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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.


Applicants must meet these requirements: 1) be Studio Art Majors, 2) have a 3.3 cumulative grade point average or higher, AND 3) have completed at least two ARTS courses beyond Tier I.

Application Process

Students may apply to undertake a Senior Honors Thesis Project prior to the fall semester of their senior year. Students interested in applying should attend any informational meeting organized by the Department of Art and Art History and/or consult with the Undergraduate Advisor or Director of Undergraduate Studies for Studio Art during the semester before the beginning of the senior year.  The application portal opens in April prior to the start of the senior Honors year.  Applications must be received by the first day of the semester of the senior year. *

*Note that this is typically in the first day of classes of the fall semester, but for those intending to graduate in December, application must be completed by the first day of classes of the spring semester (January).  For December graduates, application to undertake a Senior Honors Project must be made directly to the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Studio Art. Contact the DUS in Studio Art for more information.

While students don’t need to have a faculty sponsor to apply, it is recommended that students identify a studio art faculty member willing to serve as their Honors Advisor prior to applying. This allows students to receive guidance on the application and ensures that this faculty member can accommodate your enrollment in an independent Honors project once approved.

Admission to the program is determined by a review of the student’s work by the entire 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 Honors 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 during the first week of the Fall semester, prior to the Add/Drop deadline.

To be approved to undertake a Senior Honors project, applications must receive a minimum of three positive votes and have at least one faculty member that agrees to serve as the Senior Honors Thesis Project advisor.

Advice for Honors Applications

Application Procedure

We use SlideRoom to review applications. Follow these steps to prepare materials for upload.

  1. REVIEW the Studio Art Honors information on this page to learn about what pursuing Honors entails.
  2. APPLICATION + PROPOSAL Fill out the Studio Art Honors Application and write a project proposal, (maximum 1000 words) outlining the motivating ideas for your senior honors thesis project. Combine these two documents into a single, multi-page pdf file.
  3. PORTFOLIO: Upload a digital portfolio that represents six to eight works of art. You are limited to 24 media uploads which can be images, video, audio and/or pdf files (most portfolios contain 8-10 uploads). You may include alternate views (recommended for sculpture in the round) and/or details. Do not submit details unless they truly provide additional information not evident in the image of the whole piece. You will be asked to provide label information in SlideRoom. Prepare this information in advance.
    • Images (jpg) – up to 5MB each
    • Video – up to 250MB each
    • Audio – up to 30MB each
    • PDFs – up to 10MB each
    • External media from YouTube, Vimeo, and SoundCloud
    • Additional information for time-based works: (video, animation, or performance documentation): You can submit the entire work, but indicate a 3-minute clip (note time-frame in the description) on which to base the review. If you are unable to upload the entire piece in SlideRoom you may link to an online video using a cloud-based platform like YouTube, Vimeo, or SoundCloud.
  1. UPLOAD Application+Proposal file and the Portfolio to SlideRoom.

Labels: You must label all entries with Title, Medium, Size, and, in the Description field, note whether this is a detail or an alternate view.  If any images or video are documentation of performative work, please make that clear in the description. Optional: For all works, you may provide a brief (about 50 words) additional description if this helps us understand the work.

Deadline for submissions: August 21, 2023

Questions? Contact Beth Grabowski (interim Director of Undergraduate Studies for Studio Art):

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 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 artwork to be produced, the statement may include coursework, 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. The student 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, the student will prepare a revised version of the project proposal. This statement should summarize the work 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. The student should meet with the Thesis Advisor early in the semester to affirm 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. Additionally, students must document visual work in digital form–either as a portfolio of individual works or video, and a documentation of the installation of the project.

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 to the statement required by the Thesis Committee,students will submit the final version of their thesis and visual documentation electronically via the Carolina Digital Repository (CDR) following the instructions found at How to Deposit your Your Honors Thesis in the CDR.

Submissions are due by the last day of class in the semester in which students complete their theses, which should provide ample time for any minor edits suggested by the defense committee. The University Library will catalog electronic theses and make them available to the public.

Each student’s thesis will be held in the CDR until after the student’s degree conferral date, when Honors Carolina will clear the thesis for online publication. Once published, theses will be publicly accessible via the Carolina Digital Repository website.

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.