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Graduate Student Handbook

NOTE: This document is a general departmental guide and is designed to help graduate students complete degree requirements in two years. Although faculty are available for assistance, students are responsible for knowing what is required of them and for their timely progress through their academic program. The student is encouraged to read and become familiar with the ECU Graduate Catalog and the Graduate School’s website at http://www.ecu.edu/gradschool.

This document is organized according to what graduate students need to know once they are admitted to the program. In order to earn the masters degree within two years, students must:

1) complete the required course work;

2) pass a foreign language course or complete 2 research skill courses;

3) pass the written comprehensive examination;

4) complete a thesis, internship or fulfill the nonthesis requirements.

Graduate Students are expected to pursue their studies energetically and to complete their advanced degree without undue delay. The department regards procrastination in any form unfavorably.

The thesis will be based on independent research as agreed to by the student’s thesis committee and will follow a format that is compatible with the requirements of the Graduate School. The thesis or internship committee must have a minimum of 3 committee members (a chair and two other faculty members from the department who are members of the graduate faculty). Before the research or internship is actually begun, students must present their committee with a written thesis or internship proposal. There is to be an oral defense of the thesis or internship proposal. The Graduate School must also receive a copy of the form called “Pre-Thesis or –Dissertation Research Approval Form.”  This form is not necessary for an internship but an internship agreement form must be signed by all faculty and chairs involved in the internship.



The Graduate Comprehensive Examination in Anthropology is required of all students pursuing the Masters Degree in Anthropology. The exam is in an essay format and administered at the end of the first fall semester following completion of the core courses, ANTH 6101, 6102, 6103.  The faculty teaching the core courses will notify the students as to the time and date of the comprehensive examination. The content of the examination questions will cover the material presented in the core courses and possibly other readings.  An examination grade of High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail is submitted to the student no later than three weeks following the administration of the examination. In the event of failure, the student is allowed to retake the examination the following fall. Failure the second time constitutes termination from the masters degree program.



Students admitted to the masters degree program are eligible for graduate teaching or research assistantship support. Support, awarded for up to two-years, provides contracted payment to students enrolled for 9 hours or three courses per semester for 20 hours of work per week for faculty or the department.  A half time assistantship may also be offered depending on department funds.   Continued support is contingent upon funding from the University, satisfactory work performance, and demonstrated progress towards the degree. Students with full-time assistantship support must complete the required courses on schedule. The Department makes no commitment to assistantship support beyond that contracted on a semester or an annual basis. Generally, support will not be extended beyond two years. Before a student can be assigned full responsibility for an undergraduate course, 18 s.h. of anthropology courses at the 5000 and 6000 level must be completed.

If a faculty member finds the progress of the student to be unsatisfactory, the student may receive a letter outlining the specific work problem(s) and suggesting corrective measures. If the faculty member continues to consider the work to be unsatisfactory, the assistantship may be terminated.

The first priority for graduate students is the timely completion of class and program requirements. Consequently, faculty members may not assign work conflicting with classes or interfering with reasonable preparation for exams or class projects. Beyond this restriction, students are expected to complete the hours of work that have been assigned.  Other time commitments (such as other work) must be communicated to the department’s Director of Graduate Studies prior to the assignment of assistantship support or any time during the contracted assistantship period. Other work commitments shall not interfere with assistantship commitments.


Plagiarism is defined as the presentation of ideas or words of another as one’s own. Because plagiarism is a highly dishonest and unethical act, it will not be tolerated. When writing term papers, the comprehensive exam, and the thesis, all ideas or words of another must be thoroughly referenced.



Students are expected to follow the ethical mandates of their subfield and the principles of ethical scientific conduct. If the student is conducting research involving human subjects, it is the responsibility of the student to follow the guidelines of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The form entitled “Application for Approval of Research involving Human Subjects” can be obtained from the IRB website.   It is to be filled out in consultation with the student’s thesis or internship advisor and submitted to the department chair for their signature. The form is then sent to the IRB.  It may also be necessary to provide for an “Informed Consent” form.  Likewise, research that involves animals needs to be cleared with the Animal Care Committee.  



Students must apply to graduate at least one semester before all requirements for the degree are fulfilled. The necessary forms are available in the Registrar's Office.  Prior to the completion of the forms, the student should make an appointment with the Director of Graduate Studies to insure that all requirements for graduation will be met by the close of the following semester. The thesis or internship report also must be submitted to the chair of the Department of Anthropology for her/his signature. Because the chair may want to read the thesis before signing it, the chair must have the thesis after the committee approves it and at least one week before it is due in the graduate school.



