Seniors majoring in anthropology may apply for the honors program at the beginning of the fall semester (or spring semester for those graduating in January). In addition to securing department approval, the student must have a 3.25 overall grade point average and a 3.60 grade point average in the major. The program involves independent research conducted while enrolled in Anthropology 483, 484. Honors normally will be taken for six to eight credits over two semesters, and the final product will be a thesis of 50 to 70 pages of superior quality. Acceptance in the honors program is probationary for the first semester. The student will present to the department his or her work from the fall semester during the first week of December as a mid-year defense, at which point the department will determine whether or not the student will continue with the thesis project for the spring semester. If the department or the student decides not to continue the project, the fall semester will be recorded as an independent study. If the project is continued for the spring semester, a final oral defense will be held at the end of the second semester usually in conjunction with the Undergraduate Research Symposium. The final copy of the thesis is due to the supervisor and the reader by the last day of classes. The department will copy and bind the thesis, place one copy in the library, and provide three copies to the student.

Application for honors should be initiated in the spring of the junior year; students interested in the honors program are encouraged to consult with a member of the department faculty as early as possible. A formal proposal must be submitted to the department for approval prior to the end of the add period in the first semester of your senior year. This proposal should be 4-5 pages long and should explain the focus of the research you will do, the core questions you are asking, why the topic is anthropologically interesting/relevant, and how you will go about collecting the data you need. In addition, the proposal should include a preliminary bibliography of sources that will contribute to your research. It is a good idea to start working on this proposal before classes begin.

Honors thesis projects can be library or archival research based or they may involve original fieldwork. Students who wish to undertake fieldwork that requires travel (e.g., in January) or who expect to have other research-related expenses can apply for funding from a range of campus sources. In particular, students should note the availability of student research funds (and application deadlines) from the Eitan Shalom Green Research Award in Anthropology, the Goldfarb Center, Career Center, and Dean of Faculty Office (see download link for Student Special Projects). IRB approval may be necessary for some research projects. Check the Colby IRB page for the current version of the Anthropology IRB Questionnaire and related consent forms.

Please note that the honors thesis does not substitute for the senior seminar capstone experience; it is however, a terrific way to deepen your exploration of anthropology and to prepare for future independent research either in graduate studies or in a professional field.