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Independent Study Program (ISP)

The Independent Study Program (ISP) consists of three interrelated parts: Studio Program, Critical Studies Program, and Curatorial Program. The ISP provides a setting within which students pursuing art practice, curatorial work, art historical scholarship, and critical writing engage in ongoing discussions and debates that examine the historical, social, and intellectual conditions of artistic production. The program encourages the theoretical and critical study of the practices, institutions, and discourses that constitute the field of culture.

Each year fifteen students are selected to participate in the Studio Program, four in the Curatorial Program, and six in the Critical Studies Program. Curatorial and critical studies students are designated as Helena Rubinstein Fellows in recognition of the substantial support provided to the program by the Helena Rubinstein Foundation. The program begins in early September and concludes at the end of the following May. Many of the participants are enrolled at universities and art schools and receive academic credit for their participation, while others have recently completed their formal studies.

Explore the ISP 40th anniversary book

Independent Study Program seminar with artist Donald Judd at his studio in 1974. On Judd’s right is Ron Clark, and on his left is artist Julian Schnabel. Photograph courtesy Barbara Quinn and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York


Studio Program

Philip Cartelli
Tony Chrenka
Eli Coplan
Giulia Gabrielli
Utsa Hazarika
Jack Hogan
Kyle Bellucci Johanson
Ayesha Kamal Khan
Sophie Kovel
Emilio Martínez Poppe
Anna Rubin
Chi Yin Sim

Critical Studies Program

Critical Studies participants engage in individual scholarly research and critical writing projects through tutorials with a professional art historian, critic, or cultural theorist. The program’s faculty arranges tutorials and provides additional advice and guidance. A symposium is held in May at the Whitney, at which the Critical Studies students present papers.

Madison Hampton
Sophia Larigakis
Dahlia Li
Jazmín Lopez
Sonya Merutka
Max Tolleson

Curatorial Program

Curatorial students collaborate to produce an exhibition. Margaret Liu Clinton, the exhibition supervisor and curators at the Whitney, the students develop proposals for the exhibition. Once a proposal has been approved by the Museum’s curators, the students proceed to select artworks, arrange loans, and design and oversee the installation of the exhibition. The students write essays for and participate in the production of a catalogue accompanying their exhibition.

KJ Abudu
Zachary Feldman
Emily Small
Johanna Thorell


May 20–29, 2022

Curated by Daría Sól Andrews, Sally Eaves Hughes, and Klaudia Ofwona Draber, the 2021–22 Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Whitney Independent Study Program.

Curated by Weiyi Chang, Sofia Jamal, Colleen O’Connor, and Patricio Orellana, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2019–20.

Curated by Nia Nottage, Gwyneth Shanks, and Simon Wu, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2018–19.

Curated by Elisa R. Linn, Joseph Lubitz, Ellen Pavey, and Manabu Yahagi, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2017–18.

Curated by Magdalyn Asimakis, Jared Quinton and Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program,  2016–17. 

Curated by Daniella Rose King, Viktor Neumann, Samuele Piazza, and Kari Rittenbach, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2015–16.

Curated by Alexander Fleming, Anya Komar, and Blair Murphy, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2014–15.

Curated by Maria Teresa Annarumma, Molly Everett, Joo Yun Lee, and Kristine Jærn Pilgaard, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2013–14.

Curated by Nina Horisaki-Christens, Andrea Neustein, Victoria Rogers, and Jason Waite, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2012–13.

Curated by Anik Fournier, Michelle Lim, Amanda Parmer and Robert Wuilfe, Whitney Independent Study Program Curatorial Fellows, 2009–2010.

Curated by denisse andrade, Liz Park, Tim Saltarelli, and Kristina Scepanski, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, 2011–12.

Curated by Jennifer Burris, Sofía Olascoaga, Sadia Shirazi, and Gaia Tedone, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Whitney Independent Study Program, 2010–11.

Course Structure

The faculty of the ISP is available to meet individually with all members of the program to discuss their work or more general practical, theoretical, or historical questions. The program’s regular and visiting faculty members are Mary Kelly, Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Laura Mulvey, Isaac Julien, Gregg Bordowitz, Andrea Fraser, Chantal Mouffe, Alex Alberro, Nora Alter, Cassandra Guan, and Soyoung Yoon.

