Our Program

Established in 2003 with the first cohort of MA students entering in 2005, the UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage is the only academic program in the Western United States devoted to conservation research and training, and the only one nationally to focus on archaeological and Indigenous materials.

The three-year MA degree trains students in the theory and practice conserving archaeological and Indigenous materials. Since the 2019 launch of the doctoral program, the UCLA/Getty Program is one of two conservation programs in the U.S. that offer PhD degrees. The PhD degree is focused on the conservation of material culture. Students who complete the program are educated not only in the principles, science, and practice of conservation ensuring the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage, but also in leadership and problem solving to address complex issues including climate change, illicit trade, and community engagement.

The Program currently accepts five MA students and three PhD students every other year. Given the rigorous application process, the quality of students is consistently high and acceptance is very competitive. The Program has graduated a total of forty-three MA students who are now leading conservation efforts for cultural heritage institutions nationally and around the world.

In addition to the two graduate degrees, the Program offers the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Education Program that aims to increase diversity in conservation by training undergraduate students from underrepresented populations.

Cultural heritage conservation is multidisciplinary in that it draws on knowledge and skills from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and information technology. Located at a premier research university, UCLA/Getty is the only graduate conservation program in the United States where faculty have interdepartmental affiliations. Faculty are appointed in Art History, Information Studies, and Materials Science and Engineering. The Faculty Advisory Committee is composed of faculty located in an even broader range of disciplines. Embedded in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, students are also in contact with scholars who study the ancient world in departments across the campus. This unique interdisciplinarity allows students to engage with other fields of study, and prepares them to practice cross-professional collaboration.

As part of their training, students research and work on collections from the Fowler Museum and other collecting institutions. Over the years the Program has forged relationships and partnered on initiatives with these institutions, including those run by tribal nations. Collaboration not only involves collections research but exchange of information with tribal leaders and other community representatives.

We are proud of our association with the Getty Conservation Institute and Getty Museum. The Getty co-founded the Program and financed the world class conservation and research laboratories at the Getty Villa in Malibu. The Program retains a close relationship with scientists at the GCI, and conservators and curators at the museums. Getty staff frequently lecture and provide demonstrations in courses.

In addition to the three tenured professors, there is a full time Lab Manager and a half time Student Affairs Officer. Additional administration is provided by staff at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.