Frequently Asked Questions about the UW Anthropology Honors program
What is the UW Anthropology Honors Program? The Honors Program in the Department of Anthropology is open to students with an exceptional academic record and allows undergraduates to pursue special research interests. Honors students design, conduct and report on an original research project under the guidance of a faculty adviser. The program provides excellent preparation for graduate school. The Honors Program is designed to expand and intensify academic experiences in Anthropology. Students who complete the Honors Program, including coursework and an honors thesis, graduate "With Distinction in Anthropology," which is noted on their transcripts and diplomas.
How do I get into the UW Anthropology Honors Program?
Here is a list of the requirements for entry to the program. To protect and maintain the integrity of the program we are quite strict about these requirements.
- Be a declared Major in Anthropology
- A minimum of two quarters of prior study at UW prior to applying to the honors program, but this requirement may be waived for transfer students with the approval of their prospective honors adviser
- Passing grades for a minimum of fifteen credits of UW Anthropology classes.
- A passing grade for BIO A 201 or ARCHY 205, or any 200-level ANTH course.
- A cumulative 3.7 GPA in anthropology courses taken at UW.
- A cumulative 3.3 GPA for classes taken at UW.
- Have met with a potential faculty adviser to support your application to the Honors Program
- Submit this application form by 1 Feb.
Admission to the Anthropology Honors Program is competitive; fulfillment of minimum eligibility requirements, or membership in the College Honors program, does not guarantee admission. All students hoping to enter the Anthropology Honors Program (including College Honors students) must apply during the first three weeks of Winter Quarter for the following academic year. We accept the top-ranked fifteen students each year.
If you're all ready to go, dowload and fill out the UW Anthropology Honors Program Application Form and return it to Diane Guerra (Denny Hall 247) by February 1st. If you have not met the requirements before the end of winter quarter that you make your application, we may admit you provisionally and then reassess your application when your winter grades become available.
What special classes do I need to take in the Honors Program?
There are two special Honors classes, ANTH 399, which is the class you start your Honors work in, and ANTH 491, which is the class you finish it in. Both of these are offered each Spring. We very strongly encourage any student interested in Honors research or admitted to the Honors Program to take an appropriate methods class for their project. This class may be inside or outside of the Anthropology Department. Where possible we encourage students to take a class offered by or independent study with their adviser before the spring in which they will take the ANTH 399 Honors Proposal Writing class to develop their research project ideas and start your literature review of their topic. You must take ANTH 399 and 491 in person on the UW-Seattle campus. It is not possible to take them remotely, by a course of independent stufy or substitute them with other classes. They are offered every Spring Quarter, and only in Spring Quarter. If your project involves overseas travel, you should plan carefully to be on campus for these classes. Here are the details of these two classes:
ANTH 399 Junior Honors Seminar (5 credits, Numerical grade)
This course is a seminar offered every spring quarter for students beginning the Honors Program. This seminar is designed to teach students the skills necessary to produce a research proposal for an undergraduate honors thesis in anthropology. Students are introduced to widely used methods of data collection. In addition, they define a research problem, complete a literature review, and, with the guidance of a faculty thesis adviser, complete a proposal for feasible, theoretically focused thesis project. Students will hear guest presentations from honors students completing their projects to get direct insights into the research process. Enrollment is restricted to students accepted in the Anthropology Honors Program. A grade of 3.3 or higher for this class is required to continue in the Honors Program.
ANTH 491 Honors Colloquium (2 credits, Credit/No Credit)
Honors students are required to enroll in spring quarter of their senior year. Honors students completing their theses present the results of their research for one another, as well as students entering the honors program and currently enrolled in ANTH 399. This class is run concurrently with ANTH 399. Students registered for 491 make a series of presentations to the class throughout the quarter to share their experiences of the research process with the 399 students who are just starting their project. The number, schedule and other requirements of the presentations is determined by the 399/491 instructor. The grading for 491 is simply credit or no credit.
How should I schedule my Honors classes and research?
