Admission Requirements

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Furniture major Sarah Towers examines one of her treatment objects, a Norwegian Hardanger fiddle made in 1833 by John Eriksen Helland (Image credit Evan Krape, University of Delaware).

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The Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation is committed to addressing social equity in conservation education and to reduce barriers to our graduate program. Working with our faculty, student, alums, and other professional colleagues we aim to make our educational experiences more diverse and by extension, our profession.

To that end, we are reevaluating our admissions requirements recognizing that there are multiple ways to demonstrate a sustained commitment to the cultural heritage sector while also learning whether graduate conservation education is the best path forward. Permanent changes require multiple administrative steps that are underway. In the year ahead the Department aims to take these steps.

In the meantime, recent academic and experiential requirement revisions generated during the global pandemic and in place for January 2022, are detailed below.

Revisions to the admissions requirements and procedures for January 15, 2022 to the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation:

(A) GRE Exams are NOT Required. Due to continued impact of COVID-19, the Department of Art Conservation is waiving the GRE requirement for our graduate program for January 2022 applications. If you wish to apply without a GRE score, please enter a future GRE exam date into the application when prompted. This need not be an actual exam date. Entering any future date will allow your application to be sent on to our review committee where it will receive full consideration. Reporting your scores is entirely optional. If you chose to not submit a GRE score, this will have no bearing on the competitiveness of your application. If you have any questions regarding this process, email Susan Behrens (behrens@udel.edu).

(B) Online Coursework. In all cases, including STEM laboratory requirements, accredited online courses will fulfill all academic course requirements.

(C) Studio Art Coursework. Applicants may substitute formal studio courses taught at museums or other community centers for formal academic coursework. These experiences can be enriched with additional hours at home or independently in studio, as necessary and feasible. The goal for each studio art course is 72 hours of supervised or concentrated studio/at-home work. While a distribution of at least one course in drawing, painting, and three-dimensional design is preferred, we will consider favorably an alternate combination of studio coursework.

(D) Conservation Experience. Four hundred (400) hours of documented conservation experience under the supervision of a conservator are required, that may include involvement in supervised collection care projects such as collection assessments, rehousing, and exhibition design, as well as examination and treatment of individual artifacts. We urge all applicants to pursue funded pre-program internship experiences only.

We recognize that access to on-site experiential opportunities is limited. Distance learning or remote experiences, such as the compilation of bibliographies prepared in collaboration with a supervisory conservator, the creation of a draft emergency preparedness plan, and other activities in the Association of North American Graduate Programs in the Conservation of Cultural Property (ANAGPIC) document Preparing for Graduate Study While Sheltering in Place will be considered toward the required hours and should be documented accordingly. You can access a PDF of this document in English and Spanish.

(E) Portfolio Format and Interview. All applicants who reach the final stages of evaluation will be invited for a virtual interview scheduled for late March 2022. At that time, they will present a studio portfolio of both two- and three-dimensional objects that demonstrate their art and crafts skills and their conservation experiences (see Portfolio Requirements List). During the interview, applicants will also be given two questions; they are to choose one to answer in 30 minutes. The questions are designed to get a sense of the applicants' thoughts on overview/debatable issues in the world of conservation, art, artifacts, museums, libraries, etc. such as "what do you consider the pros and cons of visible conservation treatments—treating works in front of the public?"

All applicants invited for interviews will take in advance an online essay examination that connects the fundamentals of general and organic chemistry to the structure, deterioration, preservation, and analysis of cultural heritage.

Questions and Tours. We are committed to mentoring across all career stages, especially potential applicants. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns to Susan Behrens (behrens@udel.edu) who will direct your query appropriately. Potential applicants are invited to tour the conservation and research studios and laboratories at Winterthur, although opportunities will be limited during the global pandemic. Limited funding to supplement travel experiences are available for those applicants in need of financial support.​

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Admission Requirements (see notes above regarding revisions)

Applications must be made through the Graduate Studies Office at the University of Delaware using their online application. If you are considering applying to our program and would like to hear from us about current events and more, please register by email.

The admission requirements are designed to bring students into the training program that have a balance of skills in material culture studies (including anthropology, archaeology, museum studies and history of technology), art and cultural history, science, and studio arts and crafts. Applicants should possess an innate desire and ability to work with their hands and derive a high level of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment from working with artistic and cultural works.

Bachelor Degree: A minimum of a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree is required. Applicants must have an overall academic index (on a 4.0 point scale) of at least 2.5 and an index of 3.0 in their field of concentration. The latter figure is computed from the junior and senior years. These following majors are preferred areas of study: anthropology/archaeology/technology, art and cultural history, chemistry, or studio arts and crafts. Applicants with degrees in other majors who meet the minimum course prerequisites will be considered.

GRE: An official copy of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores must be submitted. The University of Delaware’s GRE Code is 005811-5101. When taking the GRE, applicants are expected to obtain a GRE score of:

1. Sixty-fifth percentile or better for the Verbal Reasoning section

2. Fiftieth percentile or better for the Quantitative Reasoning section

3. 4.0 or above on the Analytical Writing section

In the case of a student for whom English is not the first language, the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores may be substituted for the verbal score to calculate the minimum GRE total.

The ETS University of Delaware institution code is "5811". You only need to submit the University code of 5811. No department code is needed for our institution.

Coursework: Applicants must complete prerequisite coursework in art and cultural history/archaeology/anthropology, studio arts, and chemistry. Please review the prerequisites for specific information and the number of college level credit hours required in each area for to admission into the program. Contact Susan Behrens (behrens@udel.edu) if you have any questions.

Conservation Experience: In addition to coursework, applicants must have completed at least 400 hours of documented conservation experience under the supervision of a conservator. Appropriate experience may include work in regional, institutional, or private conservation laboratories. Involvement in supervised collection care projects such a collection assessments, rehousing, and exhibition design, as well as examination and treatment of individual artifacts is also encouraged. Above all, applicants are expected to be thoroughly acquainted with conservation as a career option and to possess a fundamental knowledge of its philosophy, ethics, and basic working procedures.

The application deadline is January 15. If all coursework has not been completed by January 15, the application will still be considered if no more than two required courses are still in progress. Applicants with more than one chemistry requirement in progress will not be considered. Proof of registration must be submitted with the application and satisfactory completion of the courses with a grade of C- or above is necessary for entry into the program. (Applicants interested in Library and Archives Conservation studies are asked to note their LACE preference on the Statement of Interest in their application materials. The LACE Program and funding model will be modified for those entering in August 2022 with details forthcoming.) Up to ten students will be admitted into the program annually. Each student will receives a fellowship that includes an annual stipend, which increases with each year of study, and a tuition-free scholarship.​

Up to ten students will be admitted into the program annually. Each student will receives a fellowship that includes an annual stipend, which increases with each year of study, and a tuition-free scholarship.

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