Degree Requirements


PhD students in the Conservation of Material Culture are required to obtain 40 units of coursework and 8 units of mentored-research experience. Full time graduate students must register for a minimum of 12 units per quarter. These 12 units can be made up of a combination of required core coursework (28 Units), mentored-research experience (8 Units) and other courses including prelim and qualifying exam preparation, and PhD research. Students’ courses, as well as, any changes of coursework throughout the quarter, must be approved both by the faculty dissertation advisor and graduate advisor prior to registering for classes each quarter.

Students with master’s degrees from UCLA or another recognized institution can petition to have up to 12 units (3 graduate level courses) from their master’s degree recognized towards the PhD degree requirement. UCLA students who have already taken the required core courses may petition to replace these with other relevant (to their field of specialization) courses.

Field Work

Additional Special Requirements

Mentored-research experience: CAEM 290 (8 Units) 

This required mentored research-based conservation project aims to complement the cluster area courses and introduces students to the conservation challenges while helping students gain research experience and skills in the field. This requirement may be satisfied by participation in a research project at a museum, conservation or science laboratory/national facility, archaeological project, NGO and industry.

Teaching Experience
At least one quarter of Teaching Experience is strongly encouraged. For PhD candidates interested in academic and leading careers, teaching experience not only provides additional communication and pedagogical skills but also additional qualifications that will increase their competitiveness as leaders. Teaching assistantship opportunities can be supported through other departments and programs at UCLA.

Oral Preliminary Examination
The Oral Preliminary Examination encompasses the body of knowledge in the Conservation of Material Culture at the level equivalent to that required for a master’s degree. It may be taken prior to completing all required coursework, and students are encouraged to take it before completing their sixth quarter. Students must choose 4 out of 5 subjects for the oral preliminary examination (30 minutes for each subject) and must pass all four 4-subject examinations they choose to take. The 5 subjects are: 1) Chemistry and properties of material culture; 2) Environment and environmental deterioration of material culture; 3) Conservation methods and materials (polymers, chelating agents, solvents, inorganic mineral consolidants etc.); 4) Documentation and characterization of material culture and 5) Conservation principles and ethics.  Students may not take Oral Preliminary Examination more than twice.

Written Qualifying Examination
The following is a description of the standard Written Qualifying Examination, but students and their advisers may agree up an alternate model. The standard model consists of a take home examination, typically of four research questions based on four different topics relevant to the student’s doctoral research. The topics are agreed upon in advance between the student and advisers. They may develop six questions, four of which will be selected by the advisers for the exam. Each research question is answered in the form of a fully cited review paper of approximately 2000-2500 words excluding references, notes and captions. The paper should include an abstract, an introductory paragraph, the main body and conclusions, up to four figures or tables (optional), and 15-20 references. The standard time frame for the written exam is 480 hours (20 days) for completing the four papers. All papers are submitted together at the end of day 20 (completion of 480 hours). The written examination is graded by members of the doctoral committee as Pass, No Pass. Students may not take the Written Qualifying Examination more than twice.

University Oral Qualifying Examination
A dissertation prospectus must be submitted to the doctoral committee members two to four weeks before the exam. Students will need to complete Archaeology M201C or another approved doctoral research methods course in order to develop the prospectus. The prospectus should be a minimum of 8,000 to 10,000 words and include a timeline, research design, and an innovative bibliography that represents a diversity of approaches to examining the research subject. The nature and content of the University Oral Qualifying Examination are at the discretion of the doctoral committee. The exam is a review of the student’s prospectus. The student’s presentation should convey to the doctoral committee that the prospectus is a meritorious proposal for a PhD.

All students are required to take the University Oral Qualifying Examination by the end of the fall quarter of their third year (seventh quarter from admission to the PhD Program). The committee’s decision to advance a student to candidacy, to allow the student to repeat all or part of the oral, or to disqualify the student, is based on the student’s overall record at UCLA as reflected in coursework and examinations, and the student’s research ability and productivity.

Advancement to Candidacy
Students are advanced to candidacy (ATC) upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.  Normative time for advancement to candidacy is six quarters.

Doctoral Dissertation
The program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research, that constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study. It is expected that students will file their dissertation within fifteen quarters.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)
The final oral examination, or viva voce, takes place only after all other degree requirements have been met. In this exam, doctoral candidates demonstrate to their committee satisfactory command of all aspects of the work presented, including original thought, performance of independent research that constitutes a distinct contribution in response to a need in the field of material culture conservation and other related subjects, if applicable.

Master’s Degree (en route to the PhD)
The Conservation of Material Culture MS degree is not intended to be a stand-alone, terminal degree and should not be confused with the practice-focused  MA degree in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage, also offered by the Conservation IDP. Students in the PhD degree Program may choose to receive the MS degree while in progress to the PhD degree.

For the award of the MS Degree all required courses (core and elective area courses) as well as the oral preliminary and written qualifying examination required for ATC in the PhD Program need to be fulfilled. Students need to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. Mentored-research experience requirement equivalent to 8 Units is also required for the MS degree.

The normative time-to-degree (TTD) for the MS degree Program is 2 years (6Q) from the time of admission to the Program. The maximum time-to-degree is 3 years.