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Senior Thesis and Departmental Honors

Honors in Art History

To be considered for honors in art history, students must meet three thresholds:

Applying to Write a Senior Thesis

Application to Write a Senior Thesis in Art History

If you are interested in writing a thesis during the 2024–25 academic year, please note that applications are due by Friday, May 17, 2024 at 5pm.

The Thesis: Writing and Advising 

The senior thesis takes the form of a major research paper, normally 25-30 pages long. The page limit does not include front matter, bibliography, and illustrations. The goal of the thesis is for the student to undertake an intensive research project beyond the expectations of an undergraduate course. The investigation can stem from the student’s personal interests or a topic explored in a course. During this process, the student will learn how to critically engage with primary and secondary sources, craft a cogent argument across several chapters, and present his or her research to a public audience. Some projects may involve archival work and in-person field studies, which may be made possible through research grants and fellowships. Completion of a senior thesis may lead to nomination for departmental honors in art history.

Starting in the fall of senior year, the thesis writer meets regularly with his or her advisor to structure, discuss, and evaluate his or her progress. The advisor sets guidelines and deadlines for writing, although it must be remembered that each 399 course is graded so the expectation is that students will turn in work that can be evaluated by the end of each quarter. Normally, the thesis writer submits at least one substantial portion of the thesis draft by the end of fall quarter, and a full draft before spring break.

In addition to meeting weekly or bi-weekly with the advisor, the thesis writer must also participate in the senior thesis colloquium. This is not a course, but a series of required meetings of all art history thesis writers convened by the DUS. The colloquium meets several times over the course of senior year. The purpose of these meetings is to bring thesis writers together into a community so that writers may learn about the various forms a thesis can take and can engage in the important project of peer-review. The DUS also prepares colloquium participants for the public presentations that take place at an annual Senior Thesis Symposium held in May of Spring Quarter.

The finished thesis manuscript should be emailed to the departmental office at by 11:59pm on the designated due date, which is in April as determined by the WCAS Dean's Office. Upon review, the department will provide at least two bound hardcopies of the thesis for the writer and his or her advisor. 

The Thesis: FOrmatting

The following sample document (forthcoming) can be consulted by thesis writers when preparing their manuscripts. Please note the department requires Chicago Manual of Style with short reference footnotes in the text and a complete bibliography following the text. You can reference CMS via the University Library website. Additional information on front and back matter follows. 

The following front matter must be included in this order:

Following the 25-30 page manuscript, the following back matter must be included:

Senior theses are evaluated on the originality and scope of the research they present, as well as the clarity of the manner in which they are written, organized, and argued. All senior theses are evaluated as passing or not-passing by the Committee on Undergraduate Affairs (CUA). This committee forwards its recommendations to the Weinberg Committee for Undergraduate Academic Excellence, which makes the final decision about departmental honors. The CUA also decides which theses might be awarded a J. Carson Webster Prize for Distinguished Honors Thesis, the department award for best honors thesis. On occasion, this award is shared by more than one thesis.

Dual Honors and Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies

Students who are interested in pursuing Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies, or in two departments, should meet with the DUS and consult the following links:

Procedures for Students Interested in Pursuing Honors in Two Departments or Programs

Application for Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Projects (DOC)

Please be advised that the deadline to apply to Weinberg College for permission for such honors is May 21, so plan to begin the process early in the spring quarter.

Header Image: Senior Thesis Symposium, May 13, 2024.