departmental concentration. Students wishing to study film history and theory may pursue this track within the visual arts certificate program in collaboration with departments that accept a creative or written thesis in film.

Admission to both Program 2 in Art and Archaeology and the Visual Arts Certificate program is selective. In the first week following spring break, students submit an application and a portfolio of creative work (or an essay on cinema in the case of those applying for the track in film and video) typically in spring of the sophomore year to the Lewis Center for the Arts administrative office. The admissions committee will notify by early April those students accepted into the program. For specific prerequisites, please see the individual areas below.

Apply here …

Program 2

Program 2 is an intensive studio concentration in the visual arts that culminates in a creative senior thesis. For program requirements, see the Program 2 description under the Department of Art and Archaeology.

* Detailed guidelines for Program 2 can be found in the Art & Archaeology Department’s Undergraduate Student Handbook. Consult page 8 for details.

The Visual Arts Certificate

A certificate in visual arts will be awarded to students who successfully complete a substantial program of studio work and other requirements, as summarized below, while concentrating in another academic department. Students interested in a certificate in visual arts should submit a portfolio in the spring term of the sophomore year. Students must have completed at least one visual arts studio course before being admitted to the program. One course in Art and Archaeology is also highly recommended.

Course Requirements
A total of seven courses combined from the Program in Visual Arts and the Department of Art and Archaeology, as follows:

a) Three visual arts studio courses, in at least two different media, and at least one 300- or 400-level course.

b) VIS 392 Issues in Contemporary Art. This course is required for all Program 2 and certificate students. The course coincides with admission to the junior studios and concentrates on the history, challenges, and rewards of studio practice. Through readings, discussions, studio critiques, and a culminating exhibition of artist’s books, VIS 392 provides the context and the work ethic for each student’s independent creative development, as well as beginning to be able to articulate the historical precedents and ambitions of their work.

c) VIS 416 Exhibition Issues and Methods/VIS417 Fall Film Seminar. These courses provide a formal structure in which Program 2 and certificate students will present, discuss, and develop ideas parallel to their senior thesis exhibitions. VIS417 can be counted as a cognate for VIS392.

d) One art and archaeology course in the modern period (19th century to the present).

e) One course that is either a VIS studio course or an ART course covering any period of study.

Junior Independent Work
In the fall, students will be assigned one adviser and will have at least three studio visits with secondary elect advisers chosen from the Program in Visual Arts faculty. Each student is also assigned a studio work space in the Room 401 loft of the Lewis Center. In lieu of writing a fall paper, students will conceive and produce a 32-page artist’s book for their fall independent work. The independent work is done in consultation with each student’s advisers, their peers, and the director of the program. The advisers’ spring term grade for the junior independent work represents an evaluation of the entire year’s studio work. The junior independent work is exhibited in a group show at the end of the junior spring term.

Senior Independent Work – The Creative Thesis
In the fall, students enroll in VIS 416 Senior Thesis Seminar, are assigned one adviser and select one adviser from the Program in Visual Arts faculty. Students are assigned shared, semiprivate studios on the second floor of the Lewis Center. The creative thesis work is done in consultation with the student’s advisers, their peers, and the director of the program. Students present their work in an exhibition during the spring term, usually a two-person show with another certificate student or Program 2 student. The grade for the senior independent work represents an evaluation of the entire year’s studio work and is the average of two grades: (1) the average of the grades given by the student’s advisers and (2) the average of the grades given by the rest of the visual arts faculty who view the senior exhibition.

Film & Video

Students interested in film criticism and analysis may pursue the film and video track within the visual arts certificate program while concentrating in another academic department. Requirements for this track are summarized below. To enter this track, students must have the approval of their department of concentration to submit a written critical/historical thesis on a film-related topic. Normally, students in this track must have completed a film production course and a course in film history or theory before being admitted to the program.

The five visual arts courses that students take in the film and video track must include:

a) One course in film/video production (VIS 261, 262, 263, 264)

b) Two courses in film history (any course listed by the Committee for Film Studies) and one visual arts seminar in film theory or history

c) At least two other courses (either in film production or academic courses in film history)

Please note: Three cognates are accepted within the above group. Junior projects and senior theses may be submitted as historical or theoretical essays based either on one of the media or on both media. Where these projects can fulfill the requirements of the visual arts certificate and the student’s department of concentration, they will be jointly advised by faculty members from the program and the student’s home department. Where the independent work is not completed in conjunction with requirements for the student’s home department, the work will be supervised by two faculty members from the Program in Visual Arts.