Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of people, both ancient and modern, in their cultural context. The field involves a global look at human cultures from prehistoric times to the present, integrating findings from the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Students of anthropology learn to appreciate the variety of cultures throughout human history and to understand the meaning of human biological and cultural development as well as diversity.

The undergraduate degree in anthropology emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

  • basic methods, concepts, alternative theories and approaches, and modes of explanation appropriate to each of the three main subfields of the discipline (archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology);
  • basic archaeological techniques, including stratigraphy, dating, and inference of human behavior from archaeological data, as well as human history from its beginning through the emergence of complex societies;
  • variation, patterning, and creativity in human communities and symbolic systems, including ecological, social structural, and cultural factors exemplified in a diverse array of the world’s societies, including those undergoing change as a result of globalization and the impact of contemporary social and political movements; and
  • theories of primate and human evolution and the basic data of the hominid fossil record, as well as biological variation in contemporary human populations.

In addition, students completing the degree in anthropology are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • identify trends or patterns in anthropological data from different cultures or periods, identify an appropriate context of explanation or interpretation, and formulate a testable explanation or reasonable interpretation, including the ability to identify data that constitute credible evidence for an explanation or interpretation; and
  • identify and define a significant problem or topic in anthropology and analyze and interpret data in a systematic manner.

Course code for this program is ANTH

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below. (A minimum of 30 credit hours in anthropology, 18 of which must be upper division, is required for the degree.)

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours 

  • ANTH 2010-3 Introduction to Physical Anthropology 1—3
  • ANTH 2100-3 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology—3
  • ANTH 2200-3 Introduction to Archaeology—3
  • One upper-division topical course in cultural anthropology—3
  • One upper-division ethnographic area course in cultural anthropology—3
  • One upper-division course in archaeology—3
  • One upper-division course in physical anthropology—3
  • Electives in anthropology (6 credits must be at the upper-division level; students planning to pursue graduate work in anthropology are advised to take ANTH 4000 and ANTH 4530)—9

Graduating in Four Years

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for more information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in anthropology, students should meet the following requirement:

  • Declare a major in anthropology by the beginning of the second semester.

Graduate Degree Program(s)

Graduate Study in Anthropology

Prerequisites. To be considered for admission as a regular degree student, applicants should have a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 (4.00 = A) or a master of arts degree in anthropology. Graduate Record Examination scores for verbal and quantitative aptitude tests are required. Letters of recommendation and evidence of previous anthropologically oriented experience and work are carefully considered. Students with fewer than 18 credit hours of previous course work in anthropology are considered deficient and may be asked to present a greater number of hours for a degree.

Application. Inquiries concerning applications should be directed to the main departmental office. Completed applications are reviewed once each year and are due by January 15. Students with no previous graduate work should apply for entrance into the MA program which, if successfully completed, will prepare them for the PhD program. Students who have or will have completed an MA degree in anthropology by the time of their admission may apply for direct admission into the PhD program, but they may be required to complete specific remedial requirements in some cases.

Course Requirements. Students may have a primary specialization in any of the major subfields of anthropology: archaeology, cultural, or biological anthropology. The department expects graduate students to maintain a breadth of competence in general anthropology through the master’s degree with specialization intensifying with progress toward the PhD degree. 

All entering graduate students must have had the equivalent of ANTH 4000 or 5000 (Quantitative Methods in Anthropology) or take the course, or in the case of cultural anthropology students an appropriate “tool course,” during their first year in residence.

As partial fulfillment towards a graduate degree, all students must complete the graduate proseminar that covers the three subdisciplines of anthropology (cultural, biological, and archaeology). The proseminar should be taken during the first semester in residence, if possible. In addition, students are required to take one graduate seminar focusing on one of the two subdisciplines outside of their primary specialization.

Other specific course requirements are established through a consultation with an academic advisor. MA students in archaeology and biological anthropology are normally expected to write a thesis (plan I). In consultation with their advisor, students in cultural anthropology have the option of writing a thesis or completing their MA degree by examination only (plan II).

Additional information about other specific areas of specialization and other requirements for the degree may be obtained by writing directly to the Department of Anthropology, and by referencing the Graduate School section. Information is also available at the departmental website (www.colorado.edu/anthropology).

Dual Degree Programs

MBA/MA in Anthropology

The MBA/MA in anthropology dual-degree program enables students to earn an MBA and an MA in anthropology simultaneously over three or four years depending on the student’s subdiscipline in anthropology. Students in this MBA/MA program pursue careers in managing the business aspects of archaeological projects, working in the growing field of corporate cultural anthropology, and ethnography or museum management.

See Dual degrees in School of Business for details.