Degree Requirements

Major in Art History


Courses in the Department of Art History
  • 2 200-level courses
  • 9 300-level courses, including:
    • Art History 391: Undergraduate Methods Seminar, ideally taken in your junior year, especially if you want to write an honors thesis;
    • at least 1 Art history 390 or 395 seminar;
    • at least 1 Art history course in the each of the following four art historical categories: 1) Ancient and/or Medieval; 2) Renaissance and/or Baroque; 3) Modern; 4) Non-Euro-American.
  • 1 course in Art Theory and Practice, or a related studio practice course as per DUS approval.
Related courses
  • 4 additional courses at the 200- or 300-level in related fields of study as offered by WCAS or the School of Communications. To count towards the major, no more than 2 of these courses may be in the same department.

Minor in Art History


  • 8 Art History Department courses, of which 2 (and no more than 2) must be at the 200-level and at least 1 must be in a non-Euro-American area of art historical enquiry.

Honors in Art History

Students may be nominated for honors in art history upon:

  • Demonstrating a distinguished record in the major, including maintaining a grade point average of 3.5 within the major
  • Completing a senior honors thesis, prepared during two quarters of Independent Study during the fall and winter quarters of the senior year. Normally, these courses are regular AH 399s and are supervised by the thesis advisor. Permission codes to register for these classes are administered by the department office. In some instance, one of these courses may be substituted by a 399 in another department (for students considering interdisciplinary honors) or by an AH 390 seminar (if the thesis develops specifically from the 390 seminar). Please note that only one of the 2 required 399 courses counts towards the major course requirements. The honors thesis is due in mid-late April of the senior year. Late submissions will not be accepted for consideration.
  • Participating in the honors colloquium, which meets several times over the course of the senior year.


Students who wish to be considered for honors in art history must apply to write an honors thesis in the spring of their junior year (in some cases, the DUS may allow for a late application in the very early fall of the senior year). Each applicant submits to the DUS an "Application to Write an Honors Thesis Form," which details the topic of the thesis and the name of the faculty who has agreed to serve as advisor to the project. This application must be signed by the thesis advisor and accompanied by proof of a 3.5 GPA within the major.

The Thesis: Writing, Advising, and Finished Form

The senior honors thesis takes the form of a major research paper, normally 25-30 pages long. The goal of the thesis is to make an original intervention into a field of art historical study. This intervention can involve research that uncovers new knowledge, yields a new critical or theoretical interpretation, or, ideally, presents a combination of the two ambitions. Advisors work with individual thesis writers to formulate viable projects that adhere to the parameters of the writer's subfield and area of enquiry.

Starting in the fall of senior year, the thesis writer meets regularly with his or her advisor to structure, discuss, and evaluate his or her progress. The advisor sets guidelines and deadlines for writing, although it must be remembered that each 399 course is graded so the expectation is that students will turn in work that can be evaluated by the end of each quarter. Normally, the thesis writer submits at least one substantial portion of the thesis draft by the end of fall quarter, and a full draft before spring break.

In addition to meeting weekly or bi-weekly with the advisor, the thesis writer must also participate in the honors colloquium. This is not a course, but a series of required meetings of all art history thesis writers convened by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The colloquium meets several times during the fall and winter quarters and may meet in the spring. The purpose of these meetings is to bring thesis writers together into a community so that writers may learn about the various forms a thesis can take and can engage in the important project of peer-review.

The finished thesis manuscript is handed in by the designated due date, which is normally in April. Four bound copies are submitted to the department office. Each must be bound, double-spaced, and paginated. Students are strongly encouraged to make an additional copy for their advisor.

Preceding the manuscript must be:

  • a title page with the author's name, the title of the thesis, the date, the advisor's name, and the phrase "A Senior Honors Thesis Submitted to the Department of Art History, Northwestern University, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Honors Degree in Art History"
  • a brief abstract (no more than one page)
  • a table of contents, as necessary
  • acknowledgments, as necessary
  • a list of illustrations, which includes artist name, title, and date

Following the manuscript must be:

  • full footnotes and bibliography, preferably following the format of The Chicago Manual of Style (footnotes may be in endnote or footnote form)
  • numbered illustrations (in black-and-white or color), captioned with full title, artist's name, date, dimensions (as available and relevant), location (as available and relevant), and medium (as available or relevant)
  • any necessary or relevant appendices

Senior honors theses are evaluated on the originality and scope of the research they present, as well as the clarity of the manner in which they are written, organized, and argued. All honors theses are evaluated as passing or not-passing by an ad-hoc department faculty committee. This committee forwards its recommendations to the Weinberg College Honors Committee, which makes the final decision regarding the award of honors. The Departmental Honors Committee also decides which theses might be awarded a Carson Webster Prize, the department award for best honors thesis. On occasion, this award is shared by more than one thesis.

Dual Honors and Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies

Students who are interested in pursuing Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies, or in two departments, should meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Christina Normore ( and consult the following links:

Procedures for Students Interested in Pursuing Honors in Two Departments or Programs

Application for Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Projects (DOC)

Please be advised that the deadline to apply to Weinberg College for permission for such honors is May 21, so plan to begin the process early in the spring quarter.