BA in Anthropology—Specialization in Sociocultural Anthropology

Sociocultural anthropology draws from approaches in the humanities and social sciences to examine the nature of society and culture across all human social groups and historical periods. Coursework in the Sociocultural Anthropology specialization allows students to explore an array of topics, including gender, language, health, law, politics, religion, migration, youth culture, psychology, and film. It also introduces students to a variety of world areas, including Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. A specialization in Sociocultural Anthropology prepares students for the strongest graduate programs in the field. It is an excellent foundation for careers that value sensitivity to sociocultural variation, including medicine, law, international development, environmental studies, and others.

Learning Outcomes

Students with a specialization in Sociocultural Anthropology will:

  • Develop an appreciation for the diversity of human cultures and the principles and methods that anthropologists employ for studying them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Grasp the fundamental laws and processes of heredity and evolution, and their implications for individuals and populations
  • 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, migration, psychology, or medicine.
  • 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.

Degree Requirements

All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Anthropology with a Specialization in Sociocultural Anthropology will ordinarily, through their required coursework, satisfy the following BU Hub requirements: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meaning; Global Citizenship; Scientific Inquiry I; Social Inquiry I; Social Inquiry II; Writing Intensive; and Oral and/or Signed Communication, while also satisfying Intellectual Toolkit requirements for Critical Thinking. Other required and breadth courses within the larger major may also satisfy BU Hub requirements in Aesthetic Exploration; Historical Consciousness; Scientific Inquiry II; Quantitative Reasoning I; Quantitative Reasoning II; Individual in Community; Ethical Reasoning; Digital/Multimedia Expression; and Toolkit requirements in Research and Information Literacy; Teamwork/Collaboration; and Creativity/Innovation.

A total of 12 courses, or 48 credits, are required to complete the Sociocultural Anthropology specialization. All courses should be chosen in consultation with an advisor.

All required courses listed below are each four credit hours.

Prerequisites (2 courses)

  • CAS AN 101 Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology or CAS AN 103 Anthropology Through Ethnography (only one of these two courses may be taken for credit in the major)
  • CAS AN 102 Human Biology, Behavior, and Evolution

Principal Courses (4 courses)

Four principal courses are required, one from each of the following areas:

  • One 200-level or above course in Biological Anthropology: CAS AN 233, 234, 263, 330, 331, 333, 335, 336, 337, 339, 534, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 558, 559, 562, 588, 595, 597, 598.
  • One course in Linguistics: CAS AN 351, AN 521, or CAS LX 250
  • One 200-level or above course in Sociocultural Anthropology: CAS AN 210, 211, 220, 240, 243, 252, 260, 285, 290, 302, 305, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 323, 325, 326, 327, 340, 344, 345, 347, 348, 349, 350, 351, 355, 360, 362, 363, 365, 368, 371, 372, 375, 379, 382, 384, 397, 438, 505, 515, 519, 520, 521, 524, 525, 530, 532, 533, 538, 540, 541, 547, 548, 557, 560, 563, 568, 570, 571, 573, 585, 589, 590, 593, 594, 596.
  • One course in Archaeology at any level, excluding CAS AR 100: CAS AR 101, 150, 200, 201, 202, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 215, 221, 222, 230, 232, 240, 250, 251, 261, 262, 270, 273, 280, 283, 290, 305, 307, 322, 323, 330, 331, 332, 337, 338, 341, 342, 343, 346, 347, 348, 353, 365, 370, 371, 372, 375, 390, 393, 396, 410, 430, 435, 438, 450, 480, 500, 503, 505, 506, 507, 511, 513, 516, 518, 528, 531, 532, 534, 535, 551, 556, 570, 577, 580, 590, 593.

