Director of undergraduate studies: William Honeychurch, Rm. 305, 51 Hillhouse Ave., 432-3676;

Anthropology is the study of human cultural, social, and biological diversity from the distant past to the present day and around the world. The undergraduate major in Anthropology introduces students to key topics and approaches in three broad areas, also known as subfields: (1) the evolution of human and nonhuman primates, including the evolutionary biology of living people; (2) the archaeological study of human societies and cultures; (3) social, cultural, and linguistic dimensions of human life. In addition to gaining a broad understanding of these complementary areas of Anthropology, majors develop advanced skills in one or more subfields and may elect to pursue a formal concentration in archaeological, biological, or sociocultural anthropology, or in medical anthropology and global health (see Concentrations). Whatever their path through the major, students learn ways of understanding and engaging with humanity that emerge from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and they often complete synergistic coursework in other departments and programs. All students write a senior essay, often based on independent research, and many go on to careers that incorporate anthropological perspectives.

Requirements of the Major 

Students are required to present twelve course credits toward their major, including at least one introductory or intermediate (100-200 level) course in each of the three subfields of anthropology, at least three advanced courses (300-400 level, not including numbers reserved for senior essay work), and a senior essay. With approval from the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), up to three courses may be selected from other departments as cognates. Cognate courses should be chosen to expand a student’s knowledge in one of the subfields of anthropology or in an area of cross-disciplinary concentration. For example, cognate courses for biological anthropology may be found in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, or Psychology, while cognates for sociocultural anthropology may be found in Sociology, Environmental Studies, Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Appropriate areas of cross-disciplinary coursework also include area studies (e.g., African Studies), or topics such as law, health, gender and sexuality, environment and ecology, science and technology, race and ethnicity, and others.

Credit/D/Fail A maximum of one course taken Credit/D/Fail may be applied toward the Anthropology major.

Searchable attributesYC ANTH: ArchaeologyYC ANTH: BiologicalYC ANTH: Adv Lab/Data Analysis, YC ANTH: LinguisticYC ANTH: MedicalYC ANTH: Sociocultural, YC ANTH: Theory

Senior Requirement

All majors are required to complete a substantial paper during their senior year, either in a seminar or in ANTH 491. In most cases, the senior essay is a traditional written essay, although students may, in consultation with their adviser, propose to work in and submit other media; such senior essays should still be accompanied by a 10-15 page written exposition of the work and its relationship to anthropology. There are three options for completing the senior essay:

Option 1: Students may write a paper in an advanced seminar. A seminar senior essay must be more substantial than a typical term paper, generally 20–25 pages long. It is evaluated by the seminar instructor and a second reader drawn from the Yale faculty. Students must obtain written approval for this option from the seminar instructor no later than the third week of the term. Students fulfilling the requirements of two majors may not apply a single seminar essay toward the senior requirement for both majors. The deadline for a seminar senior essay is the senior essay deadline, not the term paper deadline. Students choosing this option must take the seminar for which they write their essay in addition to the three advanced courses required for the major. Note that some concentrations in Anthropology do not permit a seminar-style senior essay.

Option 2: An independent essay on a subject of the student’s choice, completed in ANTH 491. A student pursuing this option must choose a topic and identify a faculty adviser by the end of the third week of the term in which the essay is to be written. By the same date, the adviser must approve a prospectus that outlines the topic, objectives, and methods of the essay, as well as a preliminary bibliography. The student should also inform the DUS of a preferred second reader by this time.

Option 3: A yearlong paper, begun in ANTH 471 or 472 and completed in ANTH 491. The yearlong essay is designed for students who wish to pursue more extensive independent projects than can be completed in a single term. Students must have their project approved by a faculty adviser who establishes the requirements for ANTH 471 or 472; approval is required before the student registers for ANTH 471 or 472, typically in the fall term of the senior year.

For options two and three, the adviser must have a faculty appointment in Anthropology, and the second reader must have a faculty appointment at Yale.


With permission of the DUS, students may apply up to two courses taken outside Yale as electives or cognates toward the Anthropology major. Such courses must have been approved for Yale College credit and may include courses taken on a year or term abroad or through summer study at another college or university. See Academic Regulations, section K, Special Academic Programs.

Graduate courses Most graduate seminars in anthropology are open to qualified undergraduates. Descriptions are available in the departmental office, 10 Sachem St. Permission of the instructor and of the director of graduate studies is required.

Study Abroad

Study abroad courses that are approved for Yale College and Anthropology credit may be used to replace one elective. If more than one such study abroad course credit is to be used for the major, it will come at the expense of one or more of the three cognate courses which may be taken in any Yale department or program with the approval of the DUS in Anthropology.


