BA in Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of human biological and cultural diversity, seen over time in human evolution, and seen around the globe in the range of cultures and societies as they have themselves changed over time. Our cultural anthropology faculty are at the forefront of research in the study of modern religion, politics, and society; youth culture, food, gender and sexuality; public anthropology, human rights and democracy, and psychological anthropology and morality. Our biological faculty are at the cutting edge of paleoanthropological research on primates and other mammals, evolutionary biology, human and primate reproduction and development, primate sensory evolution, and primate ecology and behavior.

For undergraduates we offer two tracks of study which offer them occupations and opportunities in a number of fields:

  • Our cultural anthropology coursework prepares students for careers in law, business, international relations, development, and related fields.
  • Our biological anthropology coursework prepares students for careers in medicine, health sciences, and development work.

Both courses of study also prepare students for the strongest graduate programs in the field. We also offer a joint major in Anthropology & Religion, as well as minors in Anthropology and Medical Anthropology.

The opportunity to pursue an honors program in anthropology is available to academically qualified students. Study abroad is strongly encouraged.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will develop an appreciation for the diversity of human cultures and the principles and methods that anthropologists employ for studying them.
  2. Students will master the fundamental cultural themes in at least one society other than their own, and the relationship of those themes to the dynamics of social organization.
  3. Students will recognize and be able to describe human linguistic diversity as well as the shared properties of all languages that are associated with the unique capacities of our species.
  4. Students will understand the biological principles and historical contingencies that explain and govern the deep history of humanity as revealed by the findings of paleontology and archaeology.
  5. Students will grasp the fundamental laws and processes of heredity and evolution, and their implications for individuals and populations.
  6. Students with a concentration in social and cultural anthropology will additionally be able to articulate and act on a more focused understanding of one or more topical areas, which may include the cross-cultural study of law, politics, economic systems, psychology, or medical systems. They will demonstrate an ability to relate theory to empirically grounded research that will help to equip them for an era of globalization in which they will need to understand and interact with societies and cultures beyond their own.
  7. Students with a concentration in biological anthropology will additionally be expected to demonstrate a basic theoretical and practical understanding of some aspect of the evolutionary biology, functioning, and pathologies of the human body and of the biological factors that underlie, impact, and constrain nutrition, reproduction, and behavior in humans and other primates.

Degree Requirements

All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Anthropology will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy most BU Hub requirements in Scientific and Social Inquiry and Diversity, Civic Engagement and Global Citizenship, as well as some elements of the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

For freshmen who entered BU before Fall 2018 and for transfer students entering before Fall 2020, see the 2017/2018 archived Bulletin Addendum.

All required courses listed below are 4 credit hours.

Prerequisites

  • CAS AN 101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology or CAS AN 103 Anthropology Through Ethnography
  • CAS AN 102 Human Biology, Behavior, and Evolution

Principal Courses

Four courses beyond the prerequisites, one from each of the following areas:

  • Biological anthropology
  • Linguistics (CAS AN 351, AN 521, or LX 250)
  • Social anthropology (in any topical or theoretical subject)
  • Archaeology (excluding CAS AR 100)

Additional Courses

Social Anthropology Track (six courses)

  • CAS AN 461 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory 1
  • CAS AN 462 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory 2
  • Two social anthropology courses dealing primarily with a geographical region of the world (one may be in archaeology); the two courses need not deal with the same region. Anthropology courses that meet this requirement are indicated by the parenthetical designation “area” following the course title in the Courses section of this Bulletin.
  • Two additional anthropology or archaeology courses (excluding CAS AR 100), including any of the 600-level courses listed in the BU Bulletin website for the Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice program offered by the BU School of Medicine.

Biological Anthropology Track (seven courses)

  • Two 200-level or above courses in biological anthropology or biology, one of which may be SAR HS 369 from Sargent College
  • Two 300-level or above courses in biology
  • Two 400-level or above courses in biological anthropology
  • One additional course in biology (any level), or archaeological science (CAS AR 280, 290, 307, 308, 381, 382)

Honors Program for Anthropology Majors

Social Anthropology

The student should contact the Anthropology Director of Undergraduate Studies if s/he wishes to enter the anthropology honors program. If GPA is between 3.2 and 3.5, the student must formally petition to be accepted. Once accepted, the student is given a contract that includes forms to be signed by a supervising professor as various steps of the program are completed (see below). The student is expected to maintain a GPA of 3.5 to maintain honors status. Here are the next steps (these differ for biological and social anthropology):

Junior Year

Enroll in CAS AN 461 and AN 462 (Ethnographic Theory I and II)

In the spring semester, also enroll in CAS AN 506 Writing for Social Science Research (this will help the student develop a project proposal).

Senior Year

Student undertakes a significant research project under the supervision of a faculty member for either one or two semesters.

Student must develop a 2–3 page proposal and plan of work, attach it to the Honors Research Form (attached to contract) and have the faculty member sign the form. Student returns Form I to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) (or may leave it with the departmental secretary). Student will receive a copy.

Student writes a thesis of 35–40 pages (for a two-semester project) or 25–30 pages (for a one-semester project). The thesis should be of a quality that could be submitted to a refereed journal. The student’s supervisor should sign Form II indicating that his/her thesis has been accepted.

Student defends thesis to a committee of three faculty members, including the supervising professor, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and one other faculty member. This should be arranged by the supervising professor. The committee members should sign the form stating that the defense was successful.

Student submits the completed Form II to the DUS (or departmental secretary).

Student may petition the DUS to change the sequence of these requirements (for instance, if s/he will be studying abroad).

Biological Anthropology

The student should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies if s/he wishes to enter the anthropology honors program. If GPA is between 3.2 and 3.5, student must formally petition to be accepted. Once accepted, the student is given a contract that includes forms to be signed by a supervising professor as various steps of the program are completed (see below). The student is expected to maintain a GPA of 3.5 to maintain honors status. Here are the next steps (these differ for biological and social anthropology):

Junior Year

Enroll in either CAS AN 595 or a 500-level biological anthropology course that has a methods component. The course should be chosen with the approval of the supervising professor.

Senior Year

Student undertakes a significant research project under the supervision of a faculty member for two semesters.

Student must develop a 2–3 page proposal and plan of work, attach it to the Honors Research Form (attached to contract) and have the faculty member sign the form. Student returns Form I to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) (or may leave it with the departmental secretary). Student will receive a copy.

Student writes a thesis of 35–40 pages (for a two-semester project) or 25–30 pages (for a one-semester project). The thesis should be of a quality that could be submitted to a refereed journal. The student’s supervisor should sign Form II indicating that his/her thesis has been accepted.

Student defends thesis to a committee of three faculty members, including the supervising professor and one other faculty member. This should be arranged by the supervising professor. The committee members should sign the form stating that the defense was successful.

Student submits the completed Form II to the DUS (or departmental secretary).

Student may petition the DUS to change the sequence of these requirements (for instance, if s/he will be studying abroad).