Each week during the year, a professional artist, theorist, or historian conducts a seminar at the program. Members of all three components of the program participate in these seminars, which focus on the work of the seminar leader. In addition, all members of the program participate in a weekly reading seminar in social and cultural theory led by members of the program’s visiting faculty. This seminar provides an occasion for the group to collectively study and discuss contemporary critical theory. There is a particular emphasis on the methodologies of critical cultural studies and social art history.

Artist Fred Wilson preparing to lead a seminar at the ISP space at 384 Broadway, 1993.

Alex Alberro
Nora Alter
Emily Apter
Carol Armstrong
Homi Bhabha
Gregg Bordowitz
Benjamin Buchloh
Matthew Buckingham
Judith Butler
Jonathan Crary
Thomas Crow
Rosalyn Deutsche
Mark Dion
Silvia Federici
Hal Foster
Andrea Fraser 
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Coco Fusco
Jennifer González
Isabelle Graw
Renée Green
Cassandra Guan
Hans Haacke
David Harvey
Sharon Hayes
Thomas Hirschhorn
Jenny Holzer
Chrissie Iles
Alfredo Jaar
Emily Jacir
Gareth James
Isaac Julien
Geeta Kapur
Mary Kelly
Silvia Kolbowski
Miwon Kwon
Louise Lawler
Park McArthur
Tom McDonough
Kobena Mercer
Chantal Mouffe
Laura Mulvey
Mark Nash
Molly Nesbit
Christiane Paul
Adrian Piper
Yvonne Rainer
Martha Rosler
Andrew Ross
Gayatri Spivak
Hito Steyerl
Anthony Vidler
Fred Wilson
Yes Men
Soyoung Yoon

What's New

Roy Lichtenstein Studio Project

The Whitney Museum of American Art is transforming artist Roy Lichtenstein’s Greenwich Village studio into a permanent home for the ISP.

Learn More


All applicants must include:

  • A clear indication of which program (studio, critical, or curatorial) you are applying for
  • A resume or C.V. including name, address, and telephone number (school and/or permanent)
  • School you are currently attending or have attended, degree program, and expected date of graduation (may be included in your C.V.)
  • Two letters of recommendation (may be sent under separate cover)
  • A statement discussing your work, educational experience, and intellectual interests (no more than 2 pages)
  • An application fee of $15 (make check order payable to Whitney Museum of American Art)

In addition to the general application, all Studio Program applicants must also include:

  • Reproductions of examples of your recent work—No more than 15 high resolution print-outs, photos, or slides (slides must be enclosed in plastic sleeves). No more than 30 minutes of film or video on a DVD or USB flash drive. Please do not send CD-ROMs.
  • Application materials must be enclosed in no larger than a 9 x 12-inch envelope. Oversize material will not be reviewed.

In addition to the general application, all Critical Studies applicants must also include:

  • Writing sample (no more than 15 pages)
  • An individual research project proposal (no more than 4 pages)

In addition to the general application, all Curatorial Program applicants must also include:

  • Writing sample (no more than 15 pages)
  • An exhibition proposal (no more than 2 pages)

Those eligible for participation in the ISP include graduate students, candidates for advanced postgraduate degrees, undergraduates with a demonstrated capacity for advanced scholarship, or those who have recently completed formal academic study. The ISP welcomes international applications and can provide a J-1 cultural visa if needed.

Credit may be granted by the students’ home universities for work done in the ISP. Most cooperating schools grant twelve to sixteen credits for participation in the program. Students need to make the necessary arrangements to receive credit.

Tuition for the program is $1,800 per year. Financial assistance in the form of reduced tuition is available on the basis of need.

If you are interested in applying for the 2023–2024 academic year, please revisit this site in early March 2023. 

We thank you for your patience as we are currently updating the application process so that applications might be received digitally.

If you have further inquiries, please email:

After a preliminary review of applications by the program’s faculty, arrangements will be made to interview final candidates. Studio Program and Critical Studies Program applicants will be contacted in late April; Curatorial Program applicants will be contacted in early May.

There is no application form. Please do not apply to more than one program at a time.

Application materials will be treated with care; however, the program cannot be responsible for loss or damage. Application materials will be returned only if a stamped self-addressed envelope is enclosed with the application. It is not possible to pick up your application materials in person.

Generous support for the Independent Study Program is provided endowments created by Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, and the Helena Rubinstein Foundation.

Significant support is provided by The Capital Group Charitable Foundation and Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa.

Additional support is provided by an endowment created by George S. Harris.



A 30-second online art project:
Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Sky/World Death/World

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