UC Berkeley History of Art Department

Honors and Awards

Departmental and University Honors


Honors in Art History: Students with a 3.7 GPA in the major may complete and submit an honors thesis by enrolling in HA195 (4 units, graded). A student whose thesis receives a grade of A- or better will receive Departmental Honors (Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors). The Honors Thesis is a two-semester project conducted under faculty supervision, as follows: a seminar, directed research, or independent study course in the first semester, followed by HA195 in the second. For specific details regarding the Honors Program, students should speak with a faculty undergraduate advisor and read the Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses below.

University Honors
are awarded upon the recommendation of the Department to students on the basis of overall GPA as follows: Honors, High Honors and Highest Honors. Requisite GPAs for University Honors change each year.

The Maybelle M. Toombs Awards recognize the potential and achievement of students based upon their record in the major up to the beginning of the senior year. By that time, the students must have completed at least two semesters of coursework as a History of Art major at Berkeley. Criteria include grade point average in the major; grasp of the research techniques and methods of the discipline; and a curriculum notable for its breadth and depth.

The Departmental Citation is presented at Commencement to a graduating senior of singular achievement. The Award Committee considers grades to be the principal criterion, but it also takes into account the character of the student’s overall program, its ambition and depth; the student’s ability to sustain a high level of excellence throughout his or her undergraduate work in Art History as well as in other subjects; and the ways in which this broad experience is brought to bear in an Honors Thesis of high quality, one that notably demonstrates the ability to do research in the discipline and a genuine independence of mind and maturity of judgment.

Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses

The Honors thesis in the History of Art is an advanced research and writing project that presents an original and thorough analysis of a discrete topic that may focus upon specific works of visual art and/or architecture, archaeological sites, contexts of production and reception, canons of criticism, or methods of interpretation. Requiring a depth of investigation, level of analysis, and quality of writing that exceeds a term paper, the thesis project may serve as an introduction to the caliber of work expected in graduate programs in art history and the humanities generally.

Students with at least a 3.7 grade point average in the major are eligible for admission into the Honors Program in History of Art. Admission is dependent upon the willingness of a member of the permanent, adjunct, or affiliated faculty to supervise the candidate throughout the program. Before granting permission, the faculty member may consider several facets of a student’s prior work in History of Art, including breadth of courses in relevant topics and level of academic achievement. S/he may ask the student to prepare a thesis prospectus that succinctly describes the thesis topic, identifies core works of visual art/architecture as well as primary texts, and prior scholarly literature relevant to the proposed direction of research. S/he may decline to supervise a student or may recommend a different prospective advisor more suited to the task.
Candidates for Honors are required to complete satisfactorily, generally within their senior year, a thesis developed over the course of two semesters of continuing academic work under faculty supervision. The two semesters are usually consecutive, as follows:
Semester 1: Seminar, Upper Division Lecture course, or Directed Research/Independent Study Course taught by a member of the permanent faculty.
Semester 2: HA H195 Special Study (Thesis Writing) advised by a member of the permanent faculty.

The two semesters are usually consecutive, although they may precede and follow the Summer Session.

Advance planning is essential. Students considering the Honors Program should consult with an Undergraduate Advisor as soon as possible and begin to plan for the program by the mid point of their junior year; transfer students should begin to plan by the mid point of their second semester at Berkeley. Students are encouraged to apply for undergraduate research opportunities, including the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (http://surf.berkeley.edu) and the Institute of International Studies’ Undergraduate Merit Scholarship (http://iis.berkeley.edu/funding-opportunities/undergraduate-merit-scholarship), for example.

Students who complete the program will graduate with Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors in the Major, depending upon the grade assigned to their thesis: A-, A, or A+. For more information, please review the Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses below.

