Honors Program

The Department of Anthropology offers undergraduate students an opportunity to demonstrate their scholarly potential by conducting original research and writing a thesis under the one-on-one guidance of a faculty advisor.
The undergraduate honors program offers excellent preparation for the rigors of graduate study. Undergraduate students majoring in anthropology may qualify for academic honors in their senior year.

Honors thesis

As part of a senior honors project, an anthropology student must conduct independent research, with the guidance of a faculty advisor, and produce a scholarly written paper. This research may involve assimilating new insights from previously published materials, or may involve collecting and analyzing original information, such as ethnographic interviews or data related to primates, genetics, archaeological or osteological remains. The final written document should be more substantial than a term paper for a class. The research is conducted over two or more quarters.

What participating students gain

The Anthropology Honors Program is intended to give highly motivated and dedicated students with 1) an opportunity to engage in original research and analysis; 2) close contact with an individual faculty mentor; and 3) opportunities to develop skills in the writing and oral presentation of anthropological ideas and data.
Students are encouraged to present their research at the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Center's annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference, typically held during spring quarter.

Finding a faculty mentor

If you are pursuing an A.B. degree in sociocultural anthropology, contact an S-Wing undergraduate faculty advisor for assistance. If you are pursuing an A.B. or a B.S. degree in evolutionary anthropology contact an E-Wing undergraduate faculty advisor for assistance. These advisors will help guide you to the most appropriate faculty member to advise your proposed thesis. You also can speak with faculty members who have taught courses that you found particularly interesting.
A faculty mentor who accepts a student for ANT 194H (Special Study for Honors Students) will have the responsibility of guiding the student in his or her research and writing of a senior thesis on an original laboratory, field, or literature research project (e.g., ethnographic interview, primate observation, DNA sequencing, artifact analysis).

Eligibility requirements

To qualify for participation in the Department of Anthropology's honors program, a student must:
  • complete 135 units by the end of junior year
  • hold a 3.50 major GPA in anthropology at the beginning of Fall 2017
  • enroll in and complete at least six units of ANT 194H, taken over a minimum of two quarters, under the direct mentorship of a faculty member


Levels of honors awarded

Honors are awarded at three levels: Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors. In order to qualify for graduation with "honors," a student must meet the appropriate grade-point requirement for all UC courses completed. The Office of the University Registrar and the College of Letters
and Science make that determination.
Students who meet the grade-point requirement for graduation with honors, and who complete the Honors Program, may be recommended by their departments for graduation with high honors or highest honors. An honors thesis will be reviewed and an assessment made by the student's faculty mentor, often in consultation with another faculty member. The quality of the honors thesis work will be the primary determinant for designating high or highest honors at graduation.

Apply to the Honors Program

 Please go to this link to access the application! 

Examples of honors thesis topics

  • “Wood vs. Stone Mortar Technologies: An Experimental Approach to Food Grinding Efficiency.” Christina M. Murray (Jelmer Eerkens, faculty mentor).
  • “Cultural Competence, Translation, and Subjectivity in Clinical Practice.” Mar-y-sol Pasquiers (Cristiana Giordano, faculty mentor).
  • “Quantitative Approaches for Identifying Archaeological Site Occupation Types: A Case Study From Late Holocene, Mendocino County, CA.” Samuel J. Williams (Teresa Steele, faculty mentor).
  • “Origins of Coiled Basketry in California.” Gregory Wada (Robert Bettinger, faculty mentor).
  • "Faunal Analysis of a Northwest Alaska Inupiat House.” Katheryn A. Hill (Christyann Darwent, faculty mentor).
  • “Sex and Birth Order Predict Infant Growth and Survival: Consequences of Differential Maternal Investment in Macacca mulatta.” Chase Nuñez (Katie Hinde and Lynne Isbell, faculty mentors).
  • “Bitch: An Anthropological Study of Femininity and Power.” Nicole A. Sears (Janet Shibamoto-Smith, faculty mentor).