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.

It is a year-long program that may begin in either fall or spring semester of the senior year, usually beginning in the fall semester of senior year.

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 both readers for critical comments and suggestions in a timely manner, and polishing the final thesis by the second or third week of April.

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. To get a sense of what is expected, take a look at undergraduate theses on file in the Anthropology Library (Pathfinder Quick Search. Notes/Table of Contents keyword: senior thesis. Location: ANTH.)


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

• Major GPA must be 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 Method requirement must be completed or in progress, by the semester you submit the thesis application. If in progress, they should be completed before the semester you begin the thesis program.

• A minimum of 8 upper-division units in Anthropology courses taken at UCBerkeley completed at the time of application with no fewer than 8 additional upper-division units in Anthropology courses in progress (to total a minimum of 16 units completed before beginning the thesis).

• Well designed research proposal that has the sponsorship of an Anthropology faculty member.

• No incompletes on record at the time of application and when beginning the thesis. All incomplete grades must be resolved before a student can submit an application for the thesis program. This includes incompletes that have been given an extension of time--work must be finished on all incompletes before a student will be considered/accepted into 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.

Level of Honors

Only work of high caliber will qualify for graduation with Honors on the diploma. The criteria for the determination of the level of Honors are the quality and originality of the thesis, as well as the student's performance in coursework. The Honors categories are Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors. If the thesis is not of the quality expected, a student may receive course credit with a letter grade only.