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Senior Capstone Experience

Our Capstone Experience

Develop independent-minded and self-selected research with the guidance of a faculty advisor. 

Learn how Ama folded her experiences as a Starr Center Explore America Summer Intern into an SCE that explores the parallels between the HIV/AIDS epidmic and COVID-19 from an anthropological perspective.

The Process

The Senior Capstone Experience in anthropology is a substantial research and writing project completed at the end of the student’s course of study. Involving active learning and integration of materials within the major, the project centers on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty member in this department.

The SCE may be a thesis or a project. Projects include an oral history, a museum exhibit, an ethnographic film project, or a body of materials to be used in elementary or secondary schools. Each project is accompanied by a written document that discusses how the project was researched and carried out and addresses the importance of the project in terms of anthropological theory. A thesis will have a substantial theoretical focus but also may include any of the project forms.

Interested in learning what our majors go through? Here's a bit more about our assesment standards.


The Senior Thesis of each graduating major will be evaluated for the presence and effectiveness of:

  • Statement of an anthropological research question
  • Identification and explication of a theoretical perspective appropriate to the research question
  • Analysis of relevant disciplinary journal articles
  • Appropriate use of anthropological vocabulary
  • Application of appropriate research and/or analytic techniques
  • Works regularly with advisor
  • Meets deadlines (see Timeline) with acceptable chapters
  • Turns in a complete, well-written, properly formatted document by the last day of class of the spring semester


The “Honors” grade is awarded by vote of  Department faculty.  Honors designation is awarded to exceptional projects:

  • That are worthy of submission to a scholarly journal
  • Whose subject or methods are original and significant
  • Whose conclusions are fully supported and defended against reasonable challenge
  • That are fully grammatical and demonstrates graceful language.

Students who earn honors on their Senior Capstone Experience and a Dean’s List average in their major course work may be eligible for departmental honors, a distinction that is noted both on the student’s permanent record and in the commencement program [Washington College Catalog].


A “Not Passed” grade is awarded by vote of Department faculty.  A grade of “Not Passed” is almost always a consequence of:

  • Student’s failure to work consistently with advisor or to accept advisor’s reasonable guidance
  • Submission of completed thesis after the College’s deadline (see Timeline)
  • Rarely because, despite advisor’s guidance, it fails to meet standards of acceptable writing 

Sample Thesis Timeline

Before Jr. Year

 Explore and Learn

Take advantage of the diverse offering of courses here at Washington College and within the Department of anthropology to explore your interests and find topics/subjects that resonate with you. Many majors find inspiration in there internship work, field work, or coursework in other majors!

Juinor Year

 Hone your ideas

Enrolling in ANT 405 (Juinor Seminar) during the fall of your juinor year will provide an excellent opportunity to turn your anthropological interests into workable project ideas. Towards the end of your juinor year, you will be assigned a thesis advisor and submit a proposal and outline.  

Fall of Senior Year

 Propose & start your thesis

Having spent the summer researching your questions, you will spend the fall working on your final thesis proposal, an annotated bibliography, and yes, the thesis itself! You will work with your peers in the department and the faculty in refining the scope and scale of your thesis, when it is deemed ready, you will start the writing process. 

Spring of Senior Year

 Submit Your Thesis

You will be encouraged to take advantage of winter break to create as much of a working draft on your thesis as possible, using the spring semester to then turn your work from a draft to a polished thesis paper. Seniors who follow all the departmental deadlines and submit a polished, well reasoned paper will be considered for departmental honors come graduation.