The writing of a thesis or an internship report requires careful planning in order to effectively execute the completion of a final document in a timely and orderly fashion. There are several steps to completing a thesis/internship report that include producing the proposal, carrying out the research or internship, and writing the thesis/internship report.  The thesis is deposited electronically with the graduate school and the department gets a hard copy with binding of either the thesis or internship report.  

Below is outlined a time line for completing your projects.

Fall Semester, First Year.

Pass the core courses ANTH 6101 (Archeology), 6102 (Cultural Anthropology), 6103 (Biological Anthropology) and the comprehensive examination.

Spring Semester, First Year.

Pass ANTH 6104 (Research and Design) and a methods course. Write thesis/internship proposal.


A general description or outline of a thesis/internship proposal:

   Title Page (Name of student, title of thesis/internship, committee members)

   Abstract  1 paragraph

   Statement of the Problem (including relevant theories and background information)  1-2 pages

   Methods (i.e., how will the data be collected and on what population) (library theses are acceptable) 1-2 pages

   Expected Results 1-2 pages

   References (to follow the guidelines of a major journal of the student’s subfield--e.g., American Anthropologist, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, American Antiquity, etc.)

   Budget, if relevant and sources of revenue

Your thesis/internship advisor may ask for a different outline.

The student’s thesis/internship advisor will help the student formulate a set of research plans and assemble these plans into a coherent research plan with attainable goals in which the following traits should be obvious:

 ·   A thesis/internship statement that clearly defines the goal of the thesis.

·   The proposal must indicate that the student has performed sufficient background (i.e., library, etc.) research

·   The research can be carried out and the thesis/internship report written within the 2 year time frame

·   The goals of the thesis/internship are attainable.

When the advisor of your MA project says that the proposal is ready to go to committee members, give the proposal to committee members. Do not give the proposal to committee members until your advisor says that the proposal is ready to be given to committee members. The proposal should be given to committee members no later than two weeks before the desired defense date.

You cannot use any data in your thesis that was collected before your committee approves the proposal.  If you are in cultural anthropology you cannot begin to collect data until you have IRB approval. Likewise, if you are to be engaged in invasive animal research you must have the approval of the animal care committee before you begin your research.

Your proposal must be approved by fall commencement of the first year to allow for data collection over the summer otherwise you must wait until the fall of the second year to defend your proposal and begin collecting data. The students should aim for April 1 as the deadline for your advisor to approve of your proposal and to get the proposal to the student’s committee.

Bring to your proposal defense (thesis) the graduate school pre-thesis data form.  After the defense bring the signed pre-thesis form to the departmental director of graduate studies (currently Dr. Avenarius). This form must be sign by at least the head of your committee.  The departmental director of graduate studies will sign it and send it to the graduate school and place a copy of the form and your proposal in your file.  For the internship your advisor will place a copy of the internship proposal into your file.  Once the site for the internship is agreed upon, the agreement form letter should also be placed in your file.

The copy of the thesis/internship proposal does not have to be a clean perfect copy of the proposal.  A marked up proposal is fine. If the departmental graduate program director is on your committee, his/her copy can go into your file. If he/she is not on your committee, be sure a copy of your proposal goes to the director of the anthropology MA program for placement in your file.

Summer, First Year: Collect your data and finish the library search (if it is not already done).

Fall Semester, Second Year:  Finish collecting data and begin writing.

Spring Semester, Second Year. Finish writing the thesis/internship report.  Once your thesis/internship advisor tells you to distribute your thesis/internship report to your committee, do so.  Give your committee a couple of weeks to read your materials.  Schedule your defense if your committee agrees.  If you want to graduate the end of the spring semester, you must turn in your thesis to the graduate school usually by the middle of April.  However, if you are not ready by the middle of April, have your thesis/internship report defended by Spring commencement and turn in your thesis by the middle of July.  There are no extra fees to turning in the thesis by the middle of July as long as your were enrolled in the previous spring semester.  Students should not plan on a defense during the summer session. However, if your thesis is not turned in until the fall semester of the third year, you will be accessed extra fees. 

The student is then responsible for securing a room for the defense, posting notices of the defense in the department, and preparing 2 copies of the signature page on the appropriate paper and bringing those to the defense.

The Completed Draft of the thesis/internship report: A completed draft is defined as one where the individual chapters have been approved by the advisor in advance, and combined and formatted correctly with a table of contents and references cited section along with copies of all maps and figures labeled correctly. Formatting guidelines are available on the ECU Graduate School web page, but students might also consult copies of previous departmental theses located in the departmental library to get the correct style and format for the signature page.