Prerequisites None

Number of courses 12 course credits (incl senior req)

Distribution of courses At least one introductory or intermediate, 100-200 level course in each of three subfields; at least three advanced, 300-400 level courses (not incl ANTH 471, 472, 491, or seminar senior essay)

Substitution permitted Up to 3 cognate courses in other departments or programs with DUS approval

Senior requirement Senior essay in advanced sem; or ANTH 491; or yearlong essay in ANTH 471 or 472, along with ANTH 491; students electing a concentration may have additional requirements specific to that concentration

12 courses (12 credits), including senior requirement 

Optional concentrations include Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Sociocultural Anthropology, & Medical Anthropology and Global Health

  • 3 introductory or intermediate courses (100-200 level); 1 each in the following subfields 
    • Evolution of human and nonhuman primates
    • Archaeological study of human societies and cultures
    • Social, cultural, and linguistic dimensions of human life
  • 3 advanced ANTH courses (300-400 level), not including ANTH 471, 472, 491 or the seminar senior essay   

Senior requirement (one of three options)

Note: students electing a concentration may have additional requirements specific to that concentration


Majors may choose to concentrate in one of the following areas to take advantage of groups of related courses and recommended sequences. Each of these concentrations has its own requirements and recommendations that fit within the overall requirements of the anthropology major.

Concentration in Archaeology

The archaeology subfield focuses on understanding societies and cultures through the study of their material remains. Students in anthropological archaeology develop skills that allow them to study sites that were inhabited or modified by people in the past (including sites from relatively recent or modern times), together with a variety of materials recovered at such places, from microscopic residues and chemical traces to monumental buildings and entire landscapes. They learn to develop and apply theoretical approaches from the social sciences and comparative data from ethnographic and historical sources, coupled with a growing range of scientific methods of analysis derived from the natural and biological sciences.

In addition, students should gain field experience by joining a summer field school. Many archaeological field schools are offered around the world, and students are encouraged to apply to the Albers or Coe fellowships to defer the costs. In special cases, laboratory or museum activities may substitute for field work with the approval of the DUS.

A concentration in Archaeology is similar to but also different from a major in Archaeological Studies. The Anthropology major with a concentration in Archaeology provides a strong background in anthropological theory, ethnography, and biological anthropology, in addition to archaeology. The Archaeological Studies major is an option for students who wish to pursue coursework in additional departments, such as Classics and Classical Civilizations, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and History of Art, among others. Alternatively, students can choose to double major in Anthropology and Archaeological Studies.

All students with this concentration need to complete at least six course credits as indicated. Senior majors with a concentration in Archaeology should consult with their senior thesis advisor to complete a thesis pertinent to the archaeology subfield (alternative formats for fulfilling this requirement can be discussed with the thesis advisor and DUS). Courses other than those listed below or tagged with departmental attributes (in YCS) may count with permission of the DUS.

Concentration requirements

Searchable attributes: YC ANTH: ArchaeologyYC ANTH: Adv Lab/Data AnalysisYC ANTH: Theory

Concentration in biological anthropology

The concentration in Biological Anthropology helps students understand human evolutionary biology, comparative primate behavior and biology, evolutionary genetics, and the hominin and primate fossil records. Students become knowledgeable about the fundamentals of evolutionary biology, mechanisms of evolution and population genetics, human and non-human primate behavioral ecology, life history and reproductive ecology, and the relationship of our species to other primates. They will be prepared to navigate research on human and non-human primates thoughtfully and ethically and will have a grounding in the principles of rigorous scientific research, quantitative reasoning, data analysis, data interpretation, and critical analysis of primary scientific literature.

The concentration in Biological Anthropology is distinguished from the major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology by its focus on the evolutionary biology of humans and our primate relatives, including the use of genetics and endocrinology to address questions about both our evolution and our current world, and on the interplay of human biology and culture. Students are encouraged to gain solid scientific backgrounds by taking courses in related departments such as Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The concentration in Biological Anthropology overlaps with and complements the concentration in Medical Anthropology and Global Health in conceptual approaches and scientific methods. It complements the Department’s Archaeology program by its coverage of the fossil and archaeological record for early human evolution and of the ecological, behavioral, and demographic context in which our own species emerged and successfully dispersed across the world. It complements the sociocultural and linguistic anthropology program by providing a comparative context for understanding how our species then came to manifest our contemporary unprecedented behavioral diversity and flexibility.

All students with this concentration need to complete at least six course credits in biological anthropology or cognates, not including the senior project. Senior majors should consult with their senior thesis advisor to complete a thesis with an emphasis on the biological subfield. Essays written as term papers for seminars do not meet the senior requirement for this concentration. Courses other than those listed below or tagged with departmental attributes (in YCS) may count with permission of the DUS.

