UMass Boston

Anthropology Department Graduation Ceremony May 2019.

Department Senior Honors

Senior Honors offers an opportunity for undergraduate seniors in the major to pursue an independent research project under the direction of an Anthropology faculty member. This process provides training beyond what is possible in regular classes for those who want to pursue graduate training or to be ready for designing, implementing, analyzing, and presenting research in their future careers. 

The Anthropology Honors involves an intensive, two-semester program of individual research conducted under the direction of a member of the Department and leading to the presentation of an Honors thesis paper.  Honors research will be graded, and the thesis evaluated for Honors quality by a committee of three faculty members, including the advisor and two others chosen by the advisor in consultation with the student. 


Requirements for Honors Candidacy

Students wishing to be considered as Honors candidates must meet the following qualifications: 

  • Senior status in the semester in which Honors research will begin 
  • At least four courses completed in Anthropology beyond the introductory level
  • 3.5 GPA in the major, and a 3.0 overall GPA
    • Students whose cumulative averages are slightly below these requirements may petition the Department for permission to register for Anth 490 (Independent Research I). By the time of graduation they must have attained a GPA of 3.5 in the major and at least a 3.0 overall GPA to receive Honors.

Admissions and Registration Procedures

  • Students who meet the above requirements and interested in pursuing Department Honors research should secure the sponsorship of a Department faculty member willing to supervise the project. 
    • A suitable faculty supervisor for the project should be someone with interests related to this field or problem. Frequently the final choice of research topic is based on a protracted dialogue between the student and the faculty sponsor. 
  • Deciding on an appropriate topic for an honors project is a complicated matter, and the initial idea may come from work done in a previous course, some personal experience out of the classroom, or from a student’s general interest in a problem or question of anthropological relevance. 
  • A final decision about the research topic should be made before the student begins Anth 490 (Independent Research I), a three-credit course taken with the faculty supervisor, normally in the first semester of the senior year. The thesis advisor and the candidate should then choose the remaining two members of the Honors Committee. 

Continuation of Honors Candidacy at Mid-Year

  • The first semester of Honors course work is focused on completing relevant scholarly research on the thesis topic. Depending on the topic, the student may need to secure access to a collection of artifacts or receive permission to interview people off-campus, and these issues may cause delays that should be anticipated. 
  • Regular meetings with the faculty supervisor, who may wish to see written progress reports, will help ensure that the research stays on-track during the first term.  The second semester of course work is primarily devoted to analysis and writing. 
  • At the end of the first term, the supervisor will consult with the other members of the Honors Committee to determine if the student has made sufficient progress on the thesis project to warrant continuation of Honors candidacy.  
    • If the student is allowed to proceed, a grade of Y will be assigned for Anth 490, and the student will take the second semester of course work, enrolling in Anth 491 (Independent Research II).  If not, a letter grade will be assigned for Anth 490, based on the student's work up to that time.

Completion of the Honors Thesis Paper and Department Honors Determination

  • The second semester of Honors course work is primarily devoted to analysis and writing. Students continuing with Anth 491 are expected to submit their completed Honors papers prior to the end of classes. The Honors Committee will then grade the student's work in Anth 490 and 491 and determine if the submitted paper merits Honors designation. 
    • To receive a grade of A or A-  and the designation of Anthropology Honors on the student’s University transcript and diploma, the final thesis paper should be 40-50 pages in length and demonstrate substantial original research and critical analysis on an anthropological question or problem. 
  • Additionally Honors students are expected to make an oral presentation of their work in a Department colloquium. 

For students who are candidates for University Honors

  • The University Honors Program also requires that students complete a senior thesis.  The two-semester project for Anthropology Honors meets the criteria for the Honors Program as well, but not every University Honors Anthropology major chooses to do Anthropology Department Honors. 
  • Please note that a one-semester independent study course and a literature review paper of approximately 30 pages length may be an appropriate and sufficient senior project for one of our majors to receive University Honors, but to receive Department Honors as well, the student must satisfactorily complete Anth 490/491 as detailed above.