Graduation with Distinction
Levels of distinction
There are three levels: Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction. You will be evaluated for the originality and quality of your work, and for the execution of all the stated requirements of your project. The student’s advisory committee will award distinction and High Distinction. Only the entire Art, Art History & Visual Studies faculty, will award highest Distinction for Art History, Visual Arts and Visual and Media Studies.
During the last semester of your junior year at Duke, you may apply for graduation with departmental distinction if you have a minimum 3.5 departmental GPA and 3.3 overall GPA. To be eligible, you must apply in writing to the program early in the spring semester of your junior year. Applications will be considered up to, though no later than the end of drop/add in the fall semester of your senior year (date varies, applications received after this time will not be considered). Include in your letter the following: 1) a working title and brief description of your thesis project, 2) the name of your principal advisor, 3) an application form to the director of undergraduate studies, and 4) in consultation with the advisor, the names of a distinction committee of two additional faculty members.
Program II Majors should adhere to the Program II Graduation with Distinction application policies. In addition please inform the department of your intention to pursue Graduation with Distinction by forwarding a copy of your completed Program II application to the Art, Art History & Visual Studies DUS and DUSA.
Download Application (PDF)
Application Due 09/09/16 for Spring 2017 Graduation
Requirements for Art History
- Fall of Senior Year: Enrollment in an Independent Study with your advisor OR enrollment in a 400-699-level seminar related to the distinction topic and approved by your advisor
- Spring of Senior Year: Enrollment in an Independent Study with your advisor AND enrollment in ARTHIST 495S Honors Thesis Workshop if offered (each meeting every-other week)
This coursework will result in a paper written in your final two semesters on a subject you will choose in consultation with your advisor. You are expected to do research using primary sources, including those in foreign languages when necessary. The research paper should be 10,000-15,000 words (30-50 pages) with footnotes and bibliography. Three members of the faculty will read the paper: your principal advisor and two readers. It must receive a minimum grade of A- for the student to qualify for graduation with distinction.
Requirements for Visual Arts
In order to qualify for the distinction project in Visual Art you must have taken at least half of the courses towards the art major at Duke by the end of the junior year and have taken at least one upper-level course in the area of focus with your advisor for your project. You must have a well-defined project focused in any medium from drawing, painting, sculpture, and computer graphics to installation, performance, video, film, and photography. Your project will develop a coherent central theme through a number of examples related in technique, format, and subject matter. A written component will accompany the project to analyze and elucidate its conceptual, thematic, and technical aspects.
- Fall of Senior Year: Enrollment in ARTSVIS 497S Advanced Visual Practice
- Spring of Senior Year: Enrollment in ARTSVIS 499S Senior Capstone in the Visual Arts
Your project is critiqued and evaluated monthly by all Visual Arts faculty. The results of the project are exhibited on campus prior to your graduation.
Requirements for Visual and Media Studies
- One Course in Fall of Senior Year: Enrollment in an Independent Study with your advisor OR enrollment in a 400-699-level seminar related to the distinction topic and approved by your advisor OR enrollment in VMS 497S Advanced Visual Practice (for VMS students completing a project with a strong visual component)
- One Course in Spring of Senior Year: Enrollment in VMS 495S Honors Thesis Workshop is strongly advised if offered OR enrollment in VMS 499S Senior Capstone in VMS
This coursework will result in a research paper and/or visual project completed in your final two semesters on a subject you will choose in consultation with your advisor. The research paper should be 10,000-15,000 words (30-50 pages) with footnotes and bibliography. Three members of the faculty will read the paper: your principal advisor and two readers. The visual project should have a written component to it as well (length to be decided in consultation with GWD advisor), read by three members of the faculty. The research paper and/or visual project must receive a minimum grade of A- to qualify for graduation with distinction.
Suggested Timeline and Deadlines for Graduation with Distinction
Spring, Junior Year
If you are interested in pursuing Graduation with Distinction, you should find an advisor, devise a topic, and submit an application in the spring semester of your junior year. The earlier you do this the better, as you will be able to apply for funding from the Benenson Awards in the Arts and the Dean’s Summer Research Fellowship. Additionally, if you enroll in an Independent Study for your senior year, you can apply for Undergraduate Research Support Independent Study grants. Work on your thesis or project should begin no later than the summer between your junior and senior years. A GWD open house and information session will be hosted every spring semester for students who are interested in pursuing distinction.
Fall, Senior Year
In the fall of the senior year, you will begin to work seriously on your thesis. Prospective Graduation with Distinction students should be enrolled in a course based on the major requirements outlined above. By the end of the semester, you should have completed a working draft of your thesis.
Spring, Senior Year
During this semester you are working to refine and complete your thesis. In the spring you will have an opportunity to present your research or project publicly at the Graduation with Distinction Symposium. Please let the DUS know if you will be participating in this event. Visual Arts students and Visual and Media Studies students completing visual projects will participate in an end-of-year exhibition opening in the last week of classes.
- The deadline for submitting your thesis to your advisor is in early April.
- The deadline for reviewing all project-based work is mid-April.
- The deadline for a final decision on whether you have earned graduation with distinction is the day before classes end.
Submitting Your Thesis
Complete the Thesis Title Page, with signatures from your primary and secondary advisors. Submit one printed thesis with completed title page and one PDF version to the departmental DUSA in the Art, Art History & Visual Studies office (Bay 9, Room A289). Additional printed copies of your thesis should be given to your primary thesis advisor or secondary advisors as requested. You may also use the Graduation with Distinction Thesis in your senior portfolio submitted to the department before Graduation in your senior year.