Honors in Anthropology

Outstanding senior majors in Anthropology may be selected by the department for possible participation in the Emory College Honors Program. As determined by the College Honors Committee, a student must have a GPA of 3.5 to be eligible for the program. The department will review the list of eligible majors in the second semester of their junior year and will contact those students considered to be qualified to complete an honor's project in Anthropology.

Candidates will pursue research under the direction of a faculty committee, write and defend an honors thesis, enroll in the Honors sequence (495A, 495B), and take a graduate course. Students must also maintain at least a 3.5 overall and major GPA throughout their senior year in order to graduate with honors.

Want to learn more about Honors in Anthropology? Please check out the links below, or contact either the Undergraduate Coordinator Heather Carpenter, or the Anthropology Honors Program Coordinator Dr. Kristin Phillips, for more information. You may alos learn more about Emory Colledge honors requirements on the Emory College Honors Program webpage.

Sample Biological Anthropology Proposal | Sample Cultural Anthropology Proposal |  Anthropology Honors Theses | FAQ

Ready to apply?  Application for Honors in Anthropology (PDF)

 

Anthropology Honors Program Q&A

What are the requirements of the honors program in Anthropology?
How do I apply?
What is the role of the honors advisor? Who can serve as my advisor?
Who can serve on my committee?
What makes a thesis anthropological?
How do I find an advisor?

How do I decide on a topic?
How many pages is an honors thesis?
Who is the Faculty Honors Coordinator and what is her role?
Who is the Staff Honors Coordinator and what is her role?
What is the timeline for the Anthropology Honors Program?

What is the time commitment for honors students?
What does an honors defense look like?
What are the 495A and 495BW classes?
How do credits and grading work for 495A and 495BW?
I plan to graduate in December of my senior year.  Can I still participate in the Honors Program?
I plan to take a fifth year.  Can I do the honors thesis in my fourth year?
I plan to study abroad in fall of my senior year.  Can I still participate in the Honors Program?
What is IRB approval and do I need it?
Can I see a copy of previously written honors theses in Anthropology?

 

What are the requirements of the honors program in Anthropology?

Candidates will pursue research under the direction of a faculty committee, write and defend an honors thesis, enroll in the Honors sequence (495A, 495B), and take a graduate course.  Students must also maintain at least a 3.5 overall and major GPA throughout their senior year in order to graduate with honors.

 

How do I apply?

The application process takes place in spring semester of the junior year.  Invitations to apply to the honors program will be sent out to all eligible Anthropology majors in February, and applications are due in early April.  In order to apply, students must first identify a faculty member who will serve as their honors advisor, and work with that advisor to develop a proposed honors project.  The application consists of a one page description of the proposed project, a cover sheet signed by the prospective honors advisor, and a writing sample.  Completed applications will be reviewed by the honors committee, and decisions communicated via email in late April to early May.

 

What is the role of the honors advisor?  Who can serve as my advisor?

Each honors student works closely throughout the year with his/her advisor to develop the research question, research strategy, literature review, data collection strategies, and, ultimately, the production of your thesis. Close and regular communication between advisor and advisee is critical for the success of your project. Your advisor may be either from inside the department or outside the department, but should be able to direct you in writing an anthropology honors thesis.  More details on advisor and committee requirements is available on the College Honors Program website: http://catalog.college.emory.edu/academic/honors-program/honors-faq.html#faq6.

 

Who can serve on my committee?

Your committee must include at least three “core” Emory University faculty members (Emory faculty outside the College may serve in this capacity, including Oxford College faculty). At least one member must be inside your department, and at least one member must be outside your department. You may have additional committee members, including faculty from other universities, beyond the required three core members. Only core members vote on level of honors. Your advisor counts as one of the three “core” members, and may be any Emory University faculty member (she/ he does not need to be inside your department or faculty in Emory College). More details on advisor and committee requirements is available on the College Honors Program website: http://catalog.college.emory.edu/academic/honors-program/honors-faq.html#faq6.

 

What makes a thesis anthropological?

Anthropologists study all aspects of human life. Our methods and topics are as diverse as humanity itself, but anthropologists are united in a commitment to holistic and empirically-grounded approaches to the human experience. We use ethnographic, computational, digital, archaeological, comparative and experimental research methods to explore a broad range of human conditions, past and present. In recent years, honors students have employed a wide range of methods: including interviews, focus groups, participant-observation, surveys, media/document analysis, mathematical modeling, and statistical analysis. 

 

How do I find an advisor? 

