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Honors Program


The Honors Program in Anthropology allows exceptional undergraduate students to undertake independent research on a topic in consultation with faculty members. This program is open to all Anthropology majors with junior standing who have a 3.3 GPA in all general University courses and Anthropology courses, and who are approved for acceptance into the Honors Program by the Departmental faculty. Completion of the program requires:

  1. 3 credit hours in Anth 3890 (Honors Thesis Research), evaluated by professor for that course; and 1 to 2 credit hours in ANTH 4998 (Honors Research, select the section under your adviser’s name), evaluated by the Honors Thesis Adviser.
  2. 4 to 5 credit hours in ANTH 4999 (Honors Thesis), evaluated by Honors Thesis Adviser.
  3. Submission of a written thesis, evaluated by the student's Honors Committee.
  4. Oral presentation of the thesis (15-20 mins.), evaluated by the student's Honors Committee.
  5. Oral examination (defense) of the thesis, administered by the student's Honors Committee.

(The honors thesis hours are expected to be in excess of the 30 hours required for the Major in Anthropology.)

Students meeting these requirements receive Honors or High Honors in Anthropology, depending on the quality of their thesis, grades in anthropology courses, and examination results. Successful Departmental Honors students will receive a Vanderbilt diploma that records Honors or High Honors in Anthropology.

Application to the program

The first step is the formulation of a thesis topic in consultation with an appropriate faculty member within the Department of Anthropology who will serve as Honors Thesis Adviser. In consultation with the Adviser, the student should write a 4-5 page (double-spaced) description of the proposed Honors Thesis. It should have at least 12 citations. This description, with the signatures of the student and Adviser, should be submitted to the Director of the Departmental Honors Program. The Director of the Departmental Honors Program will submit the proposal and student's academic file to the Anthropology Departmental Faculty for approval. If the applicant is approved, the student will then be authorized to enroll in Anth 4998 (Honors Research). The proposal is due to the Director of the Honors Program by March 20 of the student's junior year. If the 20th falls on a weekend, it is due on the following Monday.

Formation of the honors committee

Once approved, the next step is the formation of the student's Departmental Honors committee. The committee consists of three to four faculty members selected by the student in consultation with their Faculty Adviser. The Honors Committee includes the Faculty Adviser, the Director of the Department Honors Program, and one additional faculty member from the Department of Anthropology. Students may opt to include an additional faculty member from the Department of Anthropology, a faculty member from another Department at Vanderbilt, or a faculty member from accredited anthropology departments at other colleges and universities outside Vanderbilt University subject to approval by the Director of the Departmental Honors Program. In such cases where three other faculty members serve on the student's Departmental Honors Committee, the Director of the Departmental Honors Program will serve as a non-voting ex officio member. The student must submit the signatures of the student's Honor committee to the Director of the Departmental Honors Program no later than the second week of the first semester of the student's senior year.

Eight to ten hours of independent research

Honors students will complete Anthropology 4998 (Honors Research) and 4999 (Honors Thesis Writing) for a total of 8 to 10 credit hours (4 or 5 hours each semester). These hours will be devoted to the research and preparation of an Honors Thesis and completion of the honors presentation and oral defense. At the end of the fall semester, student work must be approved by the Honors Committee before the student advances in the program. These independent research hours are expected to be in addition to the 30 hours required for the Major in Anthropology.

If a student decides to opt out partway through the Honors Program, they may retroactively convert the ANTH 4998 (Honors Research) credit hours to ANTH 3850 or 3851 (Independent Research), as long as the Advisor and Committee approve this action.

Honors thesis

The Honors Thesis is an original work based upon the results of the student's independent research. The topic and length must be determined on the advice of the student's faculty advisor in consultation with the Director of the Departmental Honors Program. Undergraduate Honors Theses in the Department of Anthropology normally range between 50 and 75 double-spaced pages in length. The entire first draft of the thesis must be completed and turned in to Honors Committee members by March 15. The revised draft is due by April 15. Two copies of the final draft must be bound and deposited with the Anthropology Department Secretary no later than April 27. Failure to meet these deadlines will result in removal of the student from the Departmental Honors Program.

Honors thesis presentation & oral examination

The Honors Thesis is given to the Honors Committee, which appraises the student's written work and determines if the student is ready to give his/her presentation. (The presentation should occur in April.) Immediately following the presentation, the Honors Committee administers an oral examination (i.e, the student defends his/her thesis). The Honor Committee has four options in assessment of student performance. These options include, 1) High Honors, 2) Honors, 3) successful completion of independent research, but no Honors, and 4) no Honors and no credit for independent research.

Current Senior Honors Theses

The Anthropology Department has many seniors completing theses during the 2021-2022 academic year, who can be viewed HERE.