Research in Anthropology

Departmental Honors in Anthropology

Students may become candidates for honors in Anthropology at the invitation of the department at the end of their junior year. Candidates for honors complete at least two semesters of independent work beyond the usual major requirements for graduation and undergo an oral examination by a committee composed of two members of the Anthropology faculty and one faculty member from another department who is chosen in consultation with the student’s thesis advisor. Students who are invited to become candidates for departmental honors sign up for a year-long 500 (C and D) independent research course with their thesis advisor. During the fall semester the student will attend the Senior Seminar (ANTH401), meet regularly with their Honors Thesis advisor regarding their honors project, and produce a senior thesis for presentation at the major’s symposium in February. During the spring semester the student will revise and expand the thesis for oral examination by the thesis committee by the beginning of May. The committee assigns a grade for the thesis; to receive departmental honors a student must receive a grade of at least B+ for the thesis as determined by the committee.

To apply to become a candidate for honors in Anthropology a student must have an overall grade point average of at least 3.0 and an overall grade point average of at least 3.3 in the major, and submit an honors thesis proposal to the department for approval. This honors thesis proposal should outline its topic, the methods used to pursue it, the theoretical perspectives it will engage, and the significance of the work. The honors thesis proposal should also specify whom the candidate would like to participate in the thesis committee (including the thesis advisor), and explain how the particular expertise of each proposed committee member is relevant to the project. The proposal should also detail how the honors thesis will expand upon the senior thesis, and explain the importance of expanding the senior thesis in the manner proposed. All honors thesis proposals must also undergo internal review by Wheaton’s Internal Review Board in order to determine that the investigator has adequately considered potential risks that their research might pose to their research subjects, and provided a means in their research design for ensuring that such risks are minimized or eliminated. See Ethnographic Research and IRB (pdf) for guidelines and further information about this process.

Deadlines for Honors Candidates

Students interested in departmental honors should begin consultation with faculty by the end of their junior year at the latest. Students who think they might want to pursue an honors thesis based on study abroad in their junior year, or on internships that they might hold during their junior year or the following summer must submit their proposal for IRB review and have them approved prior to beginning their research.

Honors Thesis Proposal

Normally, this should be submitted by the end of the student’s junior year. At the latest, this must be submitted prior to the department’s first departmental meeting of the fall semester of the student’s senior year, which is normally the first Friday after the beginning of classes.

Registration for 500 C Independent Study

This is done after the department has met to discuss the student’s proposal, usually during the second week of classes in the fall.

Initial Review of Honors These Progress

This should occur before the deadline for dropping courses.

Selection of Thesis Committee Members

This should be done once the department has reviewed the candidate’s progress and approves the continuation of the honors thesis project. When asking faculty members to participate as members of the committee, the candidate should also apprise them of this time line, and ask what preliminary work they would like to see, if any, as the project develops.

Registration for 500 D Independent Study

This is done during the normal registration period for the spring semester, and is subject to review and approval by the department. If it is determined either by the candidate or the department that the thesis project should not be further pursued, the thesis advisor determines what would be required to complete the first semester’s course as a one semester independent study.

Submission of Thesis for Advisor Review

The candidate must submit a copy of the complete thesis to her advisor in the beginning of April: traditionally April 1st for final review before circulating the thesis for committee review.  The candidate should also ask other members of the committee if they would like to review the thesis at this point before the official submission to the committee for review in preparation of the defense.

Submission of Thesis for Committee Review

The candidate must submit and distribute the complete thesis for review by the defense committee by the end of the second week of April. The thesis advisor, in collaboration with the candidate, will establish intervening deadlines for drafts of various sections of the thesis.


To be scheduled during the last week of classes, at latest.

Submission of Thesis to Registrar

The final thesis, printed on archival paper and incorporating whatever revisions the committee may have requested, is normally due at noon on the Monday following the spring exam period. The committee may request that the candidate submit a revised version for their review prior to the final submission to the registrar.