The MA thesis represents the final step in the fulfillment of your degree at Hunter.  It should embody originality of thinking underscored by solid research based on primary and secondary sources. Primary research often involves examining archival material such as an artist’s personal papers and correspondence, reading contemporary sources, and conducting site visits as well as interviews. Secondary research often involves analyzing diverse material and theoretical texts in addition to reviewing current and historical literature. The thesis should demonstrate your ability to gather, evaluate, and present material in a critical and professional manner. It is intended to prepare you for further study on the doctoral level or as an end in itself to equip you with the skills necessary for a professional career in Art History.  Completed theses are approximately 50-75 pages in length and exhibit a full scholarly textual apparatus: footnotes, bibliography, illustrations, and other relevant documentation.

How to choose a “Thesis Research” topic:

It is never too early to begin thinking of a subject for your research. The selection process can begin with a topic derived from a required course, such as Research Methods, an expansion of a previously submitted paper, or it may develop from an upper-level seminar or a course of independent study. It must be of sufficient originality to be worthy of further study and not simply a recapitulation of existing scholarly work.  The thesis should not be viewed as a longer, more extensive term paper but rather an opportunity to explore new ideas. It can be monographic, stylistic, iconographic or theoretical in its approach. Make sure that you are enthusiastic about the topic from the very beginning as it takes a great deal of mental and physical energy to produce a well-organized and well-written study with the proper documentation and illustrations. You should allow one year to research and write the thesis, although it is possible to complete their work in one semester.

How to find an advisor:

The choice of faculty advisor is an important one. You should talk with a full-time faculty member before beginning your preliminary investigation. The faculty member should be someone who is a specialist in your chosen area and, ideally, someone with whom you have established a scholarly relationship during your course of study at Hunter.  The faculty member can be of some assistance in refining an appropriate topic, but the student should already have several ideas in mind before opening the discussion. In fact, you will need two advisors, a first reader and a second reader. The first reader acts as a primary supervisor and provides direction and criticism of your research. Without the first reader’s approval your degree cannot be awarded. The first reader is not an editor; if necessary, you are advised to seek guidance from the Writing Center or to employ a professional editor to improve your writing skills. The second reader is not a mentor but an external assessor of your final work. They should be chosen in consultation with your first reader and approached in a timely manner.  Once the thesis has been finalized, it will be turned over to the second reader. The second reader can make helpful suggestions and corrections to produce a better thesis.  Your thesis cannot be submitted without the signature of your second reader.

How to apply for funding for travel and thesis research:

The dean of arts and science offers travel grants and grants to support thesis research up to $500 each.  To apply, please visit the following website: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/artsci/graduate-education/funding-opportunities-for-graduate-students. For further information please email Associate Dean Angela Haddad at angela.haddad@hunter.cuny.edu or call her office at (212) 772-5121.

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