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Senior Honors in Anthropology

The Honors Program for majors in Anthropology offers you an opportunity to conduct in-depth analysis on a topic of your choice. This is an independent research project in which you 1) devise the research question, 2) draft the research plan, 3) do the analysis, and 4) write and defend a thesis before your committee.

You will choose an honors advisor who will supervise your work. Your honors advisor will provide intellectual and practical research guidance. Your honors advisor will also help you plan and prioritize to ensure your project stays on track to meet deadlines. Lastly, your honors advisor will serve as the chair of the examining committee, which evaluates your final thesis.

Upon completing the program, you will be granted the award of Honors, High Honors or Highest Honors. You will also earn 6 credits in ANTH 495 and 496 courses.


To be eligible to apply for Honors, you must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA in Anthropology and a 3.0 cumulative GPA overall at the time of application.

Contact Information

Direct questions or to submit material, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.


The Charles Center administers the Honors Program. All participants will follow their guidelines. The following timeline describes the Honors Program process:

Junior year, December 1: Find an Honors Advisor

Find an Anthropology professor to serve as your honors advisor. Your honors advisor should be a faculty member who is knowledgeable about the research topic. They will be the one you go to with questions and will help you develop your project proposal. Your proposal will include a research question, research methodology, and working bibliography. Your honors advisor will also supervise your project and will decide if your project is acceptable. Your honors advisor can also direct you towards various research funding opportunities and help you get those applications started.

Each professor may only supervise 2 Honors students per year, so it may be wise to have an alternate honors advisor in mind if your first choice is unavailable.

We recommend that you review completed honors projects for ideas and for examples of successful projects. You may also consult proposals from previous years. These can be found in the Anthropology department office or by contacting the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Junior year, February 1: Submit your proposal & Apply for grants

Once your honors advisor has approved your project proposal, apply for admission to the Honors program through the Charles Center. They will send you a form/cover sheet which your honors advisor must sign. Submit your proposal, together with the signed cover sheet, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies before 5pm on February 1. This same deadline applies to your honors advisor who must submit a letter to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. This letter will outline the merits and significance of your proposed honors project. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will then share both documents with the Undergraduate Committee.

If you want to apply for grants to fund travel or other research expenses, start doing so now. Several opportunities have deadlines at the end of February.

Junior year, February 15: Proposal evaluation

The Director of Undergraduate Studies will email you the Undergraduate Committee's evaluation of your proposal. The Undergraduate Committee's evaluation will consist either of an outline of specific concerns that need attention, or a statement approving the proposal. You are invited to revise and resubmit proposals that require further work.

Junior year, March 1: Final proposal

Submit your revised proposal, if necessary, by 5pm, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Junior year, March 10: Final proposal evaluation

The Director of Undergraduate Studies will email you the final proposal evaluation from the Undergraduate Committee. This evaluation will determine whether you may go forward with the honors project. If your project is approved, the Charles Center will register you for the honors course, Anthropology 495.

Summer between Junior & Senior years: Research

Many projects require substantial field work or the collection of primary data. The more you can do over the summer, the smoother your senior year will go. There is funding available to support you while you conduct summer research work, but you should start applying for it early.

Senior year, Fall Semester: Research & Writing

You will earn credit for your work on your Honors project in the course ANTH 495: Honors. If you didn't do any work on your project over the summer, you will start now. You are expected to pursue a systematic program of theoretical exploration, methodological development, primary data collection, data analysis, and writing. You are responsible for the completion of the project.

During this time, you will hold regular meetings with your honors advisor. You should meet frequently so that they can make sure you're making adequate progress and help you address potential research setbacks. We recommend meeting once a week, but this arrangement is between you and your honors advisor.

Senior year, December 1: Examining Committee

Your Examining Committee will review your thesis and conduct your oral exam. The committee will consist of your honors advisor, another Anthropology professor, and a third professor from outside the department. You may propose potential committee members to your honors advisor. The final selection of the examining committee membership is approved by the Anthropology Undergraduate Committee.

Senior year, End of Fall Semester: Progress check, register for ANTH 496

You will complete a preliminary research and progress report. Once completing Honors 495, you will receive a grade of "G" at the end of the first term of the project. During open enrollment, you must then register for ANTH 496: Honors.

If it is evident before the end of the first term that you will not complete the project, you must either withdraw from Honors 495, or change the Honors 495 designation to an appropriate alternative, such as ANTH 460: Independent Research. Your Honors Advisor will help you with this decision, and will notify the Undergraduate Committee as soon as the decision is made.

Senior year, Early Spring Semester: Writing & Editing

Write and edit your thesis. Continue to work with your honors advisor and other writing experts.

Senior year, March 1: First draft

Submit the first draft of your honors thesis to your advisor. Your honors advisor may require you to submit on an earlier date. They will review the draft and make suggestions.

Senior year, Mid-April: Final thesis to Examining Committee

Once your honors advisor approves of your thesis, no later than two weeks before the last day of classes, submit copies of your thesis to the members of your Examining Committee. After this, only minor edits are allowed.

Senior year, Late April: Oral Examination

Your Examining Committee awards your final grade and honors level. They base their judgement on your thesis and performance on an oral examination. Your honors advisor will coordinate with the members of your Examining Committee to schedule the time, date, and location of your thesis defense.

Bring at least four copies of your thesis cover sheet (here's an example cover page [doc]) with you to the exam. Your committee will need to sign several copies of this document. The oral exam will last at least one hour. Be prepared to discuss major research findings and your contributions to the field of anthropology. Also prepare to answer questions from your committee and other audience. After the oral exam, the committee may ask you to correct any errors in your thesis discovered during the evaluation process.

If the Examining Committee determines that the thesis does not merit Honors, the committee will change Honors 495 and 496 to appropriate alternatives and award grades for these courses. Your honors advisor will notify the Undergraduate Director and the Charles Center of their decision. Honors 495 and/or 496 will not remain on your transcript if you are not awarded Honors by the Examining Committee.

Senior year, Last day of exams: Submit thesis to archives

Before 5 pm on the last Friday of scheduled exams, electronically submit your thesis to the University Archives in Swem. You will also give the Anthropology Department a copy of your thesis, printed and bound on acid-free paper for the department's library.