Potential advisors may be faculty you have taken a course with, faculty who do research on a topic you are interested in, or faculty who have a methodological approach that resonates with you.  You can read more details about our faculty research interests on our faculty profile pages (click on their name and then the “research” tab).  Once you find someone you are interested in working with, send them an email.  Have a topic or two in mind that you are thinking about, and start a conversation. It is good to go in with some idea of what you are interested in, but they can help you hone in on a more solid research question.  They may refer you to other faculty and this can be very helpful.

 

How do I decide on a topic?

In considering topics, consider: What question interests me enough to spend a year trying to answer it? What primary sources will I use (and have access to)?  What is feasible?  What is interesting to my potential advisor?  You could start by going back through old essays or research for classes you enjoyed and finding topics in which you want to dive deeper (and then the faculty who taught that course might be a good person to ask to be your advisor).  Keep in mind that many students don’t start out with a clear research project in mind.  You may prefer to start by finding a faculty member you would like to work with as your thesis advisor (see above), and then asking them to help you think through possible project ideas.

Also, it could be helpful to check out this list of honors theses produced in recent years.  Looking at a list of these topics (and the names of the advisors that supervised them) may be helpful in identifying an advisor.  You can also access full text of many past honors theses at https://legacy-etd.library.emory.edu/.   Under “Browse” you can click “Program” > “Emory College” > “Social Sciences” > “Anthropology”.  Another option, instead of browsing by program, is to browse by “Committee Member”, which could be helpful if you have some faculty members in mind that you’d like to work with.

 

How many pages is an honors thesis?

This should be worked out with your advisor, but plan for approximately 80-100 pages.

 

Who is the Faculty Honors Coordinator and what is her role?

The Faculty Coordinator of the Honors Program in Anthropology is Dr. Kristin Phillips. Dr. Phillips is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and the Institute of African Studies.  She is a sociocultural anthropologist who studies citizenship, development, and social change in East Africa. Her role is to guide you through the process and structure of the honors program, to help keep you on track with the timing of various components of your thesis, to identify additional resources on campus that can support your research, and to provide a thoughtful space and intellectual community for dialogue about your project and about the process of research.

 

Who is the Staff Honors Coordinator and what is her role?

The Anthropology Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Heather Carpenter, serves as the staff coordinator for the Honors Program in Anthropology.  She is not an anthropologist, but comes from an extensive background in English language and literature.  Her role is to manage the administrative side of the honors program, which includes the application process, enrollment in the honors course, scheduling group meetings and thesis defenses, tracking honors student progress, and communication with applicants, students, and the College Honors office.  Heather is a good first contact for questions about honors program requirements, eligibility, deadlines, or other questions that arise.

 

What is the timeline for the Anthropology Honors Program?

Students apply and are admitted to the Anthropology Honors Program in spring of their junior year.  Some students go ahead and begin research over the summer, although most wait until fall term. Students who plan to conduct any research involving human subjects should work with their faculty advisors to submit an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application over the summer, before beginning research. 

In the fall term of the senior year, students complete the bulk of their research and write the literature review portion of the thesis.  Students are enrolled in ANT 495A, and may enroll in their graduate course in either the fall or spring term.

In the spring term of the senior year, students complete their research and writing by around mid-March, and defend their theses by the end of March / first week in April.  Students are enrolled in ANT 495BW and receive continued writing credit for their thesis work.

 

What is the time commitment for honors students?

The best way to think about the time commitment is to note the number of credit hours received for participating in the honors program. As an honors student, you would take 495A (3 credit hours) in the fall and 495BW (4 credit hours) in the spring. Since 1 credit hour is awarded for 3 hours/week of class time, you can plan to spent approximately 9 hours per week working towards your honors thesis in the fall. The spring course is a writing course and worth 4 credits, so you could be working approximately 12 hours/week on writing and completing your thesis. However, note that theses are defended at the end of March and final submission is in early April, which means that the work in the spring term is frontloaded toward the beginning and middle of the semester.  On the plus side, your thesis will be completely finished weeks before your other finals for the spring term.

The honors “classes” (495A and 495BW) meet about once every 2 weeks to once per month and are designed to facilitate your progress through the honors program (rather than provide extra work), so the time commitment tends to be fluid. The honors program is very self-driven, so you would set the research/writing schedule that works best for you in collaboration with your advisor. With good work ethic and time management, students have successfully balanced the Honors Program with studying for and taking graduate entrance exams, completing graduate school applications, job interviews, and the many other exciting transitions that occur in senior year.  While many students do take relatively full course loads in addition to completing the thesis, it could be a good idea to try to take more of your courses in the fall with a lighter load in the spring if possible.

