Degree Requirements & Planners

Planners for the Major (2018 Distribution Requirements)
Planners for the Major (2019 Distribution Requirements)

Requirements for the Major

For students doing a studio thesis

  1. Four units of art history, including Art 201 and at least one course in non-Western art;
  2. Seven units of studio art, including two 100-level art courses in different disciplines;
  3. Humanities 220, or two units from Humanities 211, 212, 231, and 232;
  4. Language requirement;
  5. Junior qualifying examination; and
  6. Art 470.

At least one semester of a 300-level studio course should be completed before the thesis year.

For students doing an art history thesis

  1. Six and one-half units of art history, including Art 201, Art 301 (or approved equivalent), at least one course in non-Western art, and one course at the 400 level;
  2. Four units of studio art, including two 100-level art courses in different disciplines;
  3. Humanities 220, or two units from Humanities 211, 212, 231, and 232;
  4. Language requirement;
  5. Junior qualifying examination; and
  6. Art 470.

Language Requirement

Satisfactory completion of four units of a college-level language course that is not English. Waiver of this requirement will be granted in cases where the student has demonstrated proficiency. Students may petition the art department to count study abroad experiences in a non-English-speaking country toward the language requirement.

No art major, except one who transfers with junior standing, may normally use more than one unit of studio art and one unit of art history from outside Reed to fulfill departmental requirements.

Interdisciplinary majors are normally allowed to waive two units from the departmental requirement, one each from art history and studio art.

Applicants planning to major in art are not normally considered before successful completion, or reasonable certainty thereof, of two 100-level art courses in different disciplines and Art 201. Transfers from other colleges, for whom in some cases one of these introductory courses may be waived, are expected to take a comparable amount of coursework at Reed (one unit of art history and one unit of studio art) before they can be considered as majors.

Normally, before taking the junior qualifying exam, students should have taken the following courses at Reed (in addition to two 100-level art courses in different disciplines and Art 201): for students planning a studio art thesis, at least one unit of studio art at the 300 level; for students planning an art history thesis, three units of art history. Students should inquire with the art department about appropriate substitutions.

Junior Qualifying Exam

Art History

The current qual in Art History takes place as part of a semester-long junior seminar dedicated to guiding students through the research and writing process. Two faculty members co-teach the course, which is designed around a theme of their devising, but where the focus is always on sustaining and writing a long research paper. The weekly readings attempt to diversify students' resources for approaching the materials of their research while reminding them of key methodological texts from their Intro courses. Throughout the course, and in tandem with the readings, students workshop their writing with one other. In this process, students become resources for one other, as every student taking the qual in Art History in a given year writes their qualifying papers together. Additionally, with two faculty members leading the course, students have a wider range of faculty expertise on which to draw.

Studio Art

The Studio Art junior qual is a ten-day process. The students are given a short essay or essays to read and are asked to respond in two ways: 1. write a 4-5 page paper, and 2. make ten preliminary studies plus a more developed work, in any medium. They are also asked to write a 2-3 page paper on their own past works that they consider to have been important to the development of the qual in particular and their art practice in general. The papers are distributed to the qual evaluators (two studio art and one art history faculty) and the qual art works and a selection of previous work are displayed in a designated space. The 45 minute oral exam addresses both the studio work and the paper, and concludes with asking the student about their ideas for senior thesis. The faculty regard the qual as diagnostic. Students rarely fail the qual outright, but students can receive a conditional pass. This is usually given when it is felt that the student would benefit from doing additional reading and writing before starting thesis. These students are then re-evaluated at the beginning of the next semester before writing a thesis proposal.

Senior Thesis

The senior thesis encourages students to pursue a significant, clearly defined project through individual initiative and independent work, culminating in a unified body of art or historical study.

Evaluating Quals and Theses

Art History

Art History assesses both qualifying papers and theses by considering two related, but distinct categories of work: 1. the process and 2. the final result. We evaluate the process by considering how diligent the student has been from week to week, their level of preparation for meetings with their advisor, their resourcefulness in pushing through the kinds of obstacles that all researchers face, and their level of dedication to the project and the process overall. For the junior qual, a student's work in the junior seminar, including participation in conference, becomes part of the final assessment. All of the axes of evaluation related to process can be assessed irrespective of the quality of the final product. When evaluating the final product, we consider the quality of the writing (e.g., style, rhetoric, persuasiveness, creativity, voice); the depth of the research and resulting knowledge of the relevant fields; the level of engagement with existing literatures; the precision and creativity of the formal analyses of their objects; and the coherence and persuasiveness of the project overall. When assessing senior theses, we meet as a department and discuss each student individually. This allows us to continually revise and update our standards of assessment, but also to discuss students in relation to each other from year to year. The final grade is given by the primary advisor, but all grades are considered in full awareness of other theses in a given year. For the junior qualifying paper, the final project is evaluated by both of the professors who teach the course.

Studio Art

Both Art History and Studio Art hold 45-60 minute mini orals at the end of the first semester to discuss thesis first chapters. Studio Art majors also display the work they have produced up to that point. The mini orals for Studio involve two artists and one historian, who offer students suggestions for how to develop their projects. The same department faculty members participate in the final thesis oral exam, which is held in the student’s thesis exhibit. The weight of the Studio Art final evaluation is on 1. the integrity and diligence of the year-long process, 2. the quality and ambition of the creative work, and 3. the written document, which is expected to address the development of the project over the year, its theoretical and historical art context, and an assessment of the work produced and how it might be carried further. Members of the orals board are asked for their thoughts on the thesis grade, but the advisor ultimately determines the final grade.

Pacific Northwest College of Art Program

Reed students are eligible to apply to a joint program with the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). The joint program requires five years: the first and second years at Reed, followed by a two-year course of full-time study at PNCA, and a fifth year combining work at both institutions. Graduates of this program receive a bachelor of arts with a major in art from Reed and a bachelor of fine arts from PNCA.

Students interested in this course of study are strongly advised to meet with the Reed chair of the joint program before the end of their first year. Although application to the program occurs in the fourth semester, it is important that students be aware of the requirement differences for the Reed art and joint program majors. Applicants to the program are recommended by the Reed chair, and acceptance is contingent upon successful completion of at least 16 units of Reed credit, including at least three units of studio art and one unit of art history at Reed.