Format and Content
The minimum text length (not including foot/endnotes, bibliography, and list of illustrations) is 25 pages double-spaced, 12-point type; the complete text (including foot/endnotes, bibliography, and list of illustrations) should not exceed 60 pages. You should illustrate your discussion with the work(s) of art, architecture, or material culture at the core of your thesis, providing captioned figures referenced in the body of the text, and organized and numbered according to the order of their appearance there.
The content of your thesis must be your own original scholarly work, adhering to the campus Honor Code and Student Code of Conduct. Any statements, opinions, or ideas quoted or paraphrased from the work of others (as opposed to well-known factual material) MUST be correctly acknowledged in complete foot- or endnotes, in accordance with College of Letters & Science regulations. Immediately after the title page, you must include a signed and dated Affirmation of Independent Work: “This thesis represents my own work in accordance with College of Letters & Science regulations.”
The various components of the thesis should, in general, appear in the following order:
            Title page
            Affirmation of Independent Work
            Table of contents
            Text chapters
            Appendices (if any)
            List of illustrations
Two guides to writing about art are strongly recommended: Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art (Longman; most recent edition), and Henry M. Sayer, Writing About Art (Prentice Hall).
For endnotes, please follow the rules appropriate to your field and subject as established by leading journals: e.g., American Journal of Archaeology (www.ajaonline.org); The Art Bulletin (www.collegeart.org); Archives of Asian Art; Chicago Manual of Style (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html); etc. Do not mix citation styles.
As a historian, your first duty is to develop a body of pertinent factual evidence (textual, visual, or material) and to evaluate it in relation to carefully proposed problem(s) or question(s). Your descriptions of works of art or architecture should be lucid and succinct, with pertinent examples introduced at the appropriate point(s) of the text. Remember that a thesis is exactly that: a thesis, i.e., a pondered statement of your own opinion or “take” on a particular topic or problem. Your thesis must be based on your thorough knowledge of the topic and its English-language literatures (or literatures in other languages for which you have reading skills) and present thoughts and ideas of your own developed clearly and in logical order. You need not attempt to “solve” a problem or “prove” a point of view definitively, but you should endeavor to articulate what is at stake, intellectually and rhetorically, in your analysis and to bring readers to a new, critical understanding of your topic and its related works.
Please pay close attention to English usage and style, research ethics and techniques, organization, citation conventions, and formatting. Seek assistance from writing resources on campus if necessary, and copyedit your work rigorously prior to submission. Do not expect your advisor to read multiple drafts or devote considerable time to copyediting. Advisors are generally willing to read a maximum of two drafts.
Use quotations sparingly, and work them as much as possible into the flow of your own narrative. If a long quotation is necessary, separate it from the body of the text, indent it, and single-space it without quotation marks (known as a block quote). If you need to insert a clarifying word or phrase of your own into a quotation (for clarity or in the case of elision), use square brackets [ ] to signify the insertion. If you wish to give emphasis to a part of a quotation, italicize the word or text and, at the end of the quotation, add in square brackets the words [italics supplied]. In general, primary texts (historical documents, religious scripture, artists’ writings, and the like) that you use as evidence in the thesis should be quoted verbatim, not paraphrased, and translated as well.
Clear and accurate foot- or endnotes are an essential part of your thesis’s argumentation; they open your research to verification. They should take readers directly to your sources (primary or secondary) and provide precise credit for the statements, phrasing, and intellectual property of others. Cite primary texts in accordance with the citation practices current in your particular field, and cite them before you cite secondary sources on the subject. If you are quoting a translation of a primary textual source (e.g., Pausanias; Vasari; the Qianlong emperor; Sahagún), you must acknowledge the translator (if identified); if it is your translation, indicate as “translation by the author.”
Unless you are directly discussing web art or art criticism on the web, you should not use websites as sources for historical information or scholarly opinions unless they are “authoritative,” i.e., sites developed by museums, research institutes, scholars, or foundations, and employ the same practices of source citation and foot- or endnotes that you yourself are obliged to use in your own thesis. When citing web sources, include in your citation the date you accessed the site. In some cases you may wish to organize your bibliography into separate sections for primary and secondary sources. Consult your thesis advisor on the strength of your sources and the most appropriate format and practice for notes and bibliography in your particular case. 
All honors candidates must adhere strictly to the following deadlines for preparation and completion of the thesis. Failure to adhere to these deadlines may result in rejection of the thesis.
1. Outline and Bibliography: Due to your advisor by the end of week 5 of the semester in which the thesis is written. You may also submit an initial draft to your primary advisor at this stage.
2. Full Draft: Due the Monday after Spring Break or the end of the 11th week in the fall semester.
3. Completed Thesis: Due on the last day of formal classes in the semester during which H195 is taken. 
A thesis writer who misses the deadline to submit the completed thesis as stated above will be ineligible to receive honors in History of Art. The faculty supervisor may choose to allow the submission of written work after that deadline, as if it were an independent study. If the honors deadline is not met, the faculty supervisor alone will determine the letter grade for HA195.
Each thesis is read both by the primary advisor and a second permanent, adjunct, affiliated, or visiting faculty member, lecturer, or postdoctoral fellow in the Department appointed by the Chair of History of Art. Both readers prepare brief reports on the thesis, which are made available to the student, and grade it. In the event that the readers recommend divergent grades and cannot reconcile them, the Chair may appoint a third reader to resolve the issue. The primary advisor submits the grade for the thesis as the grade for HA195. A student whose thesis receives a grade of A- or better will receive Departmental Honors as follows: A-, Honors; A, High Honors; A+, Highest Honors.