Additional Courses (6 courses)

  • CAS AN 461 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory I
  • CAS AN 462 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory II
  • Two Sociocultural Anthropology courses dealing with a geographical region of the world (one may be in Archaeology); the two courses need not deal with the same region. Anthropology and Archaeology courses that meet this requirement are indicated by the parenthetical designation “area” following the course title in the Courses section of the Bulletin and include: CAS AN 285, 307, 309, 310, 312, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 323, 327, 341, 344, 347, 350, 365, 367, 368, 375, 379, 438, 505, 520, 524, 532, 538, 547, 548, 573, 575, 585; CAS AR 201, 209, 210, 221, 222, 230, 232, 240, 250, 251, 261, 262, 270, 273, 283, 322, 323, 330, 331, 332, 337, 338, 341, 342, 343, 346, 347, 348, 353, 365, 370, 371, 372, 390, 438, 511, 513, 528, 531, 532, 534, 535.
  • Two additional Anthropology or Archaeology courses (excluding CAS AR 100): CAS AN 210, 211, 220, 233, 234, 240, 243, 252, 260, 263, 285, 290, 302, 305, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 323, 325, 326, 327, 330, 331, 333, 335, 336, 337, 339, 340, 344, 345, 347, 348, 349, 350, 351, 355, 360, 362, 363, 365, 368, 371, 372, 375, 379, 382, 384, 397, 401, 402, 491, 492, 438, 461, 462, 505, 515, 519, 520, 521, 524, 525, 530, 532, 533, 534, 538, 540, 541, 547, 548, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 558, 559, 560, 563, 568, 570, 571, 573, 585, 588, 589, 590, 593, 594, 595, 596, 597, 598; CAS AR 101, 150, 200, 201, 202, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 215, 221, 222, 230, 232, 240, 250, 251, 261, 262, 270, 273, 280, 283, 290, 305, 307, 322, 323, 330, 331, 332, 337, 338, 341, 342, 343, 346, 347, 348, 353, 365, 370, 371, 372, 375, 390, 393, 396, 410, 430, 435, 438, 450, 480, 500, 503, 505, 506, 507, 511, 513, 516, 518, 528, 531, 532, 534, 535, 551, 556, 570, 577, 580, 590, 593, 595; and any of the 600-level courses in the Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice Program, GMS MS 605, 610, 622, 624, 630, 640, 650, 670, 677, 678, 679, 680.

Note that no more than two courses for the Sociocultural specialization can be taken from outside of CAS Anthropology. Please check with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Anthropology if a course does not appear on this list.

Honors in the Anthropology Major: Sociocultural Anthropology Specialization

Students with a strong academic record (GPA of 3.5 or higher) are encouraged to pursue honors in the major. Eligible and interested students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) and request the required forms. If the student’s GPA is between 3.2 and 3.5, they must request permission from the DUS to be accepted into the program. Accepted honors students must fill out an Honors Contract to be signed by a supervising professor as various steps of the program are completed (see below). Part I of the contract must be submitted to the DUS by the start of the semester in which the student begins honors work. Part II should be submitted after the completion of the thesis. The student is expected to maintain an overall GPA of 3.5 while undertaking honors research.

For sociocultural and anthropology and religion students, the normal progression through the honors process includes the following steps:

Junior Year

The student enrolls in AN 461 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory I and AN 462 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory II.

By the end of their junior year, the student is required to have identified and met with a faculty member who is willing to supervise their proposed research project.

Senior Year

By the beginning of the senior year, the student must develop a 2–3 page proposal and research plan. This plan should be attached to the Honors Contract (Part I) and signed by the supervising faculty member. The student should return these documents to the DUS.

In the senior year, the student enrolls in CAS AN 401 and/or AN 402 (Honors Research in Anthropology) and undertakes a significant research project under the supervision of their research advisor for either one or two semesters. The student is expected to write a thesis of 35–40 pages (for a two-semester project) or 25–30 pages (for a one-semester project). The supervising professor, in consultation with the student, assembles a committee of 1–2 additional faculty members and sets a date for the defense of the thesis, giving committee members sufficient time to read the thesis. The student then defends the thesis before the committee. After a successful defense, the supervising professor will submit Part II of the Honors Contract to the DUS.

The student may petition the DUS to change the sequence of these requirements if necessary (e.g., AN 461 and 462 may be taken during the senior year or AN 401 and/or AN 402 may be taken during the junior year under certain circumstances).

Please visit the Anthropology Department website for additional information regarding undergraduate research in anthropology.