Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to start the thesis project during the summer prior to the fall semester?

If you can begin working on the project, by all means do so. Many anthropology projects require substantial fieldwork or the collection of primary data. Please note that there are several pre-Honors and pre-thesis scholarships available both at the Department and at Charles Center. You should discuss this possibility with the Thesis Director when you first discuss the Honors possibility, before or in February of your junior year.  You should discuss this possibility with the Thesis Director when you first discuss the Honors possibility in fall semester of your junior year.

During my senior year, do I have to meet with the Thesis Director every week? How does the Director evaluate my performance during the fall semester?

Regular meetings with the Thesis Director are expected. The schedule of meeting must be worked out between the faculty advisor and the candidate. The students are strongly encouraged to seek theoretical, methodological, and logistical expertise and advice from the Director throughout the year. By the end of the fall semester, the Director assesses the evidence of the student's competence, and decides whether the project has been progressing steadily and in a timely way. Then the director determines whether the student is capable of continuing and pursuing the Honors project in the spring semester (Anthropology 496.)

If it becomes evident before the end of the first term that the student will not complete the project, the supervising faculty member must either (1) withdraw the student from Honors 495; or (2) change the Honors 495 designation to an appropriate alternative, such as independent study. A candidate who successfully completes Honors 495 at the end of the fall semester receives a grade of "G." The faculty member must contact the Undergraduate Committee as well as the Charles Center.

Shall I seek advice from other professors besides the Thesis Director? Shall I give draft copies to the other members of the Examining Committee?

During the fall semester and the early part of the spring semester, students are encouraged to seek expert opinions in order to pursue the Honors project. However, critiques and comments on your project by other experts should be discussed with the Thesis Director before you integrate them into your project.

Please note that you are under the primary supervision of your Thesis Director. You must obtain the approval of him or her before submitting the final draft thesis to the other members of the Examining Committee. If the thesis is not of high quality, the Director notifies the student in order to change his or her academic status. Usually this means moving the student from Anth 495-496 to alternative courses. Only in an extraordinary circumstance, may an "I" (incomplete) be awarded. If, after reading the thesis, the committee finds it provisionally acceptable, the department schedules an oral examination.

How many copies should I make of the completed thesis and where shall I deliver them?

Usually five. You should make as many copies as the number of the examiners (usually 3), one for Swem Library, and one for the Department. You do not need to send a thesis copy to the Charles Center nor to the Undergraduate Committee of Anthropology. Please deliver the thesis to each member of the committee in person.

When and how should I schedule the oral examination?

It is not you, but your Thesis Director who sets the date of oral examination in consultation with the other members of the Examining Committee. The Thesis Director notifies you and the Chair of the Undergraduate Committee about the date and place of the oral exam. However, you should always confirm that all key players are prepared to attend your oral defense.

What is the oral examination like? What types of questions do the examiners ask?

The oral lasts at least one hour. The main purpose of the examination is to ask questions about the Honors Thesis. Be prepared to discuss major research findings and your contributions to the advancement of anthropological knowledge. You may also elaborate on your methodological strategies. You should be able to highlight the scholarly merits of your thesis and to show evidence of your competence as a budding anthropologist. The examiners want to assess the value of the thesis, as well as your knowledge and methodological effectiveness. They critique your work against the standards in the discipline. After the oral exam, the committee may instruct the candidate to correct any errors discovered during the evaluation process.

How many thesis cover sheets should I take to the oral examination for the professors to sign?

At least four. The first one goes to the Charles Center immediately after the oral examination. The second one is for Swem Library. (One unbound copy of the Honors Thesis, including the original signatures of the Examining Committee, must be submitted on acid-free paper to the Thesis Director by the last day of regularly scheduled examinations for delivery to the University Archives, located in Swem Library.) The third original sheet must be attached to the departmental copy that must be kept in the Department library. In addition, you need one original for your own thesis copy. From this original you can make copies for the Thesis Director and/or other examiners.

How do I prepare the Honors Thesis for Swem Library?

Please check the information at the Charles Center, which explains in detail the submission of the thesis to archives.