Penn Arts & Sciences Logo


A key feature of the Visual Studies major is the senior project, a year-long individual exploration of some topic within the Visual Studies field. The form of the thesis may vary (research essay, a coherent body of visual work, installation, digital presentation, performance, or a combination). Research essays should be approximately 40 to 50 pages in length and be accompanied by some form of visual presentation or supplement. Projects that are primarily visual presentations must be accompanied by a 20+ page paper documenting the thinking and research that went into the project and articulating its relevance to the field of Visual Studies. 

Each senior project must have two faculty advisers. They will typically be professors with whom the student has worked previously, but they must specialize in different fields and sectors. For example, if the first adviser represents a discipline located in sector B, the other adviser must come from sector A or C. Grades for senior theses are assigned primarily by the faculty advisers with input from the faculty leading the senior thesis seminar (VLST 3950).

All projects are exhibited in the annual exhibition of Visual Studies senior theses that takes place in the weeks before commencement in a gallery on campus. Students are responsible for installing their work in the gallery and removing it at the close of the exhibition. Each senior class collectively designs the exhibition announcement and exhibition catalogue with the guidance of the Visual Studies Program Coordinator and the thesis seminar faculty. 

Please explore our archive of senior projects: 

Senior Project Years List