Concentration requirements

Searchable attribute: YC ANTH: Biological

  • Required course: ANTH 116
  • 4 or more biological anthropology seminar or cognate electives
  • At least 1 advanced seminar in biological anthropology

Concentration in Sociocultural anthropology

A concentration in sociocultural anthropology engages students in the study of how different people live and understand the world, their aspirations and struggles, and how both shared and conflicting ideas, values, and interests are related to action and interaction in society. Study and research in sociocultural anthropology is grounded in wide-ranging social and cultural theory and take ethnography to be a primary mode of research and a key form of expression (whether through ethnographic texts or other media, such as film). This concentration offers students an opportunity to focus on many parts of the world; on areas of inquiry such as environmental anthropology, urban anthropology, or economic anthropology; and topics such as language, legal and political institutions, race and ethnicity, information, science, and technology, gender, sexuality, and the body, and more. Students completing a concentration in sociocultural anthropology will have excellent skills for interpreting cultural differences, understanding power and inequality, and connecting small-scale human lived experiences with an understanding of large-scale structures and transformations.

Students are encouraged to learn more about opportunities and sources of support for undergraduate research in anthropology. 

Students in this concentration are also invited to explore the Certificate in Ethnography as a means to deepen and expand their interests in sociocultural anthropology through coursework in related academic units that engage with ethnographic methods and ethnography-informed scholarship, including (but not limited to): African American Studies, American Studies, Environmental Studies, Ethnicity, Race, and Migration (ER&M), History, History of Science and Medicine (HSHM), Political Science, Sociology, Urban Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS).

Note: The Anthropology Department does not offer an independent concentration in linguistic anthropology. Students interested in linguistic anthropology may concentrate on sociocultural anthropology and consult with the DUS and appropriate faculty about choosing courses most relevant to their interests.

There are six required course credits that may be applied to this concentration. With DUS approval, similar courses taught in the department, or a related department or program, may substitute. The senior requirement is not one of the concentration requirements; however, seniors should consult with their senior thesis advisor to complete a thesis emphasizing the sociocultural subfield. Courses other than those listed below or tagged with departmental attributes (in YCS) may count with permission of the DUS.

Concentration requirements

Searchable attributes: YC ANTH: Sociocultural, YC ANTH: Linguistic

  • 1 introductory course in sociocultural anthropology at the 100 level
  • 2 or more electives in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology at the 200-400 level
  • ANTH 303, the core research methods course, usually taken in the junior year. With DUS approval, a similar methods course taught in the Department, or a related department or program, may substitute.
  • ANTH 311, the core theory course, usually taken in the junior year

concentration in medical anthropology and global health

The concentration in Medical Anthropology and Global Health (MAGH) addresses the biological, ecological, economic, political, and sociocultural dimensions of health, illness, and healing around the world. It brings together theories, frameworks, and ethnographic foundations from sociocultural anthropology with biocultural orientations and research approaches found in biological anthropology. Students learn theoretical and methodological tools to think critically about issues related to health research, practice, and policy. They address the biological, ethical, and sociocultural aspects of global health inequities, caregiving, medical and healing practices, technological innovations, and health interventions. The concentration encourages a mindful and critical look at how social conditions and inequalities shape the health and illness experiences of individuals, families, and populations. Students who choose a MAGH concentration may pursue further graduate academic study in medical anthropology, or careers in biomedical and health-related fields, including epidemiology, global health, nursing, medicine, and public health. Others may be interested in health policy and legal aspects of health care delivery, among other fields.

All students opting for this concentration must complete six course credits in medical anthropology, global health, or cognate disciplines. In consultation with their adviser and/or the DUS, and especially if they plan independent research, students may wish to take an appropriate methods course as well. The senior requirement is not one of the concentration requirements; however, seniors should consult with their senior thesis advisor to complete a thesis emphasizing the medical anthropology or global health subfield. Courses other than those listed below or tagged with departmental attributes (in YCSmay count with permission of the DUS.

Concentration requirements

Searchable attribute: YC ANTH: Medical

  • ANTH 448
  •  at least 1 seminar at the 300- or 400- level that supports their preparation for the senior essay and 4 other electives

The following courses introduce students to the subfields of anthropology.

Archaeological anthropology ANTH 172, Great Hoaxes and Fantasies in Archaeology

Biological anthropology ANTH 116, Introduction to Biological Anthropology 

Sociocultural anthropology ANTH 110, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology 

The following courses are among those appropriate for first-year students, whether or not they intend to major in Anthropology.

Students are invited to contact the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) in the fall to begin planning a program of study.


Professors Richard Bribiescas, Richard Burger, Michael Dove (School of the Environment), Kathryn Dudley (Anthropology/American Studies), Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Erik Harms, William Honeychurch, Marcia Inhorn, Paul Kockelman, Catherine Panter-Brick, Douglas Rogers, Eric Sargis, Helen Siu, Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, Anne Underhill, Claudia Valeggia, David Watts

Associate Professors Oswaldo Chinchilla, Yukiko Koga, Louisa Lombard, Lisa Messeri, Christen Smith (Anthropology/African American Studies)

Assistant Professors Jessica Thompson, Serena Tucci

Lecturers Carol Carpenter, Jane Lynch

See visual roadmap of the requirements.