Senior Honors in Anthropology

The Honors Program for majors in Anthropology offers an opportunity to explore a topic of your own choosing in-depth. This is an independent research project: you devise the research question. You draft the research plan. You do the analysis. You write the thesis and defend it before a committee.

You will work under the supervision of a professor serving as your Honors Advisor. The role of the Honors Advisor is to provide advice, to make sure that your project stays on track to meet deadlines, and that it adheres to the standards of our discipline. Your Honors Advisor will determine if your project will continue on for a second semester, and will serve as the chair of the Examining Committee, which evaluates your final thesis.

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

Eligibility

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.

Timetable

The Charles Center administers the Honors Program. All participants will follow their guidelines. Participation in the Honors Program in Anthropology follows the following timeline:

Junior year, December 1: Find an Honors Advisor

Find an Anthropology professor who is tenured, tenure-eligible, a Research professor, or a continuing faculty member of the Department to serve as your Honors Advisor. Your Honors Advisor should be a faculty member who is knowledgeable about the research topic. They will help you develop your project proposal: formulating your question, designing your approach and methods of study, creating your preliminary bibliography. They will also serve as your "supervisor" while you work on your project. They will be the one you come to with questions. They will be the one who decides if your progress is acceptable. Your Advisor can also point 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 examples of the proposals from previous years. These can be found either in the department office or by contacting the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Junior year, February 1: Submit your proposal, apply for grants

When you have written a proposal that your Honors Advisor can approve, apply for admission to the Honors program through the Charles Center. They will send you a form/cover sheet. You will have the form signed by your Honors Advisor. Submit your proposal, together with the signed cover sheet, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies before 5pm on February 1. By this same deadline, your Honors Advisor will submit via email 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 proposal evaluation. 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 and Senior years: Research

If you can begin working on the project over the summer, by all means do so. Many anthropology 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 do research work over the summer, but you should start applying for it early.

Senior year, Fall Semester: Research and 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 the one who bears the responsibility for the successful completion of the year's project.

During this time, you will hold regular meetings with, and seek the advice of, your Honors Advisor. You should meet frequently enough that they can make sure you're making adequate progress, and so. they can help you fix things if you run into any issues. We recommend that you meet once a week, but this 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. Your Examining 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. If you successfully complete Honors 495, you will receive a grade of "G" at the end of the first term of the project. During open enrollment, register for ANTH 496: Honors.

If it becomes 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 and editing

Write and edit your thesis. Continue to work with your Honors Advisor and other writing experts.

Senior year, March 1: First draft

Submit your first draft to your Honors Advisor by this date, or on an earlier date if required by your Honors Advisor. 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, but 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 typographical or mechanical 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 and Honors Advisor 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]) for signatures with you to the exam. The oral exam will last at least one hour. 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 Committee will judge your work based on the standards of the discipline. 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 must 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 bound and printed on acid-free paper for the department's library. We recommend that you keep a copy of your thesis on acid-free paper for your own records.