Anthropology Major, B.A.

Department of Anthropology

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301 Alumni Building, CB#3115

(919) 962-1243

Patricia McAnany, Chair

Anna Agbe-Davies, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Anthropology is the integrative study of human beings at all times and in all places. Anthropological expertise has special application for hidden histories and the ancient past; the intersection of human biology and ecology; and the way communities create and use meaning, values, and history in everyday life. Students interested in choosing anthropology as a major or minor should visit the department’s Web site and click on the link for the undergraduate program. Students planning a major in anthropology should inform the department’s director of undergraduate studies. Students should consult with the director of undergraduate studies on a regular basis.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the anthropology program, students should be able to:

  • Discuss and critically assess theories and concepts for the study of social, cultural, and biological forms, phenomena, and change in the human species
  • Engage in the coherent, holistic, integrative study of humans over time and space
  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of human social, cultural, and biological heterogeneity, within a framework that affirms the essential unity of the human species


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
One course from biological anthropology chosen from the following list:3
Human Evolution and Adaptation
Human Origins
Human Biology in Comparative Perspective
Human Genetics and Evolution
Global Health
One course from archaeology chosen from the following list:3
Ancient Cities of the Americas
Introduction to World Prehistory
Great Discoveries in Archaeology
Principles of Archaeology
Prehistoric Art
The Inca and Their Ancestors: The Archaeology of Andean South America
Ancestral Maya Civilizations H
Archaeology of North America H
The Archaeology of African Diasporas
Perspectives in Historical Archaeology
One course from sociocultural anthropology chosen from the following list:3
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Anthropology through Expressive Cultures
Comparative Healing Systems
Action Research
Anthropology of War and Peace
Culture and Consumption
One theoretical perspectives course chosen from the following list (taken in the junior year): 13
Archaeological Theory and Practice
Anthropological Perspectives on Society and Culture
Directions in Anthropology H
Biological Anthropology Theory and Practice
Capstone Seminar in Anthropology3
Undergraduate Seminar in Anthropology
Four additional three-hour courses in anthropology12
Additional Requirements
No more than three courses used to fulfill the major can be numbered below 200.
No more than six hours of field-oriented coursework can be counted toward the major.
Internship in Anthropology
Research in Anthropology H
Field School in North American Archaeology H
Field School in South American Archaeology H
No more than three hours of coursework from the following list may be counted toward the major:
Research in Anthropology I
Independent Reading or Study in Anthropology I
Research in Anthropology II
Independent Reading or Study in Anthropology II
Independent Reading or Study in Anthropology H
Seniors Honors Project in Anthropology
Senior Honors Thesis in Anthropology
Total Hours27

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

The department recommends that majors enroll in some field-oriented coursework such as ANTH 393, ANTH 395, ANTH 451, ANTH 453, or in study abroad coursework.

Special Opportunities in Anthropology

Honors in Anthropology

Writing an honors thesis is an excellent way to cap one’s major in anthropology. The process offers students the chance to carry out original research on a topic that they are passionate about. Our thesis writers work closely with a faculty advisor and committee members to develop their project. The department provides excellent support, offering a specific seminar during the fall (ANTH 691H) and a corresponding independent study (ANTH 692H), that together walk students through the essential steps of research design and writing. For our students, writing an honors thesis continues to prove a pivotal experience—at once a capstone to their studies at Carolina and an achievement to carry with them into their lives and careers beyond.

To pursue an honors thesis project, students must:

  • Maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.3 from the spring semester of the junior year through the entirety of the senior year
  • Secure a faculty advisor who is an anthropologist at UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • Successfully complete the ANTH 691H and ANTH 692H sequence
  • Receive approval from UNC’s Office for Human Research Ethics prior to the start of research, for all projects involving human subjects

The process for approval requires several steps:

  • Students considering an honor thesis should first contact the director of undergraduate studies or the honors thesis seminar instructor, during their junior year (or earlier).
  • Eligible students next should secure an advisor prior to enrolling in ANTH 691H for the fall semester of their senior year. Typically, the advisor is a professor that they have worked with in a class or faculty member with shared interests.
  • In the fall students develop their research design and begin to write their thesis ANTH 691H.
  • In the spring, students complete an independent study with their advisor, focusing on writing the thesis ANTH 692H. Students also form their committee, by adding two additional faculty members.
  • To complete the process, students defend (i.e., present and discuss) their thesis to their committee. 

Internships, Field Work, and Independent Study

Students who wish to explore an anthropological concern outside the conventional classroom setting, or who desire advanced or specialized work beyond current course offerings, should consider ANTH 393, ANTH 395, ANTH 396, ANTH 451, and ANTH 453.

ANTH 393 provides anthropology students the opportunity to engage in internships or other field experiences within or beyond the University that have a significant anthropological learning component. Variable credit may be obtained for this course. ANTH 393 is a controlled enrollment course; it requires the permission in advance of the faculty member sponsoring the internship, of a responsible official of the agency in which the internship is carried, and of the director of undergraduate studies. It is essential that students make arrangements and secure permissions prior to the semester of the internship.

ANTH 396 provides anthropology students the opportunity to engage in independent study, and ANTH 395, the opportunity to engage in field research, in both cases under the mentoring of a specific faculty member. Variable credit may be obtained for these courses, although three units are usually expected. ANTH 396 and ANTH 395 require the permission of the faculty member under whom the student wishes to conduct research prior to the semester in which ANTH 396 or ANTH 395 is taken. Both are controlled enrollment courses. In general, these courses should be taken only by students with some prior coursework in anthropology or a related social science.

ANTH 451 and ANTH 453 are six-unit field school courses in which the student gains hands-on experience in research and study in the field under the direction of a faculty member.

Anthropology majors are limited to having no more than six credit hours of field-oriented coursework (ANTH 393, ANTH 395, ANTH 451, or ANTH 453) count toward meeting the major requirement, although they are not restricted from enrolling in more than six credit hours of these courses combined.

Study Abroad

Anthropology majors are encouraged to enroll in a study abroad program. These programs can offer direct experience of another culture and intensive language training, as well as excellent coursework in anthropology. By consulting with their departmental advisors as well as with the University’s Study Abroad Office, students can assess the relevance of available programs to their interests and arrange to transfer credit hours to count toward their undergraduate degree and, where appropriate, the anthropology major. Study abroad programs are often affordable even to students who require financial aid. Information about student loans and scholarships for the purpose of studying abroad can be obtained from the Study Abroad Office.

Undergraduate Awards

The Honigmann Undergraduate Honors Thesis Award is given each year to the student who completed the best undergraduate honors project.