Honors in the Arts

Stanford Arts Institute administers an interdisciplinary honors program in the arts. This program is open to Stanford students in any major.


This interdisciplinary honors program allows students from any major to complete a senior capstone project in the arts and receive University Honors with their undergraduate degree. New in 2017, students can apply with an individual or team based project. All accepted projects are eligible for modest financial support.

Through a yearlong process, students develop a capstone project that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of their major.

  • For individual students majoring in arts disciplines, this will involve incorporating multiple arts disciplines into their work.
  • For individual students majoring in a non-arts discipline, capstone projects should incorporate themes, discourse, or learnings from a student's major along with arts practice or research.
  • NEW OPPORTUNITY: For team-based projects (2-5 students per team), students will explore art’s role in social justice, climate change, and new creative economies. Sample prompts are provided below but students are also encouraged to propose their own topics.

Honors in the Arts can be completed in addition to honors work in a student's home department or alongside another capstone program (such as The Senior Reflection in Biology).


Applications for the 2017-2018 cohort are now closed.

Please contact Rebecca Struch with any questions.


Applications were due by 11:59 PM on Friday, April 7.

Program Components

To receive Honors in the Arts, students admitted into the program will complete the following:

  • Workshop classes (ARTSINST 200A, 200B, and 200C) during their senior year.
  • Capstone projects which are typically creative projects involving an arts practice element. Capstone projects may also be scholarly research projects involving a multidisciplinary approach. Students must receive at least an A- on the capstone project in order to receive honors. Students receiving a grade of less than an A- but greater than NP will receive credit for the workshops but will not receive honors.
  • Mentors: Each student will work closely with two mentors, one Academic (from their home department) and one Creative, to develop and shape their capstone projects. Students are responsible for selecting their own mentors and setting up regular meetings throughout the academic year. Mentors do not need to be finalized/confirmed at the time of application. Learn more about developing a successful mentor relationship.

Preparation for Honors in the Arts

Students wishing to receive Honors in the Arts will be required to take at least three courses identified as preparing them to successfully execute an interdisciplinary capstone project. You should select courses that will provide you with a solid foundation in the artistic discipline(s) relevant to your proposed project. You should plan to complete at least two of these courses prior to entering the program. However, upon approval of the Program Director, students may take these courses while pursuing their Honors project.

The Creativity Course Guide includes courses that provide an introduction to the study of the arts disciplines as well as incorporating the arts in an interdisciplinary context

How to Apply

Admission to the program is competitive.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Stanford senior during the 2017-18 academic year
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.25 will normally be required. However, applicants can submit a GPA petition
  • Completion of at least three creative/artistic courses that prepare the student to successfully execute an interdisciplinary capstone project

Application materials include:

  • Project proposal which addresses the following: a) the concept for your interdisciplinary capstone project or research; b) a description of your background in the disciplines that will be drawn upon for the project; c) how the Honors in the Arts workshops will help in the development of the project; and d) the relevance of Honors in the Arts to your education both at Stanford and beyond
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Name and contact information for a faculty member who can provide a reference upon request
  • If your proposal will be enhanced by visual, audio, or other media, the committee will accept these file formats: up to 8 images (compiled in a single PDF file), 5 minutes of video or audio, PDFs, and linked external media (such as YouTube, Vimeo, and SoundCloud). If these limits present a significant obstacle, please contact Rebecca Struch (rstruch@stanford.edu).

Honors in the Arts Alumni

Student Quotes

"My favorite part of Honors in the Arts is meeting everyone. The people in the cohort are so different and they have such interesting views on their take of art. Seeing them in their projects and how they want to go about making them is something that's helped me figure out how to do mine. My project is a series of murals that have to do with indigenous peoples and issues within their communities, but specifically Native American. It started off as a project that I would have within the Native Community Center here. As I started off the process I realized it should be a series of paintings, but they're still murals because of the scale. And now I'm projecting them within different areas of Stanford so that it can be more public."

-Lena, Art Practice Major (2015-16 Cohort)


"I learned about the Honors in the Arts program through a student mentor of mine a couple of years back, so I looked into it because I was really interested in doing a capstone project. I feel like it's such an important way to reflect on what I've learned in the past 4 years at Stanford, but I wanted to do it in a way that was meaningful to me. And I just didn't see that happening through a typical thesis. So when I looked into Honors in the Arts I realized that this was exactly how I wanted to end my senior year. I wanted to create something that I could reflect on after my undergraduate career is over and think, this is what made my time meaningful."

Justine, CSRE Major and Creative Writing Minor (2015-16 Cohort)

"I never really considered myself a writer or poet in high school, but when I came to Admit Weekend at Stanford I went to the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking's open house and saw the Stanford Spoken Word Collective perform. That inspired me to audition freshman year, and I've been performing with the Spoken Word Collective ever since. For my Honors in the Arts project I'm writing spoken word poetry about the child birth experiences of marginalized families. Getting to reach out and meet these moms and learn about their kids and sort of see the ways in which bringing this child into the world has affected their relationship has been really interesting, and lets me reflect on my own relationship with my mom and my family. So there's this research component of doing all these interviews, but it's also very personal for me."