You should apply to the honors program in Winter Quarter (applications are due to the undergraduate advisor by 1 Feb). In the spring quarter you should enter the Honors program by taking ANTH 399. You should aim to complete your work and submit your thesis at the end of the following spring quarter, so that the whole project takes twelve months. Extensions or deviations to this plan are generally not possible, you should discuss this with your adviser, the Honors Coordinator and the Undergraduate Adviser.
How do I decide what to do my Honors project on?
This can be a challenging decision! Some students register for honors knowing exactly what they want to do, but most have just a general idea that they're interested in researching something anthropological. You may need to brainstorm a few possible topics before registering. Some of the best past honors projects have been on anthropological topics connected to the students' personal lives, so ask yourself what's interesting and important about your life that could also be an interesting anthropological topic. You must also reflect on the topics you've covered in your college classes and see what you find stimulating enough to work on for a year-long project. Before registering, you should consult with your potential faculty adviser to narrow down your possible projects to the most suitable one. The ANTH 399 class helps you work that topic into a formal research proposal, but you need to have a strong sense of your project before beginning this class.
How do I select an adviser?
There is one firm rule that governs who may advise Anthropology Honors projects. The first is that the adviser must be on the current list of Full-time and Research Faculty in the UW Anthropology Department or on the current list of Adjunct, Affiliate, Emeritus, and Retired Faculty. This is a strict rule, but you are welcome and encouraged to seek advice and mentoring from anywhere. Our general advice is that you talk to a few different faculty before you choose an adviser to get a sense of their enthusiasm for your interests and how useful their advice will be to you. Scan the faculty list on the Anthropology web page, ask for recommendations from faculty that you’ve taken classes with and talk to other students to find out who has a good reputation for working with honors students. Your adviser wants you to do a great project and is a valuable resource for learning about the research process, so you shouldn't hesitate to ask them ‘how can I do this better?’ and ‘am I making the best use of my time?’ Similarly, you should be receptive to their advice and responses to your questions. The student-adviser relationship is not without personal dimensions and a good working relationship with your adviser can avoid a lot of difficulties and uncertainty. It's worth noting that your adviser is also the person who grades your final thesis.
How do I approach my adviser to request their support for my project?
Prepare a short paragraph that summarizes what you want to do your honors project on. In this paragraph you should (1) state clearly what you want to do, what topic you want to investigate and question you want to answer, (2) explain briefly why this topic is important to know more about, identify who will benefit from your research and how and (3) briefly state the main methods you plan to use to accomplish your project. You’ll need to do a bit of reading to put this paragraph together and you include below your paragraph a list of ten or so of the most relevant and useful sources since you’ll probably be going back to them. Once you’ve got that paragraph done, arrange to meet your prospective adviser in person, take a hard copy to the faculty person you want to be your adviser, explain to them your intentions and ask if they would be interested to advise your honors research. They’ll be so impressed with the preparatory work you’ve done that it will be very difficult for them to refuse (provided they’re not going on sabbatical/overseas/etc.)!
How do I register to do the research?
When you do research for your Honors thesis you need to be enrolled in ANTH/BIO A/ARCHY 466 Anthropology Honors Thesis. You must complete ANTH 399 with a grade of 3.3 or higher before you are eligible to register for ANTH/BIO A/ARCHY 466. This course provides credit for students completing thesis research and writing. You can enroll for between one and nine credits per quarter, and you need a minimum of nine credits to complete the program. You may not take more than 18 credits of this class. You must talk with your adviser before registering for two reasons. First, you need to present to your adviser your schedule of research and discuss how you'll distribute your credits appropriately over the year of your project. For example, if your project requires fieldwork then you might take a relatively high number of 466 credits for the quarter when you do the fieldwork to reflect your time invested on the project during that time. The second reason for talking with your adviser each time your register for 466 credits is that you'll need your adviser's registration code to register for 466 credits. If your adviser knows how many credits you're taking with them before you start the quarter then they can plan their quarter to give you to the time you need to meet with you and advise on your work.
How many credits of research can I take each quarter?
