First, the major is organized as a series of steps:

  • Entry level courses in cultural anthropology and archaeology, followed by
  • core courses in anthropological perspectives and research design, followed by
  • major electives, and culminating in
  • the Capstone Project, based on either student-faculty research or an internship experience, to be workshopped in the Senior Seminar held in the final semester of Senior year.
Special features:
  • Introductions to cultural anthropology and archaeology are foundational courses for the major and the normal entry points to it.
  • Biological anthropology is a 'support' courses for archaeology and cultural anthropology that a major may take at any time before the Senior year.
  • A pair of 'core' courses on anthropological perspectives and research design in the Sophomore year focus on concepts, methods, and theories that anthropologists use to think about human social life and culture. They are called 'core' because the meat of the major begins here, and they are intended to prepare students for…
  • Major electives are the topical courses that reflect faculty research specialties.* We intend to concentrate these in the middle (Sophomore and Junior) years and extending into the Senior year, making that the time that majors get down to cases and explore topical areas and research subjects on which the faculty are expert.
  • Senior options broadly include, as well as a one-semester Senior Seminar on a current research topic, independent work with a faculty member that may be an on-campus project or internship off campus but under faculty supervision. Not everyone needs, or benefits from, the same capstone experiences, so we will offer a range.
  • Senior theses will be optional and may be submitted for 'Honors in Anthropology' upon faculty recommendation.

This scheme concentrates major electives after a pair of core courses on anthropological perspectives and research design, and before Senior options. For planning your schedules, there are several things to keep in mind.

  • ANTH 200 Core Perspectives (Fall semesters) and ANTH 201 Research Design & Conduct (Spring semesters) are prerequisites for beginning Senior Capstone Projects and should be taken in the sophomore year.
    An optional Senior Thesis can be developed either in the new Senior Seminar on a current topic, or as an independent work project with a faculty member, or in an off-campus project or service organization also under faculty supervision.
  • Concentrators should plan their junior year around major electives in anthropology. This means scheduling distribution requirements into other years, and it means that those anticipating a semester or whole junior year abroad will need to work with their advisors to identify courses that serve both major electives and general distribution requirements.
  • By the senior year, you should have finished the majority of required and elective courses for the major, leaving only the senior options in anthropology and general distribution requirements.

Students ask what they can do for Senior Capstone Projects. One option is to critically analyze their experience with an internship, field school, or off-campus service organization. Seniors may also opt to assist a faculty member with their research, or pursue independent research under faculty supervision. The normal product for any of these options is a research paper or, under special circumstances, a formal thesis submitted for Honors in Anthropology. Alternatively, the Capstone Project can take the form of a formal poster or talk to be presented at the annual CUA Research Day. All of these options are designed to provide opportunities for students to put their anthropological education into practice through real-world research and professional conduct.

What if you declare a major after the first semester of your sophomore year? All students must complete ANTH 101-201 before their Senior year, in order to prepare them to work on their Senior Capstone Projects. Sometimes, this can mean taking 201 (Research Methods and Conduct) before 200 (Core Perspectives), and it may complicate plans for a Junior semester abroad. We will work with students to devise appropriate schedules.

What are the advantages of this scheme? It provides a clear progression from introductory courses to completing the major with independent or seminar work, including a focus on core perspectives and methods early enough to make the major electives work for anthropology majors. It places learning how anthropologists think prior to learning what they think about specific topics, on which other disciplines generate other knowledge, and that before doing it yourself. This sequence is intended to prepare majors for moving into producing, and not just consuming, anthropology by their last year as an undergraduate.

There will be additional opportunities as well. We expect to recruit several upperlevel majors each year to work as peer mentors in mid-level courses, including leading discussion sections, where you will have a chance to think productively about anthropology in the context of introducing it to the next cohort of students. We will also look into more serious internship opportunities in service and other organizations for that real-world hands-on experience. And we will work with those who want a semester or year abroad.

The first step will be to assign you to individual faculty advisors who will help you to identify your interests in a way that gets you through the system - not just ours, but also the University's system of distribution requirements, and so on to your next stage, whether that is graduate or professional school, a job or public sector employment. Dr. Samuels will be talking with each of you individually about your options and preferences, and we will do our best to match you with the right faculty advisor.

Admission to the major requires an overall GPA of 2.0; continuation in the major requires a GPA of 3.0 in Anthropology courses.

For students in the Honors Program, courses in the HSSS sequence may be accepted as major electives, and the Department accepts some Politics, Media Studies, and Sociology courses as major electives.


* On-going faculty research specialties are in applied and medical anthropology, immigrants and refugees, globalization, the information society, ancient art & architecture, landscapes and settlements, ancient South America, contemporary Latin America, the Middle East, and the contemporary USA.