M.A. Thesis Guidelines (Fall 10)
1. Choice of Subject
An M.A. thesis must be an original contribution to an existing body of knowledge, in this case art history and/or museum studies. The topic may emerge from work previously done in a class or work begun during an internship in a cultural institution. Typically an ability to read pertinent literature in the original language(s) is required. For example, if your topic involves French painting, you must be able to read French. In every case, wherever possible, primary sources must be consulted.
The subject should be one that can be treated extensively in 50-60 pages of text, exclusive of footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, appendices, and illustrations. Illustrations are essential.
All subjects must be discussed initially with the full time professor whose area of expertise is most pertinent to the subject AND the M.A. advisor. Occasionally, a thesis may take an alternative form, such as the development of an exhibition or an extensive museum education program. Once a topic has been approved verbally, a written proposal must be submitted to your first and second readers and the director of the program.
2. The M.A. Proposal
You will not be able to register for Thesis Research (B9000) until your M.A. proposal has been approved and you present a copy signed by your advisor, second reader and the director of the program.
The M.A. proposal should not exceed six pages and must consist of the following:
- a brief narrative of the intended subject
- a general review of the existing literature
- a statement of your contribution
- a brief chapter outline in narrative form
- a preliminary working bibliography, annotated wherever possible
If you change your topic or amend it substantially you must submit a new proposal.
The M.A. thesis requires at least two readers. The first reader must be a full time member of the art department faculty, the professor whose expertise is closest to the topic of your thesis. If there is no full time person with the requisite expertise, the second reader may fulfill that function and may be an adjunct at CCNY or someone from another institution. Whenever possible, the second reader should hold a terminal degree.
The second reader should also be familiar with the topic but may be someone with a more general knowledge of it. Usually, the thesis is approved by the first reader before the second reader gets it. However, if both parties agree, they may read it simultaneously. This may save time in the end. Both readers as well as the director of the M.A. program (who may also be a reader) must approve the thesis.
4. Development of the Thesis
Working with your first reader, establish a methodology that works for you. Arrange periodic meetings to review your progress, at least once a month. Some students find it useful to set up study groups to help keep them on schedule and to share ideas.
It is customary to require several drafts before the thesis is approved. All your drafts must be proofread and edited and in proper footnote order. Thesis advisors do not serve as editors. Your advisor will not read any drafts that do not comply with these requirements. If you have questions about your topic-- structure, thesis, etc. - you should discuss them with your advisor before submitting drafts. Be sure to consult copies of existing theses available in the library for both form and content.
You must allow sufficient time for your first and second readers to approve your thesis, as well as the MA advisor if he/she is not one of the readers. Keep all readers apprised of your progress and when they may expect to receive material from you. Be sure to allow at least 2-3 weeks for each to read your work and allow time for revisions. Keep in mind that there are times, particularly around the ends of semesters, when your readers will require more time. Make sure you know the date the completed thesis with the signed cover sheet is due in the dean of humanities’ office and work back from that, allowing for holidays, etc.
You MUST be registered the semester you graduate and you MUST file an `intend to graduate’ form at the start of that semester.
Although Art B9000 is the designated thesis research course, many students require additional time. You must be registered the semester you intend to graduate. If you have taken all your requirements including B9000, you may register to maintain matriculation any time during the semester. Instruction on thesis binding and the thesis cover sheets are available in the dean’s office. The `intend to graduate’ form is available on line.
updated Nov 2010