-Greeshma, Human Biology Major (2015-16 Cohort)

"The first year Honors in the Arts started I was living in Kimball, which is the art themed dorm, so there were a lot of flyers everywhere and that's how I learned about the program. I was interested in doing a creative project for my honors thesis mostly because my emphasis in English is Creative Writing. So the summer after my sophomore year I ended up having a Chappell Lougee grant and I did some writing in Singapore. I was trying to compare Asian American experiences to Singaporean ones, specifically mixed race populations in Hawaii, where I'm from, and Singapore. That was a really cool experience directly focusing on writing and doing research that I thought was meaningful. When it came time to apply for Honors in the Arts I had a good idea of what it entailed, and it seemed like there was room for me to talk about an Asian American issue that was related to me in a way that was meaningful. It was nice to have a space for something that was not only creative but also in line with my academic and personal interests."

-Mark, English and Human Biology Major (2015-16 Cohort)

"There aren't many honors programs on campus that let you specifically write creatively. Honors in the Arts let me combine my two interests by letting me study facets of the communication world while still working on my art. It's been an amazing experience to combine those two interests that pretty much defined my college career separately. For my project I'm writing a play that I started while I was abroad in Oxford, and it's set in a hippie commune. It's really exploring what happens when we outgrow identities and how we deal with that. It's looking at queerness and looking at modes of leadership, among other things."

-Julia, Communication major and Theater and Performance Studies minor

"I'm writing a book of prose poems and very short stories that all revolve around the theme of play and games. I study philosophy, and I think the world is pretty strange, and we divide up the world into these concepts pretty arbitrarily. For instance: life. What is life? Which things count as living? I think it's all very strange and arbitrary. So I think poetry is a way to play with those concepts and expand them and sort of dance around them."

-Eric, Philosophy and Religious Studies major


What is the format of the program?

Admitted students will participate in small, yearlong workshops during senior year to develop their capstone project. Workshops will be led by faculty and academic staff, and will be offered for two units of credit and will be taken for a letter grade. Students will be paired with a primary faculty advisor for their project and, where further expertise is necessary, will also be assigned a mentor or mentors who can advise and guide on other aspects as appropriate. Capstone projects will be graded by the project advisor, with input from a secondary reader. Students must receive at least an A- on the capstone project in order to receive honors.

What is a capstone project?

Capstone projects can be either scholarly/research projects involving a historical/theoretical approach or creative projects involving an arts practice element. In the latter case, students will be required to produce, in addition to the creative project, a brief explanatory statement outlining the intellectual and artistic goals of the project and reflecting on its impact. The capstone project should be informed by a student’s major and scholarly experience. The capstone project can be completed individually or as part of a team. This should be determined at the time of the application.

I am a Computer Science/Biology/Engineering/Economics/Other major. I would like to compose music/write a play/make a piece of visual art. Does my capstone project have to be about Computer Science/Biology/Engineering/Economics/Other?

Your research or creative capstone does not have to be about your major, but it should connect to your major through themes, methodology, discourse, or subject matter. As with any Honors project, the Honors in the Arts capstone should build on your previous studies, integrating them with art practice.

Who is eligible to apply?

Students in any major will be able to apply during the winter of their junior year. Students can apply individually or as part of a team-based project.

I'm interested in pursuing an Honors in the Arts capstone as part of a team project. Is this possible?

Yes. If you are applying as a team you will be asked for additional information in your application regarding the roles and responsibilities each team member will take on during the project lifecycle. Each team member will need to submit their individual transcript, preparation courses, and academic reference. However, team members can submit the same project abstract, project proposal, and mentor possibilities. Please contact Rebecca Struch (rstruch@stanford.edu) if you have questions regarding team-based projects.

I’m interested in this program, but I’m not a junior yet. What should I do to prepare?

Students wishing to receive Honors in the Arts will be required to take at least three courses identified as preparing them to successfully execute an interdisciplinary capstone project. You should plan to complete at least two of these courses prior to entering the program. However, upon approval of the program director, students may take these courses while pursuing their honors project. Courses will normally be at least two units and will have been taken for a letter grade.

What do I need to apply?

To apply you will need to submit a project proposal of 500-750 words, a portfolio of relevant work, and an unofficial transcript.  Be prepared to list your three introductory/preparatory courses, to provide a brief abstract of your project, and to provide the name of an academic reference. If your GPA is below 3.25, you will also need to submit a GPA petition.

My GPA is below 3.25. Am I ineligible to apply?

A minimum overall GPA of 3.25 will normally be required for admission into the program. However, we understand that while GPA is one indicator of assessing overall merit, innovative thinking does not necessarily get reflected in GPA. We want applicants who are interested in excellent, searching work. Applicants will be able to provide additional information demonstrating how their qualifications can be judged outside of their GPA.

Can I do this Honors and another Honors program?

Yes. However, you should plan to complete two separate projects.

Can I have my project count towards both Honors programs?

If you are interested in submitting one substantial thesis to fulfill honors requirements in more than one program, you must submit a request to the Exceptions Committee of the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP). This committee clarifies policy and determines whether or not it would be permissible for a student to submit one thesis for this purpose.

Can I do the honors program and go abroad?

Unfortunately, no. One of the core requirements of the Honors program is participation in the yearlong workshops.