Guidelines and Procedures for Undergraduate Honors in Anthropology

Undergraduate students interested in working for an Honors degree should apply to the Chair of the Honors Committee (Director of Undergraduate Study) in the second semester of their junior year (requests for late admission may be considered, but in no case later than the second week of the first semester of the senior year). We encourage students to conduct research for the Honors Thesis in the summer between their junior and senior year. It is the student’s responsibility to identify an appropriate topic for a thesis and to find a faculty member willing to sponsor and supervise the research; the advisor and at least the general subject of the thesis must be identified at the time of application for admission to the Honors program. Note that clearance from the University Committee on Human Subjects usually is required before research involving living people may begin; students contemplating such research should begin to work with their thesis advisors to design their investigations and obtain the clearance well in advance of the date when the involvement with research subjects is to begin.

Admission to the Honors Program requires an overall GPA of 3.3 or greater and a 3.5 GPA in the major. In addition, the student should have no outstanding Incompletes in courses that will be used towards the Major (provisional admission with Incompletes is possible at the discretion of the Chair of the Honors Committee on evidence that a good faith effort to finish them is underway). Under special circumstances, a student with an overall GPA of 3.0 may petition for admittance to the Program.

Writing an Honors thesis typically is a two-semester project involving eight credits of coursework; most students do this work during their senior year. During their first semester of Honors work, students typically register for (1) Anthropology 4983, Honors Thesis Research (3 credits); and (2) Anthropology 4991, Honors Workshop I (1 credit). During their second semester of Honors work, students typically register for (1) Anthropology 4984, Honors Thesis Write-up (2 credits); and (2) Anthropology 4992, Honors Workshop II (2 credits). The two course/term arrangement reflects the division of supervision over the thesis between the thesis advisor and the Chair of the Honors Committee. The thesis advisor is ultimately responsible for guiding the scholarly development of the thesis; the Chair of the Honors Committee is mainly responsible for assuring timely progress toward completion of the thesis, and providing a context for students in the Honors program to share ideas (both editorial and substantive) as their theses progress.

  • ANTHR 4983 (3 credits; Letter only) will consist of research work supervised by the thesis advisor, concentrating on determination of the major issues to be addressed by the thesis, preparation of literature reviews, analysis of data, and the like. The thesis advisor will assign the grade for this course.
  • ANTHR 4991 (1 credit; S/U only) will consist of several mandatory meetings of all thesis writers with the Honors Chair. These sessions will inform students about the standard thesis production timetable, format and content expectations, and deadlines; expose students to standard reference sources; and introduce students to each other’s projects. The Chair of the Honors Committee will assign the grade for this course.
  • ANTHR 4984 (2 credits; Letter only) consists of final write-up of the thesis under the direct supervision of the thesis advisor, who will assign the grade for this course. ANTHR 4992 (2 credit; Letter only) will consist of weekly, seminar-style meetings of all thesis writers until mid-semester, under the direction of the Honors Chair. This second semester concentrates on preparation of a full draft of the thesis by mid-semester, with ample time left for revisions prior to submission. Group meetings will concentrate on collective reviewing of the work of other students, presentation of research, and the like.

Only Anthropology 4984 and 4992 can be used to count toward the minimum hours for completion of the Anthropology major.

Students who do not follow the typical Fall-research/Spring-writing pattern (e.g., those students who elect to finish their thesis in the Fall, or those who elect to complete the entire process in one semester) should consult with the Chair of the Honors Committee and their thesis advisor to work out a plan of study. Typically these will involve the student’s integration at some level into the Honors Workshop offered during the semesters a student is working on a thesis.

Submission of a thesis does not guarantee an Honors degree. Each thesis will be evaluated by the student’s thesis advisor, the Chair of the Honors Committee, and one additional faculty member. Each faculty reader will submit an evaluation of the thesis and a recommendation for a grade for Anthropology 4984, although the thesis advisor ultimately awards the grade.

At least three copies of a final draft of the thesis must be submitted to the thesis advisor no later than the Monday of the 13th week of classes of the semester in which the student expects to graduate. The thesis should be a complete draft at this point, with illustrations, citations and bibliography. Citations should follow the style of the American Anthropologist; other formatting considerations (e.g., footnotes versus endnotes) should be worked out in consultation with the thesis advisor. The thesis advisor will distribute copies to the other readers and may schedule a conference in which the readers discuss the thesis with the student.

The student may wish to revise the draft in light of the discussion, and readers may wish to see the revisions before submitting their evaluations and grade recommendations; the thesis advisor will coordinate these arrangements. A final, inexpensively bound, copy of the thesis, signed on the title page by the thesis advisor, must be submitted to the Chair of the Honors Committee no later than the Friday of the week following the last week of classes.

All faculty recommendations are due on that day as well. The student’s major advisor, the thesis advisor, the Chair of the Honors Committee, and any other faculty thesis reader will make recommendations about whether Honors should be awarded, and if so at what level. This recommendation is based on the student’s overall performance; that is, the criteria include, but are not limited to, the thesis. Possible recommendations are: no honors, Honors (cum laude), High Honors (magna cum laude), and Highest Honors (summa cum laude). In any case in which there is substantial disagreement among the recommendations, the Chair of the Honors Committee will seek to resolve the disagreement in whatever manner seems most appropriate and fair. The Chair of the Honors Committee will notify the entire faculty of tentative Honors recommendations before they are transmitted to the Dean.

Students have the right to appeal any recommendation concerning Honors that they feel is inappropriate. Procedures for such appeal can be worked out on an ad hoc basis by the Chair of the Honors Committee and the Chair of the Department.

At least one copy of each Honors thesis will be retained by the department and filed in some convenient place for the guidance of future Honors candidates.