Honors Projects in Sociology and Anthropology

The Department regularly supports student research, with many projects based in Maine:

  • social interactions and behavior at a local skate park and teen center
  • Maine’s traditional boat building community
  • the changing potato industry in Northern Maine
  • educational experiences of 1.5 generation Somali immigrants
  • migrant strategies for navigating the US/Mexico border

Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty members on ongoing research projects, and in some cases, these are paid positions:

  • outpatient hospital care for immigrant and refugee patients
  • depictions of Chinese residents of Hawai’i in tourist magazines
  • terms of mergers and acquisitions involving regional electricity companies
  • volunteer tourism in Cusco, Peru  
  • cataloguing material from excavations at the Joshua Chamberlain Museum and at Stowe House, Maine

Honors Work

Professor Riley and Violent Ranson

If you are considering writing an honors thesis, which is a two-semester project, you should review the Honors Schedule and Standards below.

Both the College and the Department have a number of different funds that support student research projects. For more information about College-wide funds, go to Student Fellowships & Research: Mini Grants. The Department offers both Enrichment Grants and Riley Research Awards for student research. While honors projects are rewarding experiences, they are rigorous, time-consuming endeavors. Many students decide against pursuing this sort of independent work during their senior year, given the prospect of searching for jobs, applying to graduate schools, or simply taking advantage of the many opportunities Bowdoin offers.

General Guidelines

Completing an honors thesis under the guidance of a faculty member in the department offers students a unique opportunity to explore a topic of special interest and to further hone research and writing skills. To earn Honors in Anthropology or Honors in Sociology a student will ordinarily complete a written project (of approximately 75 pages) that is based on independent research and that demonstrates the ability to clearly articulate a research question, critically synthesize and evaluate various theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, sustain an argument with appropriate evidence, understand broader problems within the discipline, and follow scholarly standards of presentation (such as table of contents, proper footnoting and citation). Research projects may be based solely on an analysis and synthesis of secondary sources or may integrate secondary and primary data collection and analysis. Students considering honors work are strongly encouraged to apply for a summer research fellowship prior to their senior year. Honors work requires the student to work creatively and independently. At the same time students should expect to refine goals and revise written text in response to faculty suggestions.

Ordinarily, the student must have earned (and must maintain) a 3.5 GPA or better in the courses taken for the major to be eligible for honors. An honors project will normally involve two semesters of independent study under the direction of a faculty advisor. An honors project will normally involved two semesters of independent study under the direction of a faculty advisor.

Honors Schedule

Writing an honors thesis is a time-intensive endeavor, and students must consider the commitment before attempting such a project. In the fall, Department faculty host an information session to discuss research preparation and scheduling; starting in the spring of junior year, students should begin contacting potential Advisors and finalizing their honors proposals.

A detailed schedule for completion of an honors thesis is available HERE.

The thesis is due in Hawthorne Longfellow library on the Friday one week before graduation. The committee may suggest minor editorial changes no later than one week before the thesis is due in the library. H-L Library distributes guidelines for format, title page, and deadlines for submission of the final version through its website at Honors Guidelines & Tips. The Department requests a paper copy of the completed thesis.

Honors Guidelines »

Recent Honors Theses »

The Department has in place a Human Subjects Research Policy which must be followed when any empirical investigations involving human subjects are taking place.

Human Research Policy Procedures (PDF)