Art and Materials Conservation (BA)

This program is not accepting applications for new students at this time.
Please contact an admissions counselor for more information.

Columbia’s Art and Materials Conservation BA program is a rigorous, chemistry-heavy program that was developed based on research of graduate programs in Art Conservation around the United States. One of the few undergraduate programs of its kind in the country, it is designed to prepare you to be accepted into—and succeed in—competitive art and materials conservation graduate programs.

Your time in the classroom is focused on the fundamentals of the chemical and physical properties of art materials, as well as art and art history. But you won’t just learn in the classroom. In your third year of the program, you’ll travel with your fellow students to Columbia’s partner school, Lorenzo de Medici Italian International Institute in Florence, Italy, where you’ll work with renowned art conservators and professors. In your fourth year, you’ll gain invaluable experience working with Chicago-area conservators through internships coordinated by the department.

art and materials conservation

What to Expect Your First Year

In your first year, you’ll build the foundation of your education to prepare you for hands-on work in your third year. You’ll take basic coursework related to art conservation, including Chemistry of Art and Color and Chemistry of Artifact Conservation. You’ll also take elective classes in the humanities, a writing and rhetoric class required of all Columbia students, and a biology course of your choice.

Hands-on Experience in Italy

The second half of the program takes you into the field. Year three is spent in Florence, Italy—one of the most celebrated and art-rich cities in the world—gaining hands-on experience conserving art and artifacts. After the conclusion of this year-long immersive program, you’ll receive a certificate degree that will make you more competitive in graduate school applications.


The highlight of your last year is an internship with a Chicago-area conservator, completed in your final semester. This internship, which we coordinate for you, allows you to observe the conservation process first-hand and build relationships with top names in the local conservation field. You’ll take a capstone class, in which you’ll focus on the history, ethics and philosophy of art conservation. You’ll also begin creating your portfolio and preparing for graduate school opportunities.


Our faculty members offer expertise in myriad topics, including chemistry and art history. They've also forged relationships with top companies throughout Chicago.

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