VCU Bulletins

Anthropology, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Christopher Brooks
Professor and Program Coordinator

The Bachelor of Science in Anthropology curriculum seeks to ensure that each student develops a solid foundation in the basic principles, theories and techniques of analysis. Since students majoring in anthropology vary in their interests and career goals, the curriculum allows for a great deal of flexibility developing individual courses of study. Students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in anthropology will usually take more than the minimum number of upper-level courses. The department provides opportunities for involvement in faculty research through its course offerings, which include independent study, internships and honors research.

The Bachelor of Science in Anthropology requires a minimum of 120 credits, with at least 38 of those credits in anthropology averaging a minimum GPA of 2.25. Students must take at least 25 credits in upper-level (300, 400 or 500) ANTH courses. However, a student with a particular anthropological interest that can be best served by courses without the ANTH prefix may suggest a relevant selection of up to 6 elective credits from such classes to be counted toward the major. Alternatively, in addition to the 3 experiential credits fulfilling collateral requirements, a maximum of 6 credits from internships and/or independent studies may be counted toward the elective degree requirements. A plan for such selection must be presented to and approved by the program coordinator in the student's junior year or, for those students entering the program at the junior level, at a time stipulated by the program coordinator.

In order to begin upper-level course work in any foreign language, students must have consecutively completed 101, 102, 201, and 202 or 205 courses in a respective foreign language or prove the equivalent proficiency level through placement testing.

Anthropology majors are strongly encouraged to complete a minor, preferably one offered in World Studies. Students should refer to the listing in the general description of the School of World Studies.

Degree requirements for Anthropology, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Learning outcomes

  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Global knowledge, citizenship and ethics
  • Oral communication skills
  • Scientific literacy
  • Advanced writing skills
  • Conversant with disciplinary tenets
  • Research methods and design skills
  • Experiential learning
  • Advanced language skills

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

The goal of the anthropology program is to impart to our students a global awareness and appreciation of the full range of human biological and cultural diversity across time and space, as well as of the underlying similarities derived from our common evolutionary origins.

Students gain proficiency in the knowledge and application of disciplinary and subdisciplinary research methods and analytic concepts, and are trained to develop a holistic and comparative perspective on the human condition, with regard to the cultural, biological, archaeological and linguistic dimensions of anthropological inquiry.

General Education requirements (32-46 credits) Credits
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I 3
UNIV 112 Focused Inquiry II 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved humanities/fine arts 3
Approved natural/physical sciences 3-4
Approved quantitative literacy 3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences 3-4
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)  
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities 3
Approved H&S general education electives 6-8
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)  
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)  
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)  
Experiential fine arts (course offered by the School of the Arts) 1-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement) 0-8
Collateral requirements (3-6 credits)  
BIOL 101 (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences and H&S science and technology requirements)  
MATH 151 (or higher numbered MATH course) (fulfills University Core quantitative literacy)  
STAT 210 (or higher numbered STAT course) 3
Students must complete the SWS World Passport.  
Students must fulfill an experiential learning requirement through an approved internship (ANTH 493, FRLG 493, WRLD 493, INTL 493 or other pre-approved internship opportunities), major-specific service-learning course or study abroad program. 0-3
Major requirements (minimum 38 credits)  
Students must attain a minimum grade of C in each of the following core anthropology courses marked with an asterisk.  
ANTH 103/INTL 103 Introduction to Anthropology* 3
ANTH 105/INTL 104 Introduction to Archaeology* 3
ANTH 210 Biological Anthropology*, ANTH 220 Cultural Anthropology* or ANTH 230 Anthropological Linguistics* (choose two) 6
ANTH 301/BIOL 341 and Human Evolution* 3
ANTH 302 Archaeological Theory* 3
ANTH 399 Junior Seminar* 1
ANTH 454 Theory in Cultural Anthropology* 3
ANTH 490 Anthropology Senior Capstone* 3
ANTZ 301/BIOL 341 Human Evolution Laboratory* 1
ANTH electives (Complete at least two courses sampling one of three elective groups that are focused on biological anthropology, archaeology or cultural/linguistic anthropology. An updated list of these elective courses is available through the School of World Studies, and choices should be completed with the consultation of an adviser.) 6
Methods requirements (choose two): ANTH 303 Archaeological Methods and Research Design, ANTH 315 Field Methods and Research Design in Cultural Anthropology or ANTH 328 Language, Culture and Cognition (methods requirement 6
Open electives (30-47 credits) 30-47
Total minimum requirement 120

Click here to download a sample outline. [PDF]

Honors in anthropology

Majors in the anthropology program may earn a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in anthropology. Participation in honors thesis research is available to outstanding senior majors and involves the preparation of a senior thesis during the last two semesters of the baccalaureate degree program.