 

What does an honors defense look like?

You will meet with your committee members at a mutually agreed upon time.  Your advisor will facilitate the meeting.  The defense usually takes 1 hour, though rooms are typically reserved for 1.5 hours.  You should plan to present (with Powerpoint or other visual media) for approximately 15 minutes.  Your committee will then spend the next 20-30 minutes asking you questions (for example, about your findings, your methodological decisions, the limitations of your research, your mode of representing it, etc).  You will then be asked to leave the room and they will discuss the results of your research and determine whether you have passed and the level of honors awarded (Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors). 

 

What are the 495A and 495BW classes?

The honors course sequence is constituted by a series of meetings with the Honors Coordinator and Undergraduate Coordinator and/or with other faculty and staff resources on campus. The purpose of this course is fourfold:

  • To support you in navigating academic and administrative structures, including following departmental and College policies, procedures, and timelines and working effectively with your advisor to complete the thesis;
  • To scaffold the research process in a way that helps you to manage your time over the course of the year;
  • To explore and discuss key components of the thesis process such as conducting a literature review, encountering research dilemmas (ethical, methodological, etc), preparing for the defense, etc.; and
  • To offer you a chance to learn from and support your peers as you share your research and research experiences.

The major assignment for this course is to complete the literature review portion of your thesis prior to finals week of the fall semester.  The faculty honors coordinator will offer you feedback on the writing of this thesis, however you will need to be in close contact with your advisor to determine the structure, content, and style of the literature review.

 

How do credits and grading work for 495A and 495BW?

Both courses count toward your overall degree requirements and toward your GPA.  They may also be counted as electives toward the Anthropology major, within the limit of 2 total directed reading/research courses (which include ANT 397R and 497R).  ANT 495A is a 3 credit course.  ANT 495BW is a 4 credit course and counts for continued writing (WRT) credit.  If you plan to underload in your final semester, you may request less than 4 honors credits.  Your grade in the course reflects your work moving toward completion of the thesis, not the level of honors received on the completed thesis.

 

I plan to graduate in December of my senior year.  Can I still participate in the Honors Program?

Yes, but you need to plan ahead and contact the honors coordinator early in your junior year.  Students must be enrolled in honors for 2 semesters with senior status, so you would begin the program in January of the year you plan to graduate. This means you would need to begin the application process no later than September of the year before you plan to graduate, to allow time to find an advisor, develop a project, be admitted to the program, and apply for IRB (if needed for your project) in that fall term so that you can begin research in January.

If you will reach official “senior” status before your next-to-last fall semester, it may also be possible to complete the honors program on the regular fall-spring timeline, one year early (leaving one more fall semester before graduation after completing honors).  This would allow you the benefit of completing the honors thesis along with a cohort of other students.

 

I plan to take a fifth year.  Can I do the honors thesis in my fourth year?

Most likely not.  The College Honors Program sees the honors thesis as being intended for completion in a student’s final year of enrollment, and tends to deny this request.  If you feel that you have a strong case for why you should complete the thesis in your fourth year instead of your fifth, please contact the Honors Coordinator.

 

I plan to study abroad in fall of my senior year.  Can I still participate in the Honors Program?

Yes, though you need to be sure you have a clear plan developed with your advisor in advance, and be in agreement about how and how often you will check in while you are abroad.  You should also discuss your plans with the Honors Coordinator to determine what type of progress you will be expected to make on your thesis while you are abroad (students enrolled in 495A are typically expected to complete the literature review portion of the thesis).

 

What is IRB approval and do I need it? 

If your project involves human subjects, then you will need to obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before beginning your research.  http://www.irb.emory.edu/forms/review/index.html The IRB application process can take a couple of months, so you definitely want to complete it in the summer before you begin your honors project.  Keep in mind that faculty can be more difficult to reach over the summer, so you should talk with your advisor about IRB before the end of the spring term.  Once you are admitted into the honors program, you will receive some resources to help you get started with the IRB process, but your advisor will likely be your best resource.

 

Can I see a copy of previously written honors theses in Anthropology?

Yes!  A list of anthropology honors theses produced in recent years is available on the Anthropology Honors website.  You can also access full text of many past honors theses at https://legacy-etd.library.emory.edu/.   Under “Browse” you can click “Program” > “Emory College” > “Social Sciences” > “Anthropology”.  Another option, instead of browsing by program, is to browse by “Committee Member,” “Author,” or other criteria.