Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get advising on my major?

Once you declare your major, you are assigned an advisor. Ideally you should meet with him or her at least once a term (prior to registration) to discuss your plan of study in the major. It is very helpful to meet with the same person each year so he or she gets to know you and can follow your progress. However, you should also feel free to ask for advice from the anthropology professors with whom you are taking classes. If you would like advice on study abroad or on the transfer credit process, you should make an appointment to speak with the DUS (director of undergraduate studies). Note that all professors in the department have office hours when you can stop by to chat. During these times you normally do not have to make an appointment.

Your advisor for the major will also discuss with you your university/distributional requirements, but for specific questions or problems regarding your college or general university degree requirements, you should check with the CAS advising office in CAS Room 105. You should also periodically check your student audit online through the Student Link. If you notice some discrepancy in the computer’s record and your own, you should bring it to the attention of CAS, your advisor, and/or Kathy Kwasnica in the Anthropology Office.

For informal advice, social networking, academic support, and fun(!) consider joining the anthropology student club, Anthropology in the Works.

What strategies should I use in choosing courses for the major?

If you have never taken any anthropology courses before, you might start with a course on a topic that really interests you to see if you like anthropology. Or you might begin with an intro course like 101 or 102 which will give you a broad sweep of the types of issues that are central to the field. AN 101 and 102 are also prerequisites for some other courses.

In general, it is also a good idea to take your two area courses when you see a course listed that interests you. We sometimes face the situation of a senior who cannot schedule an area course in the final semester along with the other requirements needed to finish the major and to graduate. If you wait until your final semester, you may have to take a course in an area of the world that is not of particular interest to you.

Note, however, that you may also take an area course from the Archaeology Department. We accept the areas courses that Archaeology counts as area courses. On Archaeology’s course listings, these courses are noted as “area” (in parentheses after the course number). The courses we designate as area courses are similarly listed in the course book as “area” (in parentheses after the course number). If a course is not listed as “area,” it cannot be counted as an area course, even if you think it looks like one! For example, Muslim Women is not an area course, nor is Professor Barfield’s course on nomads.

Do area courses have to be in the same world area?


I’m a major in sociocultural anthropology; can I use AN 102 to fulfill my natural science divisional requirement?

No, you must take another natural science course outside of your major.

I’m a major in bioAnthropology; can I use AN 101 to fulfill my social science requirement?

No, you must take another social science course outside of your major.

What are the requirements for the minor in anthropology?

The requirements for the minor in anthropology are straightforward. You must take six courses total: AN 101 and AN 102 and four additional courses in anthropology, two of them at the 300 level or above. Note that all courses must be in anthropology.

As an anthropology major, can I participate in a study abroad program?

Yes, the department encourages its majors to go abroad to experience other cultures firsthand. However, anthropology majors should not expect that they will be able to fulfill important course requirements for the major while abroad. This is because most study abroad programs do not offer anthropology courses. (The exceptions are those programs housed in foreign universities.) Courses that most often are accepted as transfers are those that fit into the category of “an additional course” in sociocultural or biological anthropology. This means you should leave those slots open in your program of study if planning to go abroad.

Note that while many study abroad programs require some kind of cultural orientation class, in most cases these courses are general introductions and will not transfer as an anthropology course.

Also note that independent fieldwork/research projects in these programs are rarely structured so as to fulfill anthropology credit.

Choose your study abroad program wisely. You should know that BU-affiliated study abroad programs offer departmentally-approved courses that are applied automatically to your academic record. Courses from non-BU programs, however, must be accepted by specific BU departments for credit before they will appear on your transcript. You must go through the process of matching courses to departments and requesting transfer credit for these courses.

What advice would you give in looking for courses that would be acceptable for transfer credit from an abroad program (or elsewhere)?

We look for courses that have AN, ANTH, or Anthropology as part of their course number listing and/or title, that cover anthropological topics in their course syllabi, and that require anthropology readings. The course you take does not have to match exactly with a course we offer, but it does have to fall within the scope of departmental course offerings. You should keep all course syllabi, course descriptions, and possibly even a final project or report to assist in the evaluation process. Generally, however, if a course is listed as Hist2004, the course description focuses on history, the readings all have history in their titles, and the lectures are on historical topics, you are unlikely to get anthropology credit for the course—even if the title of the course is “A Cultural History of China.”

If I take a course on drumming with an African master drummer while I’m
in Africa, will it count for anthropology credit?

Probably not, unless the course meets the criteria outlined above. Try African Studies or Ethnomusicology.

If I want to go abroad, can I take AN 462 at another university?

If you plan to go abroad, it is important that you factor in taking AN 461 and 462 (the two theory courses for the major) at BU. AN 461 is offered in the fall and AN 462 in the spring each year. We now are encouraging all majors to take AN461 and AN462 in their junior year. This is in response to student feedback that you wanted to learn more anthropology theory early on, so that you could apply it to your final courses. It also sets the stage for the upcoming Anthropology Honors Program.

How do I register from my study abroad program?

You should be alerted via e-mail by the University and/or your study abroad program when registration time is approaching (March and October). It is your responsibility to check out the course offerings online and to contact your advisor by e-mail with a list of the courses you would like to take in the following semester. Your advisor will offer feedback and will forward your name to Kathy Kwasnica in the Anthropology Office. She will then e-mail your PIN number to you so that you can register.

Where can I find an internship in anthropology?

There are a limited number of internships available in sociocultural anthropology because of the nature of the discipline and because much of the work in our department is done abroad and requires foreign language skills. You can, however, approach specific professors you have taken a course with and ask about their on-going projects.

  • Bioanthropologists often conduct lab-based projects and may have internship opportunities. Again, you should talk with professors you have taken a course with and inquire about their ongoing projects.
  • Check with the UROP office on campus.
  • Cultural Survival, a nonprofit research organization based in Cambridge offers some volunteer/internship opportunities, which you can find online.
  • Look for relevant internship experiences in archeology or public health.
  • Check the bulletin board in the Anthropology Department for language/study/volunteer programs abroad.
  • Visit our Internship & Study Opportunities web page.

What can I do with an anthropology degree?

You can check out our Why Major in Anthropology? page to learn about careers you can pursue with an anthropology degree.

Biological anthropologists may want to check out the career link on the American Association of Physical Anthropologists website: