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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the relationship between Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study?

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) is devoted to the encouragement, the support, and the patronage of the learning of science. The Institute attracts scholars and scientists, who for the most part have already received a Ph.D. and who desire further, and usually informal, opportunities for research under the direction of a great master. The Institute embraces the characteristics of a university and of a research institute. However, it also differs in significant ways from both.

The IAS is unlike a university because of its small size. Its academic membership at any one time numbers slightly over a hundred. The IAS has no formal curriculum or scheduled courses of instruction, and also no commitment that all branches of learning be represented by its faculty and members. Unlike a research institute, the IAS supports many separate fields of study, maintains no laboratories, and welcomes temporary members. The intellectual development and growth of these members is one of its principal purposes.

Mrs. Louis Bamberger and his sister Mrs. Felix Fuld founded the Institute in 1930. The first director of the IAS was Abraham Flexner, who was succeeded in 1939 by Frank Aydelotte, in 1947 by Robert Oppenheimer, in 1966 by Carl Kaysen, and in 1976 by Harry Woolf. The current director is Peter Goddard. The trustees and faculty of Princeton University welcomed the IAS to Princeton and have made available to its staff and members all the resources in faculty, libraries, and facilities that the University possesses for advanced work. Originally housed in Fine Hall, the IAS soon developed its own institutional center in a square mile of beautifully wooded land at the southern edge of the town of Princeton.

From its beginning, the IAS was divided into two schools: the School of Mathematics, whose members are pure mathematicians and theoretical physicists; and the School of Historical Studies, which is broader in scope and includes all learning for which the use of historical methods is a principal instrument. The major interests of the faculty have been in Greek archaeology, philosophy, and philology; Roman history; medieval history; and the history of philosophy and science. As years passed, the School of Natural Sciences emerged. Its members are generally theoretical physicists, astrophysicists, and astronomers. Most recently the School of Social Science was added, emphasizing the use of the methods and perspectives of the various social sciences with the aim of making clear the processes of social change.

While the IAS and Princeton University are organically and administratively entirely distinct, the faculties and students of these two world respected institutions interact in a way that creates an intellectually stimulating atmosphere that is enjoyed by the members of both institutions.

For further information concerning The Institute for Advanced Study, please contact the Archives of the Institute for Advanced Study, Olden Lane, Princeton, NJ, 08540, by telephone (609-734-8375) or via email (

Related Sources

Historical Subject Files Collection, 1746-2005

Leitch, Alexander. A Princeton Companion. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978). Also available online.

Rosemary Switzer (2003)

Last modified: Tuesday, 24-Apr-2012 14:05:56 EDT