Honors Program

The next application deadline will be January 19, 2024.


Entry Requirements | Course Requirements | Scheduling Classes & Research | Advisor Selection |Honors Project & Thesis | Completion Requirements | More Information

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 builds a community of undergraduate scholars within the Department of Anthropology, providing them with opportunities to work closely with UW professors in independent study and research, and 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.

Entry Requirements

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.

  1. Be a declared major in Anthropology
  2. 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.
  3. Passing grades for a minimum of fifteen credits of UW Anthropology classes.
  4. A passing grade for BIO A 201, or any 200-level ARCHY course, or any 200-level ANTH course.
  5. A cumulative 3.7 GPA in anthropology courses taken at UW.
  6. A cumulative 3.3 GPA for classes taken at UW.
  7. Have met with a potential faculty adviser to support your application to the Honors Program.

If you're all ready to go, here's how to apply:

  1. Download and fill out the UW Anthropology Honors Program Application Cover Sheet (PDF) and return it to the Honors Coordinator faculty mailbox in the Anthropology Office by 5 PM on the 3rd Friday of Winter Quarter.
  2. Meet with your adviser to discuss your plans and request a support email. Your adviser will email directly to the Honors Coordinator.

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.

Course Requirements

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. You must take these two classes in person on the UW-Seattle campus. It is not possible to take them remotely, by a course of independent study 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 Honors Research Methods (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.

Scheduling Classes & Research

How should I schedule my Honors classes and research?

You should apply to the honors program in Winter Quarter, applications are due to the honors coordinator's mailbox by the 3rd Friday of Winter quarter. Once you're notified of acceptance, you should immediately register for ANTH 399 in Spring Quarter. This ANTH 399 class is only offered in the Spring Quarter so it is vital that you arrange your schedule to include it. 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 to the normal honors schedule are possible (for example, to incorporate a study-abroad trip into your project) but these must be approved and endorsed in writing by your advisor and permission granted by the Honors Coordinator.

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.

Advisor Selection

How do I select an advisor?

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 Department of Anthropology or on the current list of adjunct, affiliate, emeritus, and retired faculty. This is a strict rule, but you are welcome to seek advice and mentoring from anywhere. For example, you might be interested to work on the project of a senior graduate student who would advise on many details of your project. That would be fine, but you still need a faculty adviser who takes overall responsibility for your project and will sign your documents (ideally your adviser would be the graduate student's adviser also).

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. Because of the diversity of topics, not all faculty may be suitable for your project. When selecting an adviser, you should consider 1) how well you know them, 2) what kinds of experiences you have had working with them in the past (in class, for example), and/or 3) how well their own research/teaching interests line up with your research topic. 

Your adviser wants you to do a great project and is a valuable resource for learning about the research process, so you should not 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.

Honors Project & Thesis

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 write an honors thesis?

You are required to write a thesis documenting your honors research. The final copy must be submitted for your adviser's approval before you graduate. There are two options for the formatting of your thesis. The first option is to format your thesis as a manuscript to be submitted to a suitable peer-reviewed journal. This means you must follow the directions about word length, text size, page layout, tables, figures, etc. provided by the journal. You must discuss with your adviser if this option suits your project and to determine which journal would suit your research. The second option is a double-spaced text, single sided, one inch all-round margins with a 11pt serif font (such as Times New Roman), including page numbers, an abstract and title page including your name and your adviser's name. Page limits and requirements will be worked out in collaboration with the thesis adviser. 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.

Completion Requirements

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:

  1. Complete all course requirements for a bachelor's degree in anthropology.
  2. 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.
  3. Complete ANTH 399 with a grade of 3.3 or better.
  4. Complete ANTH 491 with a pass grade.
  5. Complete at least 9 credits of ANTH/ BIO A/ARCHY 466 Anthropology Honors Thesis (but not more than 18 credits).
  6. Present summaries of your research process in ANTH 491.
  7. 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.

More Information

Who do I speak to for more information?

Please contact anth-undergrad@uw.edu with questions about the Honors Program, directing them to the Honors Coordinator as necessary.