The Senior Thesis Honors Program in Studio Art is designed to enable senior studio art majors to pursue serious and substantial work that may qualify them to graduate “with honors” or “with highest honors.”

Students who pursue this program may work in any variety of media, but must produce a coherent body of work by the end of the two-semester sequence. This work constitutes the Honors Thesis and will be presented at an exhibition or approved alternative public display along with a written statement concerning the work.


Studio art majors with a UNC-Chapel Hill grade point average of 3.2 are eligible to apply for the Honors program. Students must have a faculty sponsor to apply, and should have completed at least two intermediate-level studio art courses. It is preferred that applicants have also completed some course work at the advanced level. Applicants should be aware that it might be necessary for some students to achieve sufficient maturity for eligibility, so an additional semester in residence may be necessary for the successful completion of the Honor’s Thesis.

Application Procedure

Students usually apply for the Senior Thesis Honors Program during the last semester of their junior year.* Students interested in applying should attend any informational meeting organized by the Department of Art and/or consult with the Undergraduate Advisor for Studio Art [link] during the second semester of the Junior year. The Undergraduate Advisor will clarify the details of eligibility, application and program requirements, and will provide application forms.

*Note that this is typically late in the spring semester, but should take place at the end of the fall semester for those intending to graduate in December. In special instances – such as for students studying abroad and therefore unavailable for a scheduled review – students may apply to the Honors Program during the first week of the senior year. However, students anticipating such a need should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Studio Art to determine eligibility

Admission to the program is determined through nomination by a faculty sponsor and a review of the student’s work by the studio faculty. The faculty considers all elements of the student’s application in making acceptance decisions. Each applicant must submit:

  • a completed application
  • a selection of 8-10 works of art*
  • a proposal for the intended Honor’s inquiry

The work submitted for review does not necessarily have to be along the same lines as the intended Honors project, but it should demonstrate the student’s capability to perform mature visual research. Reviews of application materials for the Honors Program take place annually in mid-April.

*It is preferable to submit actual works of art, but if original works are unavailable, representations of art works may also be submitted in the form of slides or digital images. In the case of video, installation, site-specific, or similarly elaborate work, the number of pieces may be negotiated through consultation with the student’s faculty sponsor.

Procedure for Honors Enrollment

Once the student’s proposal has been accepted, s/he must choose a faculty member to serve as the Thesis Advisor. This faculty member-typically the student’s application sponsor-must be in residence at UNC-CH during both semesters of the student’s Honors study.

The student should register for ARTS 691H during the first semester of Honors work and ARTS 692H during the second semester.

The Thesis Advisor and the student will confer and choose two additional faculty members to serve on the Honors Committee. One of the three committee members may be from a department other than the Department of Art. Within two weeks of the beginning of the first Honors semester, the student should submit a consent form to the Department Honors Advisor indicating the names of the committee members.

How to Apply for Honors Funding

Students who wish to apply for funding from the UNC-Chapel Hill Honors Program should consult with their Thesis Advisor and the Department of Art Honors advisor. Applicants submit proposals to the department, where they are then ranked by the faculty and submitted as a group to the Honor’s Program office. The competition for these awards takes place early in the fall semester (late September or early October). The deadline for submission of applications to the Art Department is one week prior to the Honors Office deadline. For current deadlines, check the Honors Office website.

Procedures for Completing the Honors Project

ARTS 691H (first semester)

Using the application proposal as a point of departure and in consultation with the Thesis Advisor, the student will define the inquiry to be undertaken in the Honors project. By the third week of the semester, the student must have prepared a statement of the project to be undertaken and submitted it to the members of the Thesis Committee. This statement should be both technical and conceptual in scope, and should outline the motivating ideas behind the student’s project, as well as her/his goals for the first semester of work on it. In addition to the proposed art work to be produced, the statement may include course work, reading, or any relevant research to be conducted as deemed appropriate by the student and the members of the committee.

