Departmental Honors

Honors in Sociology


  • Cumulative GPA and major GPA of 3.5 or better, and
  • Prior completion of Socg 364 – if pursuing a quantitative research project
  • Prior completion of Socg 365 – if pursuing a qualitative research project
  • Prior completion of Socg 471 or 472
  • Senior standing at the time the research project is conducted


In the spring or summer preceding the senior year, a student seeking to pursue an honors project must approach a full-time sociology faculty member to request permission to enroll in the fall semester for three credits of Socg 491, “Individual Study and Research.”

If the fall research project develops successfully, as measured by the sponsoring faculty member’s approval and the awarding of a grade of “A” – the student, if  wishing to continue to pursue honors, will next prepare a formal, written Honors Project Proposal.

The Honors Project Proposal must present a statement of purpose, a review of the academic literature relevant to the topic, and a description of the empirical research methods selected for gathering data. The Honors Project Proposal (approximately seven pages in length) must be submitted for approval to two additional full-time sociology faculty members, as well as the original faculty sponsor. (Where appropriate, and with permission of the sponsoring faculty member, a full-time faculty member from another discipline may be added as a fourth member of the Honors Committee.) The Honors Project Proposal must be delivered to faculty members of the Honors Committee by the first day of classes in January of the Spring term of the student’s senior year.

If the Honors Committee unanimously approves the proposal, the student will then enroll for the Spring semester in Socg 492, “Individual Study and Research.” Note that the three credits earned in Socg 492, though counting towards graduation, will not count toward fulfillment of the 18 elective credits required in the sociology major.

The final paper describing the completed research project, termed the Honors Thesis, must be submitted to the Honors Committee for review by the end of the 12th week of classes in the Spring semester. Each member of the committee must be given a copy. An oral defense of the project will be held before or during the last week of classes, after which time the Honors Committee will vote on whether or not to award the project Departmental Honors. If Departmental Honors are denied, the student nonetheless receives the academic credits for which s/he was enrolled.

If approved, the final copy of the Honors Thesis – including the official signed “approval sheet” – must be deposited with the university’s special collections librarian by the Friday of exam week.

Honors in Anthropology


  • cumulative and major GPAS of 3.5;
  • rising senior anthropology major status


Departmental honors in anthropology is awarded primarily on the basis of an honors thesis written mainly under the supervision of a committee chaired by that member of the anthropology faculty with the greatest expertise in the student’s area of interest. Throughout the course of the candidate’s research, she or he must satisfy the committee that the project is worthwhile, that it is going forward in a timely way, and finally that it deserves departmental honors.

A successful honors thesis presents an original, informed, persuasive argument based on extensive, sound, imaginative scholarship; broad knowledge of the topic and understanding of the theoretical framework within which the candidate discusses the topic; and competent writing. An honors candidate should expect to work independently for the most part, with minimal guidance from the advisor(s). Ideally, a successful honors project should be
publishable in a minor anthropological journal.

College support is available to allow qualified students to travel in connection with research projects and to pay for expenses such as photocopying and inter-library loan. The student should consult the honors advisor about deadlines for submitting grant requests.

Working toward honors in anthropology typically takes at least one calendar year. The steps outlined here must be followed, or the committee may decline to examine the candidate’s thesis for honors.

A candidate interested in pursuing honors should develop a project no later than the late spring of the penultimate undergraduate year and approach a qualified member of the department about acting as advisor, and also inform the instructor for ANTH 480, 481 for the following academic year of her or his plan to submit an honors thesis.

If the project shows promise, the candidate, in consultation with the advisor, will organize the honors committee who will oversee the project. The committee consists of between three and five faculty members. It may include one or two members from outside the department, but the majority of the committee must be from this department. The candidate must request the participation of potential committee members in writing, using a form available from the project advisor. By signing the form, the faculty member agrees to be a part of the committee. The candidate should provide a duplicate of the signed form to the appropriate member of the committee. A candidate must have the committee membership in place by the end of the fourth week of classes in the fall semester.

Anthropology honors candidates prepare for and write their theses while taking the required courses ANTH 480: Senior Research (Fall semester) and ANTH 481: Senior Thesis (Spring semester). In addition to the regular course requirements, the honors candidate must submit a proposal for the final thesis to the members of the committee by no later than Friday of the last full week of the Fall semester. The proposal will, at the least, state the nature and
importance of the project, show what work the student has done towards completing it, demonstrate the student’s familiarity with the literature and theory relating to the project, and suggest probable conclusions of the project. Proposals must be in formal academic style, with citations and a bibliography. Usually such a proposal is between 2500 and 3000 words. If the proposal is not approved, the project is no longer eligible for honors, but the candidate will receive three credits for ANTH 480 (if appropriate. The chair of the committee will inform the candidate of the committee’s reaction by the end of the first week of the Spring semester.  If the committee passes the proposal, the candidate will write the thesis during the Spring semester while enrolled in ANTH 481. During that time, the candidate should feel free to consult the members of the committee for advice, and should let them know how the project is developing.

By the second Friday before final exams begin, the candidate will submit the thesis to the committee for reading. Before the last day of classes, the candidate will defend the thesis orally before the committee and any others who wish to attend. The committee will decide at the conclusion of the defense whether to award honors. The committee may ask a candidate to make modifications to the thesis before sending it to the library; or it may ask the candidate to revise and re-submit the thesis, withholding the award of honors pending successful revision. Others besides the committee and the candidate who attend the defense have no official part in this decision.  Should the candidate fail to satisfy the committee, she or he will receive three credits for ANTH 481 (if appropriate).