Honors in the Arts

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


The Honors in the Arts program allows students from any major to combine their critical and creative interests by completing an interdisciplinary capstone program in the arts during their senior year.

Applications for individual projects and group projects (two or more students) will be evaluated, and projects with real world impact are encouraged. All accepted projects are eligible for modest financial support.

We are particularly interested in experimental work that engages new forms of expression for a 21st century audience. Additionally, we are committed to building a cohort that reflects a diversity of identities, experiences, educational backgrounds, and artistic and scholarly interests. Such diversity only enhances our interdisciplinary and collaborative endeavors.

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

  • Team-based projects (two or more students) with the potential for real world impact will be given preference in the admissions process.
  • Creative writers with an interest in graphic novels or short stories, zines, or digital platforms are encouraged to seek like-minded collaborators and apply as a team.
  • Students interested in film and video, music, or theatre and performance are also encouraged to apply as a team. As long as two or more collaborators are seniors (for example, a playwright and a director applying as a team) the rest of the collaborators need not be seniors in the program (such as actors, stage managers, etc.).

The 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).

Program Components

All students admitted into the program will complete the following:

  • Workshop classes (ARTSINST 200A, 200B, and 200C) during their senior year. The workshop classes will be led by an instructor.
  • 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 who receive 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 a graduate student mentor to develop and shape their capstone project. Students will be paired with an advanced MFA or PhD student with a strong background in interdisciplinary arts. Students in the program are responsible for setting up regular meetings with their mentor throughout the academic year. The workshop classes will also allow for weekly check ins with a faculty member.
  • Symposium: Students will present their work at a public symposium in Spring quarter.
  • Field research: Students are encouraged to see exhibitions, shows, and lectures on campus and in the Bay Area.
  • 5 page written reflections at the end of both Fall and Winter quarters
  • 8 page assessment of the final project and how it intervenes in a given set of discourses at the end of Spring quarter

Preparation for the Honors in the Arts

Students wishing to complete Honors in the Arts will be required to take at least three courses identified as preparing them to successfully execute an interdisciplinary capstone project. Students should select courses that will provide a solid foundation in the artistic discipline(s) relevant to the proposed project. They 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 capstone project.

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

Applications were due by 11:59PM Wednesday, April 15th, 2020.

Admission to the program is competitive. A selection committee determines admission on the basis of the requirements listed below:


  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.4
  • 500 to 750-word Capstone Project Proposal
  • Three arts practice/research courses relevant to the Capstone project, taken prior to entering the program
  • Portfolio of relevant work
  • One Faculty Reference Form

How to Apply

Admission to the program is competitive.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Stanford senior during the 2020-2021 academic year
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.4
  • 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 the interdisciplinary capstone project or research; b) a description of your background in the disciplines that will be drawn upon for the project; c) why the project cannot be completed in your major department; and d) the relevance of the Honors in the Arts to your education both at Stanford and beyond
  • Unofficial transcript
  • A completed Faculty Reference Form (provided in the application)
  • Portfolio of relevant work. The details for the portfolio vary depending on a student's main medium of expression. If the following limits present a significant obstacle, please contact Devin Garnick (dgarnick@stanford.edu):
    • Creative writers should submit work that best exemplifies their strengths as a writer. Most writers submit about 12 pages of prose, 5-7 poems, or a short scene from a play, depending on the proposed project.
    • Artists working in visual, audio, or other forms of visual or digital media should submit work that most exemplifies their strengths in the relevant form. The committee will accept the following: up to 5 images (compiled in a single PDF file), 5 minutes of video or audio, PDFs, and linked external media (such as YouTube, Vimeo, and SoundCloud).
    • Performing artists should submit any relevant media that showcases their strengths as a performer. This is typically a short reel, production photos, or an excerpt from a recent performance. If such material is not available, the committee will accept an artist statement (not to exceed 3 pages).

Honors in the Arts Alumni

For information about students who have participated in the Honors in the Arts program, please visit the annual program pages below.



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

"Here's a program where you'll be with other artists and professional artists, and you'll be meeting once a week and you'll have funding and you'll have events - that's huge... I've loved the feedback I've gotten, it's been really helpful. Everyone's really perceptive, and kind, and caring."

Adam Schorin, American Studies major with a minor in Creative Writing (2016-17 Cohort)

"Because I come in so hypercritical of my work, I'm very hesitant to share it. But then I come out of it feeling a little bit better, which is what I think I need... Being in a supportive group where we're all in it together and everyone has these same self-doubts about their creative process and their work is really reassuring to me."

-Sri Muppidi, Economics major and minor in Creative Writing (2016-17 Cohort)


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 an instructor, will be offered for two units of credit, and will be taken for a letter grade. Students will be paired with an advanced graduate student mentor for their project and, where further expertise is necessary, will also be directed to faculty members who can provide supplemental guidance. Capstone projects will be graded by the workshop leader, and will be informed by input from the graduate student mentor. Students must receive at least an A- on the capstone project in order to receive honors.

What is a capstone project?

Capstone projects are typically creative projects involving an arts practice element. Capstone projects may also be scholarly research projects involving a multidisciplinary approach. 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, with team projects receiving priority during the admissions process.

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 project 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 capstone 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, but team-based projects that have the potential for real world impact will be given priority in the admissions process.

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

Yes, team-based projects with the potential for real world impact are encouraged. 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 Devin Garnick (dgarnick@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 participate in the Honors in the Arts program 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, 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 3.4, you will also need to submit a GPA petition.

My GPA is below 3.4. Am I ineligible to apply?

A minimum overall GPA of 3.4 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 capstone project along with a different capstone or Honors program?

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

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.