The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers an honors program for students seeking independent and in-depth research opportunities. The program provides qualified majors the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the discipline through a year-long project of their own design, engaging in empirical analysis and theoretical application that culminates in submission of an honors thesis. This program is not to be confused with College Honors, which is a separate entity. To be eligible a student must be a major with an overall GPA of at least 3.25 and a departmental GPA of at least 3.5, and must have completed the theory and methods requirements before the senior year. Application to the Department must normally be made by late March (date TBD yearly) of the junior year. Only students whose thesis proposal is approved may waive the capstone seminar requirements.
To graduate with Honors in Sociology or Anthropology, a student must:
- Prepare a thesis – satisfactorily completing “Directed Honors Research,” “Honors Thesis,” and “Honors Colloquium”
- Maintain a GPA of 3.25 overall and 3.5 in the department.
- Satisfactory completion (at least a grade of B) of the theory and methods requirements
- Completed six courses in the major by the end of the junior year
- A 3.50 cumulative grade point in the major
- A 3.25 cumulative grade point average overall
- A thesis proposal supported by two faculty members
- Application approved by the Department
The Honors Program in Sociology and Anthropology is open to outstanding majors during their senior year. Ideally, potential honors students should have completed their theory and methods requirements and at least four other courses in their major. Inevitably, an honors thesis will require a knowledge of methods and some theoretical sophistication. Students who earn an average grade of at least a B in each of these two courses and a 3.5 or better in the major are eligible for the honors program.
The first step in entering the honors program is to find a faculty member in the department who will serve as your honors advisor; later, you will add a thesis reader and these two people become your thesis committee. A good time to do this is in the first or early second semester of your third year. Your objective is to brainstorm with the faculty you consult and begin reviewing literature relevant to the questions and issues that interest you in order to formulate your actual research question(s), in a manner that remains interesting and is manageable. This start-up period often is one of the greatest challenges in honors research. Before the end of your junior year, you and your thesis advisor should have achieved agreement on the thesis topic.
The best way to find your honors advisor and reader is to speak to the faculty members with whom you have taken courses. Faculty members may want to see your transcript.
The student may propose an original topic for the thesis project or a faculty member may suggest a topic, but you must mutually agree. Some students will collect original data; they may carry out informal interviews, develop and administer questionnaires, observe behavior, or analyze both texts and images. Other students will use data already collected by someone else. Still others will develop theoretical or conceptual analyses of a sociological or anthropological issue. After your thesis advisor and you agree on the project, you find another faculty person to serve as a reader and submit a thesis proposal to the Department.
Application to the Department must be made by late March of the junior year. The application should identify the advisor and reader, and the thesis proposal should be five double-spaced typed pages and include a statement detailing the specific theoretical and empirical issues or problems to be considered, a description of the methods to be used, and a concise survey of the most important literature on the topic. A working bibliography of significant sources should be appended to the proposal. The Department may ask a student to rewrite the proposal and to submit it again. Approved candidates receive a letter of invitation with permission to enroll in “Directed Honors Research.”
In the summer between the third and fourth year, students should be working on their theses. This is a great time to be reading background texts, and if possible, occasionally consulting with your thesis supervisor. This way, you will be able to hit the ground running at the beginning of your fourth year.
- Completion of Anthropology 492/Sociology 492, “Directed Honors Research”
- Completion of Anthropology 493/Sociology 493, “Honors Thesis”
- Completion of Anthropology 490/Sociology 490 and Anthropology 491/Sociology 491, "Honors Colloquium"
The honors program consists of two courses and one colloquium during the senior year. The first course (“Directed Honors Research”), taken in the fall semester of the senior year, is typically devoted to developing a chapter that involves a thorough review of the relevant literature, the clear formulation of the research questions or hypotheses that grow out of the literature review, and a summary of the research design that clearly describes how the data are to be collected and analyzed. Those students collecting original data will also submit a request to the Institutional Review Board (see below) to conduct research with human subjects and, once approved, will begin this research. The first months of the fall semester are usually devoted to this, but it can be helpful to get started on these tasks in the summer before your senior year if you can.
To receive a grade for the first semester the student must submit to the thesis adviser by the last day of classes a manuscript containing, for example, the literature review and research design (or other content requested by the advisor and reader), a bibliography, and any other materials required by the advisor and reader. Most often, to be permitted to continue in the Honors Program and enroll in “Honors Thesis” in the spring, the student will need to have written and revised at least one chapter of the thesis before the start of the spring semester. Continuation in the Honors Program requires a recommendation from your faculty thesis advisor and reader.
Students will also enroll in the research colloquium, which meets bi-weekly to cover various research-related topics and to help students prepare for their culminating presentations at the Academic Conference. The colloquium is offered on a pass/no pass basis and counts for one-half credit per semester.
Meeting regularly with the thesis advisor and reader is, of course, expected. An honors thesis typically involves much discussion over both semesters between the student and the primary thesis adviser. Students should meet early in the first semester with their adviser to agree on ground rules for the project and to set up a schedule for discussions and submission of written work. Your thesis committee members will almost always suggest changes in chapter drafts, so you should submit the chapter drafts in a timely fashion to give yourself ample time to revise. The final approved version of the thesis is due no later than May 8. You must give copies of the completed and approved thesis to each committee member and to the Department.
Virtually all thesis projects involve collecting data from “human subjects” (through interviews and/or observation) and must be reviewed and approved by the IRB (Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects). The IRB review can take time. If you intend to collect information from minors or information on a topic that involves a risk “out of the everyday” (e.g., reports on sexual experience), your proposal requires a full IRB review. This takes added time. If the IRB protocol is not ready by mid-to-late October, you are likely to have trouble collecting data during the fall.
The written thesis will range in length, but most will be between 50 and 75 pages. The written thesis is the final document that results from your year’s study and research. It typically contains a statement of your research question(s), a review of relevant literature, an analysis of evidence/data you have gathered, and theory-inspired discussion with conclusions. It may take the form of a research article or an extended narrative of historical analysis. We recommend that your citations and references follow the style sheet of the American Sociological Association or American Anthropological Association (which adheres to the Chicago Manual of Style).
- A grade point average of 3.50 in the major at graduation
- A grade of “B+” or above in Sociology 493/Anthropology 493
- Oral presentation of the thesis at the College Academic Conference
Departmental Honors are conferred upon successful completion of the Honors Program. This includes presenting in a panel at the annual Academic Conference and submitting the final copy of the thesis. You will receive your final grade after you have submitted a final copy of your thesis to your advisor, reader, and the Department. It is customary also to give a final copy to the reader. The Department will keep your thesis with other honors theses in Beaven 220, the Administrative Assistant’s Office. These should be paper-bound copies with the cover page listing the title, abstract, date, your name, and the name and signature of the thesis advisor and reader.