Graduate Programs


The Anthropology Department offers a rigorous and comprehensive program for graduate students, who examine and experience anthropology through fieldwork, laboratory work, and close study. Our faculty members are experts in the study of many of today’s hot spots like Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, and China. Other areas of faculty expertise—like the effects of religion on politics and society, democratic transitions, urbanism, human/environment interactions, and evolutionary biology—are at the forefront of current trends in anthropology.

Social anthropologists typically measure themselves along two lines: areas of ethnographic expertise and areas of theoretical significance. Ethnographically, the Department has concentrated on developing three overlapping strengths: Africa (Davidson , Ngom, Shipton), Asia (Barfield, Weller, Korom, Korom, Smith-Hefner, Weller, White, Shohet) and the Islamic world (Barfield, Haeri, Hefner, Norton, Smith-Hefner). These specialties mesh with strengths of the entire University. We spread more broadly for theoretical topics, but we have a number of important synergies for which we are known. One is the study of religion in the contemporary world (Haeri, Hefner, Korom, Ngom, Smith-Hefner, Weller). There is, in addition, something of a BU Anthropology school on problems of pluralism and civil society (with recent books by Hefner, Norton, and Weller). Another concentration of energies concerns issues of youth and popular culture (Arkin, Ngom, Shohet, Smith-Hefner, and White).

Boston University has also committed itself to a program of intensive development in biological anthropology, with the goal of producing a world-class center of research and education. Five teaching faculty have been added to the Department’s roster since September 2008. Current faculty projects afford opportunities for student participation in cutting-edge field and laboratory work on both human and non-human primates. Faculty research interests encompass morphology, behavior, endocrinology, and genetics, including laboratory studies of the evolution of primate locomotion (Cartmill) and field and lab work on the behavioral ecology of orangutans (Knott), human vocal and endocrinological maturation (Hodges-Simeon), obesity and metabolism (Schmitt), and genetic evolution of the sense of smell in humans and primates (Garrett).

A new track in anthropological archaeology will be accepting applications this year (2017) for enrollment in the Fall 2018 semester. Major foci in anthropological archaeology include human-environment interactions, urbanism, households, and material culture viewed in deep historical perspective; primary regions of study include Mesoamerica, North America, and the Mediterranean.  Please visit the Archeology Faculty Page to view faculty profiles.


Rob Weller,
Director of Graduate Studies