In order to participate in the program, students must meet program entrance requirements, identify a project mentor and receive approval for a project proposal. Honors will be awarded following acceptance of the thesis by the Honors Thesis Committee. The committee will consist of, at a minimum, the project mentor, one other member of the anthropology faculty and one faculty member from outside of the anthropology program.

The project may involve any recognized anthropological topic, theory and/or method that promises to enhance the student's disciplinary perspective, skills and creativity. The project may involve an extension of work initiated in a course, an entirely new project or a collaborative project with the faculty mentor. If the project is an extension of work initiated in a course or developed collaboratively with the mentor, independent, separate, substantial development of the topic in the thesis should be evident in the final product. The thesis should reflect work of high quality for a senior-level course.

Students majoring in anthropology are eligible to participate in the departmental honors program if they have maintained a minimum 3.0 overall GPA and a minimum of 3.3 GPA in the major. Application materials consist of transcripts documenting the required GPAs, a five-to-seven page proposal (including a history and description of the proposed project, an annotated bibliography of relevant sources, a work plan, and a schedule for completion of the project) and a letter of endorsement from the faculty member who has agreed to act as project mentor. Applications must be made and project approval received no later than the first two weeks of classes in the semester in which the project will commence. A departmental committee will review the application materials, meet with the candidate to discuss the project proposal as needed and render an admission decision. Once admitted, program participants will enroll in ANTH 497. The course may be included in the required hours for the major.

Students will complete six credit hours (over two sequential semesters in their senior year) in ANTH 497 and ANTH 498. The student's work will be evaluated by the project mentor and a departmental committee at the end of the first semester (ANTH 497) and a grade will be assigned. If allowed to continue, the student will enroll in ANTH 498 the subsequent semester. At the completion of ANTH 498, the completed senior honors thesis will be submitted to the HTC following its acceptance by the faculty mentor and confirmation that the candidate has maintained the requisite GPAs.

Upon submission of the thesis, the student will make an oral presentation (to be made no later than two weeks before the end of classes) to the HTC and other faculty as deemed appropriate, summarizing the research procedures and findings. The HTC will then evaluate the thesis for the award of honors. In order to receive honors, the thesis must be evaluated as deserving of a grade of A. Whether or not honors are awarded, a final grade will be submitted for ANTH 498. The awarding of honors for the thesis will earn an Honors Certificate from the department and notation of the student's standing as an honors graduate on the final grade transcript. Students must submit a final copy of the thesis to both the department and the VCU Libraries no later than the last day of classes.

Undergraduate topics courses

Topics courses in anthropology, offered as ANTH 391, are an integral part of the program and provide a rare opportunity for the advanced student. Generally these courses are restricted to a small number of students who share specialized interests in a topic that is either too advanced or too limited in its general appeal to justify its inclusion as a standard offering. At least one such course is offered each semester, and ANTH 391 can be repeated for up to a maximum of 18 credits as long as there is no duplication of the topics.

Independent study

ANTH 492 Independent Study is designed for advanced students capable of doing independent work on selected topics under the directions of specific faculty. Students may earn a total maximum of 12 credits in departmental independent study courses and internship credits, but may not enroll for more than six credits per semester in independent studies. Only majors in anthropology or related fields can enroll in these courses. All students entering these courses must have completed a minimum of 12 credits in anthropology and have an anthropology GPA of 3.0 or more.


ANTH 493 Internship is designed for the advanced student to gain workplace experience in a local, national or international business or agency offering opportunities in anthropological field methods or research. Applications must be approved by the School of World Studies internship coordinator. Each student must work 40 clock hours per credit hour in the organization. Students may earn up to a total of six credit hours in internship as anthropology majors and a total of three credit hours of internship as anthropology minors. All students enrolling in an internship must have completed nine credits in anthropology courses at the 300 level or above and be in good academic standing with a minimum major GPA of 2.25.



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