Distinction in Art History

If you would like to seek distinction in Art History, you should talk with an Art History faculty member in the spring of your junior year about possible areas of research. Enrollment in Methods in Art History (Art 350), a required course for the major, that spring will greatly increase your chances. (If you plan to be off-campus for the spring semester of your junior year, talk with a member of the Art History faculty in the fall of your junior year in order to determine the best plan for carrying out research for distinction.)

In the spring of your junior year, before registration for fall classes, you should present your chosen research advisor with a proposal for your research with the information requested on the Registrar’s Independent Research (Art 398) Petition. In addition, briefly explain how the work you plan to do in the fall will likely demonstrate your interest in the field and should involve you in relatively sophisticated art historical pursuits. The faculty member will then decide from this proposal whether they will be able to work with you on your project.

If your proposal is approved, you will carry out your independent research project during the fall semester of your senior year as an advanced independent study in Art History (Art 398). You will write a paper that is around 30-40 pages in length or complete an equivalent project. This paper or project must be completed by the end of the fall semester. You will also be required to present your research publicly in the spring semester. The paper/project, or a revised version of it, must be submitted to your research adviser along with a statement of eligibility by the second Monday of the Spring semester. The adviser will share those items with the other Art History faculty. The statement needs to include your own brief explanation for why you should be considered an Art History distinction candidate, your grade point average and let us know how well you have done in Art courses, Art History courses, and courses related to the major (e.g., Aesthetics). Tell us other ways you have been acquiring and demonstrating a high level of art historical expertise (e.g., language and culture skills; museum, gallery, preservation society work; direct exposure to major works of art, etc.).

The Art and Art History faculty will then determine Departmental Distinction, and the department’s decision will be final. Your paper and presentation, however, will not be the only factors in the decision process. The College Catalog states that distinction is “awarded to students who have the qualities most valued in their discipline [and especially] the ability to produce independently work of the highest scholarly…standard consonant with his or her [presumed] training [as a major]. …While grade point averages may help a department to select its candidates for distinction, they must not be the only factor used.”

We most often award distinction to a student who has shown excellence from the beginning of his or her involvement with the major, has developed greater sophistication and drive over time, and then demonstrates this excellence in the thesis and presentation. A student who blooms late, showing clear excellence in his or her final semesters and through an exceptional thesis and presentation, may also receive Distinction.

Distinction Checklist

Spring of Junior Year:

1. Enrollment in Art 350, Methods of Art History
2. Complete Registrar’s Independent Research (Art 398) Petition and present it to your research advisor.

Fall of Senior Year:

3. Carry out research and complete 30-40 page paper or equivalent project

Interim of Senior Year:

4. If necessary, revise your research paper

Spring of Senior year:

5. Submit your distinction paper and your statement explaining your eligibility for distinction to the Art istory faculty at the beginning of the semester
6. Present your research publicly