This is between you and your adviser. To graduate from the honors program you need between nine and 18 credits of ANTH/ARCHY/BIOA 466, so one way to do it would be five credits each in Summer, Winter and maybe a few more in the Spring. If you’re doing fieldwork over the summer you might take six to ten credits to reflect your more intensive work on the project (remembering that one credit is equivalent to about 2-3 hours of work per week). The main thing is that you discuss it with your adviser to ensure that they’re available to support you when you need it. .
How long should an honors thesis be?
Aim for 30-60 pages of double-spaced text set in 12-point Times New Roman with one a one inch all round margin. Include page numbers, an abstract and title page including your name and your adviser's name. If your adviser gives you different instructions, follow those because your adviser is also your grader. If you need a more exact length, your adviser is the one who can specify, since projects may have different requirements for how much detail needs to be included in the thesis (for example, a bioanthopological thesis might be shorter than a socio-cultural thesis, just because of conventions of scholarly writing in those two sub-disciplines). You may want to publish the results of your project after you finish, so it’s important to follow the scholarly writing conventions of your discipline as closely as possible for the thesis so it’s easy to prepare a journal article from your thesis.
Chapman (1988) enumerates a number of ‘immobilizing shoulds’ that can make you feel so guilty and unworthy that you stop making progress. Telling yourself that you *should* have a great topic, that you *should* finish in x years, that you *should* work 4, or 8, or 12 hours a day isn't helpful for most people. Be realistic about what you can accomplish, and try to concentrate on giving yourself positive feedback for tasks you do complete, instead of negative feedback for those you don't. Setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals is a good idea, and works even better if you use a buddy system where you and another student meet at regular intervals to review your progress. Try to find people to work with: doing research is much easier if you have someone to bounce ideas off of and to give you feedback.
Breaking down any project into smaller pieces is always a good tactic when things seem unmanageable.. Instead of writing an entire thesis, focus on the goal of writing a chapter, section, or outline. Identify tasks that you can do in an hour or less; then you can come up with a realistic daily schedule. If you have doubts, don't let them stop you from accomplishing something -- take it one day at a time. Remember, every task you complete gets you closer to finishing.
How do I stay motivated?
At times, particularly in the middle of the project, it can be very hard to maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated. Many honors students suffer from insecurity, anxiety, and even boredom. First of all, realize that these are normal feelings. Try to find a sympathetic ear -- another student, your advisor, or a friend outside of school. Next, try to identify why you're having trouble and identify concrete steps that you can take to improve the situation. To stay focused and motivated, it often helps to have organized activities to force you to manage your time and to do something every day. Setting up regular meetings with your advisor, attending seminars, or even extracurricular activities such as sports or music can help you to maintain a regular schedule.
What does my advisor expect from me?
This is the official UW Anthropology Department document to assist honors students in getting the most from their advisor. An advisor’s relationship with his or her advisee seeks to create and nurture interactions that are supportive, constructive and helpful. The nature of this relationship can be formal or informal, and usually develops as a student progresses through the program. The following are key expectations anthropology faculty advisors have for their advisees.
A review of recent top-ranked theses shows that the abstract should be 0.5-1 page, the introduction should be 3-4 pages, the background section should be 5-6 pages, the methods should be 4-5 pages, the results should be 5-10 pages, the discussion should be 4-5 pages and the conclusion and implications should be 2-3 pages. In general, aim to write your thesis in the least amount of words to get the job done. It will be a lot easier for you, and your adviser will love you for it (since they have to read it several times). There are many excellent resources to help you with the details of thesis-writing, one of our favorites is 'How to Write a Better Thesis' by David Evans and Paul Gruba, and your adviser will be able to suggest more.
Do I need human subjects approval? Probably not. Many projects are done as part of larger projects run by faculty where the faculty person has already obtained relevant approvals so you don’t have to. Also, most honors projects are at a scale and intensity so that there are very few risks posed to human subjects. Since each project is a bit different, the best people to ask are your adviser (who will know what normally needs approval in your field, and what doesn’t) and the staff at the UW Institutional Review Board, who deal with all anthropology projects needing approval and will also have a very good idea of whether your project needs to go through the approval process. You definitely do need human subjects approval if you plan to publish results from your project or use them for a later project (like your Masters or PhD work).
