Madonna and Child by Simone Martini

You are here

Art History MA Committee/Process Guidelines


Before MA students may begin taking thesis or practicum credits, they must have completed all the required course work for the MA degree and satisfied any foreign language requirement. To verify readiness for the thesis or practicum, they must fill out an MA progress form. This should be done in the quarter before beginning thesis/practicum credits.

Also before MA students may register for thesis/practicum credits, they must have their thesis/practicum proposal approved by their committee members (see below). Students should complete an ART H 700/598 approval form, attach their proposal, obtain committee signatures (email and fax allowed), then submit this package to the academic adviser for graduate students in Room 104, who will provide faculty codes for registration.

Establishing the Committee

Graduate students, in consultation with their faculty adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies (Graduate Program Coordinator) when appropriate, are responsible for choosing the members of their thesis/practicum committee. The faculty adviser usually will become the committee chair. Students are responsible for determining the potential committee members' willingness to serve. Committees typically consist of three or four members, two of which must be regular members of the Art History faculty (one of these two members will serve as the chair). Other members can include adjunct and emeritus faculty and/or members of other departments whose work is relevant to the thesis/practicum topic.


Students should discuss potential thesis/practicum topics with their committee chair. When a topic is finalized, students should work out a timeline for completing the proposal. Thesis proposals are usually completed prior to the quarter before students plan to enroll for thesis credits.

Proposal Format

Thesis/practicum proposals vary in form and/or content depending on the nature of the project and the expectations of the chair and committee members. There is no set format or length for thesis/practicum proposals. Thesis proposals developed from seminar papers will typically be more detailed and specific than proposals based on future research. Students should ask their faculty adviser and/or chair for copies of recently approved proposals. All proposals will include:

  1. Statement of thesis topic and objectives
  2. Review of relevant scholarship
  3. Original contribution to the topic
  4. Chapter overview and outline (this requirement may be modified if the proposal is based on future research)
  5. Timeline for completion
  6. Bibliography

Thesis Credits

When the committee members have approved the proposal, the student must circulate the MA Proposal Approval Form among members of the committee for signatures. The student should then attach a copy of the proposal to the form and bring it to the Graduate Program Assistant in the Advising Office for placement in the student’s file. When the Proposal Approval form has been completed, together with the approved MA Progress form, the student can file for thesis credits.

Final Draft

It is difficult to complete a thesis project in less than two quarters. Students should plan accordingly and expect to produce revised drafts of their proposals. Once a student’s chair has approved a draft, it can be submitted to committee members for their review and suggestions. Allow sufficient time for committee review (at least 30 days, preferably not at the very end of the quarter).

Scheduling the Defense

For both thesis and practicum students, after a full draft has been approved by all committee members, the chair will approve the scheduling of the defense, which should be handled by the student as assisted by the Graduate Program Assistant. The defense date should allow sufficient time for revisions required by the committee. The student and at least one Art History faculty member of his or her committee (or a substitute from the Art History faculty, if necessary) should be physically present at the oral defense when any members participate through audio or electronic conferencing.

Enrollment During Thesis/Practicum

At least 10 credits of thesis (ART H 700) or practicum (ART H 598) must be taken; more are allowed. These 10 credits may, but need not be, taken all in a single quarter. The student must be registered for at least 2 credits during the quarter that s/he completes and defends the thesis or practicum.

Application for Degree (Graduation)

Students must apply online via MyGrad for a Master’s Degree. This should take place at the same time the defense is scheduled. Check the website for deadlines. Students should also print a copy of the Master’s Committee approval form at that time and bring the form to the defense for signature.


When the committee meets with graduate student for the defense to discuss and approve the thesis or practicum, committee members sign the warrant and the Master’s Committee approval form (see above). The warrant may be picked up from the Graduate Program Assistant (Room 104, Advising Office) prior to the defense. Both of these forms will need to be returned to the GPA with original signatures of all committee members (no faxes, scans, emails, stamps). Also, consult the Graduate School for format of title page and other formatting requirements. It is the responsibility of the student to check with the Graduate School, the UW Library copyright office, Proquest, and any other guidelines on fair use practices, permissions, and inclusion of images.

Return to: