Honors in Art History

Students seeking honors in art history undertake an independent, two-semester research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor, which results in a senior thesis. This project offers qualified students a unique experience to formulate a research question, master the relevant literature, and make an original contribution to the field, all under the guidance of a faculty tutor who has expertise in the topic. Students pursuing senior theses enroll in a two-semester tutorial (ARHA 409/410).

A successfully completed honors thesis demonstrates an ability to identify an original question, propose a research methodology, and work independently to achieve a significant outcome. These are skills that are very much in demand across a variety of professions.

Our graduates who have gone on to pursue postgraduate degrees in fields distant from art history (whether in law, medicine, or business) have found an honors thesis to be the most meaningful and significant part of their academic career. An honors thesis is particularly suited to students who are considering graduate studies in the humanities or related fields. The demonstrated ability to successfully complete a yearlong independent research project comprises the single most important component of an application to an MA or PhD program.

Candidates for honors are required to earn a minimum GPA of B+ for their major coursework and to be compliant with the University's General Education Expectations (through Stage 2).

Students wishing to consider an honors project should begin discussing ideas with relevant faculty tutors towards the beginning of the spring semester of their junior year. In order to receive full consideration, students must submit an application (linked below), which is due on the third Friday of February. Applications to write senior theses include the following information:

  • A brief description of up to three possible topics (1 paragraph each)
  • A list of up to three possible advisors who have indicated a preliminary willingness and availability to serve as tutors. Students are expected to have taken at least one course with any requested faculty tutors. A preliminary agreement to serve as tutor is not a guarantee.
  • Relevant coursework related to the research topics

Faculty advisors will be assigned to students based on student interest and faculty availability; submitting an application does not guarantee that a thesis project will be approved. Assignments will be announced by the end of the first week of March.

After receiving their tutor assignment, thesis writers are expected to carry out preliminary research during the summer after their junior year and are required to submit a detailed proposal and preliminary bibliography for the project by the first Monday after classes start during the fall term of the senior year.

Juniors who have research projects that necessitate travel may apply for a Paoletti Research Travel Grant in March of their junior year to fund thesis research and travel over the summer before their senior year. See wesleyan.edu/art/arthist/travel_fellowships.html.

In addition to conforming to the University's general requirements and deadlines for honors, candidates in art history participate in a senior colloquium that meets in October and February and culminates in April in “senior talks,” 20-minute public presentations based on students’ completed theses.

For more information and an application form, see the document "Honors in Art History: Regulations and Procedures," available in the department office and via download:

Request to Undertake a Senior Thesis (Spring of Junior Year)

Application for Admission to Candidacy for Honors (Fall Senior Year)

Honors in Art History: Regulations and Procedures

Evaluation of Art History Honors Projects