Senior Honor Thesis


Senior Honors Thesis

The Anthropology Honors Thesis program provides outstanding seniors the opportunity to conduct
original scholarly research under the mentorship of an anthropology faculty member, to write an honors
thesis, and ultimately to graduate with departmental honors.

Students interested in the honors thesis program should plan to take a section of Anthropology 196, the
upper-division Undergraduate Seminar, the semester before they intend to begin the two-semester senior thesis program. The departmental decision on admission to the senior thesis program will include
consultation with the faculty instructor for this course.

The senior thesis requires two semesters that may begin in either fall or spring semester when the student has senior status. Normally, it is completed in a fall-spring sequence of semesters.

Registration in the two semester course Anthro H195 with the thesis advisor is required; a final grade for
the course is awarded after the completion of Anthro H195B. The first semester is spent in the
formulation of the topic, theoretical/literary exploration and research, methodological development,
primary data collection/research/analysis, and beginning to write; the second semester is spent writing the thesis, submitting drafts to two readers for critical comments and suggestions in a timely manner, and polishing the final thesis.

Although there is no specific length requirement, a typical undergraduate Honors Thesis contains 50-100

pages of text, along with a bibliography, and often includes illustrations and tables.


• Overall UC GPA 3.5 or higher at the time of application and when beginning the thesis.

• Major GPA 3.6 or higher at the time of application and when beginning the thesis.
  NOTE: The major GPA is based solely on courses completed at Berkeley.
•Anthropology 114 and the Methods requirement must be completed or in progress by the semester of
application to the thesis program. If either or both courses are in progress at the time of application, they
should be completed before the first semester of the thesis program (before enrolling in Anthro H195A).
• A minimum of 8 upper-division units in Anthropology courses taken at UC Berkeley must have been
completed at the time of application, with no fewer than 8 additional upper-division units in
Anthropology courses in progress, for a total of at least 16 units in Anthropology at UC Berkeley
completed before beginning the thesis (before enrolling in Anthro H195A).
• No incompletes should be on record at the time of application or when beginning the thesis. All
incomplete grades must be resolved before a student can submit an application for the thesis program.

Getting Started

Your first priority is settling on a general topic and a particular faculty advisor. If you are unsure which faculty member in the Anthropology Department might best help you, consult with the undergraduate advisor in 215 Anthropology and Art Practice Building (Formerly Known As Kroeber Hall). Prepare a brief thesis proposal--a statement of the research question and your plan of action including a discussion of the research methods you will employ. Visit your prospective thesis advisor with your proposal in hand and ask if they are able to sponsor you. If the response is "yes," then the subsequent process is largely up to you and your thesis advisor. If the answer is "no" (the faculty member may be on leave the coming year, unable to commit the time that you and your project merit, etc.), meet with additional faculty until you find sponsorship.

In addition to the sponsorship of an Anthropology professor as thesis advisor, the honors program requires you to have a second faculty sponsor, commonly referred to as the second reader. The second reader is only required to read and comment on a near-final version of the thesis, but may choose to play a greater role. In unique circumstances, the second reader may be a professor from another department, if approved by the Anthropology thesis advisor. Discuss with your thesis advisor who would make a good reader for your project, and arrange to meet with a prospective reader(s). If they agree to work with you as your Thesis Advisor, you are ready to complete the thesis process. Ask your main Faculty Advisor to email the Anthropology Undergrad Advisor, (me :), to request your enrollment into the Prof's H195A, during the enrollment phase. Although it is helpful to secure both thesis readers at the start of the process, the second reader is sometimes identified within the first or beginning of the second semester of the Thesis program. But remember to always consult with your Main Faculty Advisor on the who to approach for the Second Reader position.

NOTE: It is recommended that the student find out early that both readers agree on the same research methodology and range of required readings, that the project is not too large to be completed in two semesters, and that both readers be available (not on sabbatical or leave) for both semesters.

Once you obtain sponsorship from an Anthropology faculty member and second reader, have your main Advisor email the Undergrad Advisor to request enrollment. And please remember to request enrollment from the undergraduate advisor at the start of the second semester for enrollment into H195B, the second semester of the Thesis program. The honor coursework, (H195A & H195B) may count as 2 of the 5 Anthropology elective requirements for the major.

NOTE: Anthropology H195A and H195B are independent study courses; there is no instruction or class time involved. All the work for the thesis and these 2 courses is done independently.

Application Timeline

• Best timing is February of Junior Year (Fall/Spring thesis); September of Junior/Senior Year (Spring/Fall thesis): Prepare a brief thesis proposal and meet with the prospective thesis advisor(s). Get the consent of a faculty member of the Anthropology Department to serve as your sponsor.  Discuss the project, appropriate methodology and research methods, and preparation of sample bibliography with the faculty sponsor.

• A request from your Faculty Advisor to the Undergraduate Advisor initiates the enrollment process to begin the Thesis.

Applying for the Senior Honors Program

Students apply in the semester before they want to begin the senior honors program by taking the
following steps:

(1) complete prerequisites:

  • complete at least 8 units of Anthropology courses and be enrolled in at least 8 more units successfully
  • complete a section of Anth 196
  • complete Anth 114 and the Methods requirement or be enrolled in them when applying

(2) assemble a thesis committee:

  • identify a faculty advisor who agrees to supervise Anth H195A and H195B
  • present a thesis proposal, in writing, to the proposed faculty advisor for approval
  • identify a second faculty reader, in consultation with the faculty advisor

            The second reader may be a professor from another department, if approved by the Anthropology
            thesis advisor.

The faculty advisor confirms the proposal is acceptable by sending email to the Undergraduate Major
Advisor approving enrollment in Anth H195A for the following semester. This step is required.

The Undergraduate Major Advisor confirms that course requirements have been met, and if they have,
enrolls the student in the first semester of the two semester course Anthro H195. The student must request enrollment in H195B by the Undergraduate Major Advisor at the start of the second semester of the program.

Level of Honors and grade for the honors course sequence

Anth H195A is the first half of a single, two semester course. It is graded IP (in progress). A final grade
for the two semesters, which count as 2 of the elective courses for the major, is assigned at the end of
Anth H195B.

Level of honors is assessed separately from the grade for the two semester honors course sequence. Level of honors is based on the review of the final written thesis by the two readers. The Honors categories are Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors.

If the thesis is not of the quality required for honors, a student may receive course credit with a letter grade only.