Skip to main content


The program in studio art at UNC-Chapel Hill focuses on fine arts. Students may choose from a range of studio course work designed to develop both skill acquisition and a personal creative vision. For the non-major, study in studio art goes beyond art appreciation. Whatever discipline students eventually choose to pursue, whether the arts, humanities or sciences, medicine or law, success will depend on two abilities: the ability to find creative solutions to problems and the ability to express individuality. Art, by its very nature, gives these skills to those who study the discipline. We have the opportunity to provide all students, regardless of major, the keys to success. We develop two critical skills: the means of self-expression and techniques for creative thinking. Our added responsibility to the studio art major is to develop a sense of professional standards and future career potential. While the undergraduate program focuses on the fine arts, the course of study nonetheless offers a sound foundation for students to move into the art education, applied arts, and other art-related careers as well as preparing for further study or careers in the fine arts.

Teaching Philosophy & Learning Outcomes

Students choosing a studio art major begin with a series of foundation courses that are designed to develop their understanding and application of visual language across a range of media. In these courses, students address both skill development and the nature of artistic inquiry. Believing that technique serves the visual idea, we stress the integration of media skill and concept. Conventional issues of artisanship, technique, and skill acquisition are taught as part of a larger concept of art making. The goal is to equip students with a variety of skills and visual strategies that they will be able to apply in meaningful contexts. In the final analysis, we expect students to become technically competent, conceptually independent, critically aware, and dedicated to their passion of art-making.

This philosophy encompasses our contextualization in an institution of higher education. We embrace the notion that being an artist today requires an intellectual curiosity and broad base of knowledge that, in turn, informs studio work. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides limitless resources to the studio artists in our program.

Degree Offerings in Studio Art

The Department of Art & Art History offers two undergraduate degrees in Studio Art: the Bachelor of Arts (36 credit hours) and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (60 credit hours). Additionally, a combined Studio/Art History degree has been designed for those wishing to have a depth of study in both programmatic areas in the Art Department. The Studio component of the Bachelor of Fine Arts w/ Art History Emphasis (60 credit hours) parallels the BA degree with some exceptions as noted.

**Studio Courses & Non-Majors

Studio Art courses, especially foundation-level courses, are extremely popular. Because these are required courses for Studio Art majors, registration is limited to majors during the first part of the pre-registration period. Remaining spaces are made available to non-majors during the registration time for freshmen. Because the department gives this preference to Studio Art majors, non-majors, undeclared students, or continuing studies students often find it difficult to enroll in these courses. Individuals seriously considering a Studio Art major who experience such difficulty should see the Undergraduate Advisor for Studio Art. We reserve a small number of spaces for such students. Students may be asked to demonstrate commitment to Studio Art with some examples of artwork.

Click here for the UNC Catalog.


Independent Study in Studio Art (ARTS 596) allows students to pursue additional media or thematic study after completing substantial work in studio courses. Students work at an advanced level and, with one-on-one faculty guidance, set an individual program of study. Although not required, it is typical for students to have worked with the faculty member in prior contexts. This course will vary with each faculty member and student according to defined objectives.

Application Procedures

It is imperative to contact the faculty member you wish to work with before the semester starts. You will be asked to demonstrate your ability to work independently. You should be prepared to provide work samples (portfolio) as part of this request process. You should also expect to discuss a preliminary proposal for the semester. If the faculty member does not agree, the process stops here. (Although you may seek permission from another faculty member)

If the faculty member agrees to do independent study with you, you will need to submit a written proposal outlining the guiding principles and work you propose to do. See details governing the proposal in the requirements section of the downloadable syllabus (below).

Independent study contracts are required by the College of Arts and Sciences. This document describes your plan of interaction with the faculty member. The contract must be signed by the faculty member and approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Submit the contract and proposal for approval to the DUS during the registration period but no later than the second day of classes for the semester. Please note that if you wait until the beginning of the semester for approval, that the timeframe for approval is very tight. It is the student’s responsibility to set the whole process in motion in a timely manner. Students may not enroll without a contract signed by all parties: student, supervising faculty and Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Submit the completed and approved contract as an email attachment to, and await a confirmation email. You should receive confirmation of enrollment within three business days.

Download Application Forms

ARTS 596 Independent Study Syllabus
ARTS 596 Independent Study Contract


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 3.3 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 Honors Carolina 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 Honors Carolina, 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 Honors Carolina 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.


The Department of Art strongly supports the University’s conviction that Study abroad should be an integral part of higher education as it diversifies and broadens liberal education in ways not possible to realize on the home campus. By offering students the chance to live and to study in a foreign setting, study abroad extends their intellectual horizons and encourages them to become more self-reliant, empathetic, and sensitive to other cultures. Such experiences have the potential to make students more open, thoughtful and competitive in an increasingly global and cosmopolitan world.


As artists and art historians, we realize that the once insular art world has become far more international in scope, and we recognize the advantage of studying works of art firsthand. We would like all students to have that experience. Our faculty is a diverse one with interests in cultures and countries around the globe.  We therefore understand the life altering experience that study abroad can provide, and we encourage students to consider studying in the various programs offered by the University’s Study Abroad Office. We also urge students to explore opportunities to travel abroad provided by the Burch Fellows program, the Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship, the Department of Art & Art History’s Allcott Travel Award, and the Dwayne Lowder Study Abroad Art Scholarships.

Study Abroad with Affiliate Programs

The University expects each study abroad program to meet UNC-Chapel Hill’s high academic standards and to integrate into the University’s curriculum.  It therefore accepts the responsibility to coordinate among relevant academic and administrative units on and off campus. Currently the department has affiliations with the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland and in Florence, Italy, the Lorenzo de Medici Institute and SACI: Studio Arts College International.  We continue to work to expand our affiliations and to increase the study abroad opportunities for our students.

Study Abroad with Faculty-led Programs

Being a Pilgrim: Art, Ritual and Landscapes of the Camino de Santiago — Summer (Mario Marzan and Roxana Perez-Mendez)


All majors and minors have two advisors; a primary academic advisor from the Academic Advising Program and departmental advisors for program-specific planning. Students are strongly encouraged to meet regularly with both advisors and review their Tar Heel Tracker each semester. The undergraduate advisor in studio art works with current and prospective majors and minors by appointment. Departmental academic advising is particularly important for those majors who are considering honors thesis work or graduate school.

Academic Advising Program

The mission of the University-wide Academic Advising Program is to assist students of all disciplines with their academic planning while providing a foundation for appropriate academic decisions throughout their undergraduate studies. Visit their website to schedule an appointment, declare a major/minor, or explore additional resources.

Departmental Advising for Studio Art

The Director of Undergraduate Studies and Advisor for Studio Art is available to provide degree planning assistance and academic advising specific to Studio Art Majors and Minors. For answers to quick administrative questions, especially in regard to course enrollment, please contact the Student Services Specialist. Visit the Administration and Staff portion of our website for a current listing of Departmental faculty and staff members filling these roles.

Degree Planning Worksheets
It is helpful if you can fill out a worksheet prior to meeting with the Undergraduate Advisor. Download the worksheet that corresponds to the requirement term indicated in your Tar Heel Tracker. If you prefer to satisfy the requirements of the most current term, we will work with you so that you are not penalized based on coursework completed to satisfy a different term.

  • Studio Art BA, requirement terms: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Studio Art BFA, requirement terms: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Studio Art BFA w/ Art History Emphasis, requirement terms: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Studio Art Minor, requirement terms: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018