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How to Submit an Honors Thesis Proposal

Please see the Anthropology Major's Handbook or the Senior Capstone Guidelines for Important Deadlines. Your Senior Capstone Proposal will need to meet the following guidelines for review:

  • Introduction 
    • Short statement on the research problem. 
    • Brief statement on previous literature.
    • Theoretical approaches that will be used in the proposal. 
    • Proposed methodological approaches for the investigation. 
    • Overall significance of the research problem. 
  • Describe your research question or research objective 
    • The research question, or objective should be narrowly focused and ask “why,” “how,” or “what” about an issue of significance to anthropology. 
    • Do not present a vast research topic as the object of investigation; instead, develop answerable questions in the context of the larger research topic.
  • How does your research build on existing scholarship in anthropology and related disciplines?
    • It is important to clearly demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of the anthropological literature, as well as other disciplinary literature, relevant to your topic of research. 
    • Be explicit in showing how your research will expand on previous findings. 
    • Provide a clear and comprehensive discussion of the issues and demonstrate how your work fits into current theoretical and methodological debates in the field. 
  • Research design
    • What evidence will you need to collect to answer your research question? How will you go about collecting and analyzing this evidence?
    • You will need to clearly demonstrate that the evidence gathered and the analytical procedures proposed will realistically support the research goals expressed in your research question.
    • A timeline for the Senior Capstone should be submitted. 
    • A feasible research plan with clearly defined procedures is much better than one so broad that it seems impossible to accomplish within the limits of the time available.
  • What contribution does your project make to anthropological theory and to the discipline?
    • A successful application is one that emphasizes the contribution of the proposed research not only to the specific area of research being addressed but also to the broader field of anthropology. 
    • Be explicit about the potential contribution of your research to anthropological knowledge, theory and method in the broadest possible sense.

Proposals will be reviewed and approved by the department as a whole. The department reserves the right to offer suggestions, to request a revised proposal, or to reject proposals that do not meet the high standards of a Senior Capstone. In some cases, the department may recommend a second reader.


The proposal is due by noon on the first Monday of block 8 of your junior year. Please submit a paper copy of your proposal to the Staff Assistant in Barnes 302.