Individual Study: Art History

An Individual Study (ARTH 491 or 492) allows a declared major in the art history discipline to pursue faculty-guided independent research. Applicants must be declared majors in art history. See course descriptions for prerequisites. Students must attain faculty sponsorship and then submit an application proposal the semester before they plan to pursue an individual study.

An individual study must come from work initiated or completed for an upper-level course in art history or a related discipline. An art history individual study also requires a public presentation by the student to the Department at the end of the semester.

Students working on topics outside the areas of expertise of their faculty sponsor should meet with relevant faculty when the project is being conceptually developed and bibliography gathered.

Procedure For Application

Application requires an Individual Study cover sheet, proposal, the 300-level paper/annotated bibliography that initiated this project, project calendar, and 100- or 200-level writing sample. A hard copy of the complete application is due to each Art History faculty member by the deadline.

Application checklist:

  • Cover sheet
  • Proposal
  • The 300-level art history paper or annotated bibliography from which the individual study project develops
  • Project calendar with specific assignments and due dates noted
  • 100- or 200-level writing sample (Please read “Outcomes Assessment in Art History” for further information on this.)


The proposal must be typed using Times Roman 12 pt. font, double-spaced, on white paper, and a minimum of two pages. Reviewers will focus on clear prose and statement of intention, accuracy of information, and good writing skills. Clearly state in your proposal your thesis and what you plan to do, an overview of scholarship, and a brief description of the project from which this research develops (include course number and name). Your thesis should contain a statement regarding your contribution to the scholarship. Also include in your proposal the project(s) you plan to complete (for example, a substantive paper), and the resources required to complete the project(s).

Attach the art history paper or annotated bibliography from which your project develops. If you are applying for Honors in Art History, read the section on Honors in Art History on the Department’s website.

The application process includes an interview with art history faculty after submission of your application to your faculty sponsor and before final approval by art history faculty.

Review and Notification

The art history faculty will review all applications. Applicant must demonstrate above-average competency in their major and a specific area of concentration. Applicants will be notified, through email at their UMW address, of the art history faculty’s decision.


Registration requires an “Individual Study Enrollment” form signed by the faculty sponsor and the Department Chair.