The members of the Thesis Committee will evaluate the proposal, considering process, media, and conceptual motivations. During the semester, the student must meet regularly with the Thesis Advisor (at least every two weeks) and other committee members (every 3-4 weeks) to refine and focus the project as it progresses. The student is responsible for scheduling these meetings and maintaining contact with the members of the committee. S/he should be prepared to show work in progress and to discuss the development of the issues addressed in the project. The student should inform the committee members of her/his progress in all areas of the project, including research.

At the end of the first semester of Honors work, he student will prepare a revised version of the original project proposal. This statement should summarize the work s/he has completed during the first semester and refine the parameters of the project to be completed during the next semester. This document should address:

  • the motivating concerns behind the work
  • influences (other artists, readings, other fields of study, etc.)
  • the path of the exploration-how the student arrived at the current state of the work
  • any relevant technical/process exploration (i.e., anything that contributed to new realizations or interpretations/insights about the possible content of the work)

The members of the Thesis Committee will review the student’s revised statement and provide feedback on which the student will base her/his work during the second semester.

ARTS 692H (second semester)

During the final semester, the student must focus the work in preparation for exhibition. S/he should meet with the Thesis Advisor early in the semester to establish goals for the semester. Regular meetings with all three committee members should continue during this time as well.

Note: All Honors work must be completed by the deadline set by the UNC Honors Program, which is typically early- to mid- April, or two to three weeks before the end of the semester.

Early in the second semester, the student must begin planning for the Honors Exhibition. To coincide with the Honors Program deadlines, the Department reserves two weeks in mid-April for exhibiting in the main John and June Allcott Gallery and in the John and June Allcott Undergraduate Gallery. Students who plan to exhibit their work in these spaces will meet with the other Honors candidates to discuss exhibition logistics, negotiate space allocations and plan exhibition publicity.

It is not mandatory that students exhibit their work within the departmental facilities, and use of an alternative site is encouraged if the limitations of the departmental facilities are not desirable for the student’s work. However, it is the student’s responsibility to make any necessary alternate arrangements.

Students should also schedule the Oral Thesis Defense early in the final semester. Consult the UNC Honors Program website, for information regarding the deadline for the Oral Defense meeting.

During the second semester, Honors students must also prepare a final Thesis Statement to accompany the visual artifacts to be exhibited. This document should expand on the ideas addressed in the preliminary project statement and should be submitted to the Thesis Advisor in draft form and then revised before it is submitted to the entire Thesis Committee. The student must submit a final draft of the written statement to the members of the Thesis Committee no later than one week before the scheduled Oral Defense meeting. Students should note that the Thesis Statement is auxiliary to the visual artifacts. For questions of style and format for the written statement, students should consult a style manual such as MLA or the Chicago Manual of Style.

At the Oral Defense, the student should bring three copies of the Thesis Statement and cover sheet to be signed by the members of the Thesis Committee. At the end of the Oral Defense, the members of the committee will discuss whether to recommend the student for graduation with honors. The student will be verbally informed of the committee’s decision and the committee members will sign a document indicating their decision to be submitted to the Honors Program office. If the student’s project is approved, the members of the Thesis Committee will also sign a departmental form stating their approval, as well as the cover sheet of the Thesis Statement.

After completing any changes required by the Thesis Committee, the student will submit two copies of the Thesis Statement to the Department Honors Advisor by the date of graduation. The materials submitted should include both the Thesis Statement and photographic documentation of the thesis work and/or exhibition. One copy of the Thesis Statement is deposited in Wilson Library, which requires that it be on regulation bond paper (100% rag or cotton fiber and 16 or 20 lb. weight) and have a left margin of 1.25″. The print quality should be clear and easy to read. The second copy of the Thesis Statement is deposited in the Sloane Art Library. It should be on good quality paper and placed in some form of binding. Copies of the cover sheet are bound with each copy of the project statement.

In the event that a student elects to withdraw from the Honors Program, or if the thesis work, statement and/or oral examination are found to be inadequate, the Thesis Advisor will assign an appropriate letter grade and the student will graduate without honors.