Stay in contact with your advisor
- At the beginning of each quarter contact your advisor by email, phone or in person (this is best). If possible, make an appointment to discuss your plan of action for the quarter. To make the meeting most productive, bring a prioritized list of the things you would like to discuss (it may even be a good idea to email this to your advisor beforehand). You might also want to take notes during the meeting and keep a folder with your notes for future reference.
- Follow up during the quarter as needed.
- When you’re in the field, and as technology allows, send emails to your advisor letting her know how your research is progressing.
- Be clear about your own expectations for your advisor. Do you need help deciding on a research topic? Would you like him to facilitate introductions to other researchers or graduate students? Are you someone who likes suggestions, or do you prefer to figure things out on your own?
- When asking for letters of recommendation, make sure you are clear about when a response is due and how your advisor should submit the letter. Should it be mailed? Emailed? Or put in your box so you can mail everything together? Also, as the due date approaches send a friendly reminder to your advisor.
Be proactive about working towards your degree
- Take the initiative to learn about your program’s requirements and then talk to your advisor about these. Although your advisor is there to help guide you through this process, it is ultimately up to you to decide how you should proceed through the program.
- Consider acquiring relevant supplemental skills, such as research methods, language skills, statistics and modeling, policy training, etc. This should be done in consultation with your advisor.
- Bring potential problems to your advisor’s attention before or as soon as they arise, so she will be able to help you respond in a non-crisis mode.
- Consult with your advisor in advance about the timing of major milestones, such as grant proposals, exams, dissertation chapters, etc.
- When asking for letters of recommendation, give your advisor the materials he will need. For example: a description of the program or fellowship to which you are applying; your statement of purpose; your CV or résumé; your transcript; brief summaries of papers and final projects and grades received; an addressed envelope with due date attached or other information about how you will pick up the recommendation; and your contact information.
- Inform yourself about the IRB process from the HSR committee and allow adequate time to prepare applications for IRB approval.
- In consultation with your advisor, and when appropriate, demonstrate your competency by presenting your research at meetings, conferences or university forums and by publishing your work.
- As you get closer to applying for jobs, talk with your advisor about your options, the application process, etc.
- Change your advisors and/or committee members if necessary (you are not penalized for doing so).
Establish a respectful relationship with your advisor
- Understand that your advisor has many commitments, some of which may impact the time and attention she is able to give you. Be understanding when your advisor isn’t able to respond immediately to emails or phone calls.
- Minimize interruptions such as cell phone calls when meeting with your advisor.
- Respect the time framework your advisor gives you. If he tells you he needs a month to review funding applications, dissertation chapters, articles for publication, etc., you should give him copies a month before you need feedback.
- Remember to let your advisor know the outcome of your funding applications, conference presentations, publication submissions, job applications, etc.
- Receive criticism in a professional manner. Be willing to consider your advisor’s point of view even if it differs from your own.
What are all the requirements for completing the UW Anthropology Honors Program?
Here is a summary of the requirements you need to fulfill to complete the program
- Complete all course requirements for the B.A. degree in anthropology
- Complete at least 20 credits of UW anthropology courses at the 300-level or above, of which at least 10 credits must be at the 400-level. Note: Credits accumulated in Honors courses (ANTH 491, ANTH 399, ANTH/ BIO A/ ARCHY 466) do not count towards this requirement.
- Complete ANTH 399 with a grade of 3.3 or better.
- Complete ANTH 491 with a pass grade.
- Complete at least 9 credits of ANTH/ BIO A/ARCHY 466 Anthropology Honors Thesis (but not more than 18 credits).
- Present summaries of your research process in ANTH 491.
- Maintain at least a cumulative UW 3.3 GPA, and a 3.7 GPA for all UW courses taken in or outside the Department of Anthropology as part of the requirements of the anthropology major.
Who do I speak to for more information?
Diane Guerra (Denny Hall 247, firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Director of Student Services and can help you with your questions about the Honors Program.