This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. We may add courses that expose our students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning. We may also add content to the general education program that focuses on racial literacy and a racial literacy graduation requirement, and may receive notification of additional program approvals after the launch. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

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 35 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 six elective credits from such classes to be counted toward the major. Alternatively, in addition to the three experiential credits fulfilling collateral requirements, a maximum of six 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.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Global knowledge, citizenship and ethics: Anthropology graduates will recognize and describe cultural, economic, informational and social interdependencies that exist among nations and cultures today, including an ethical understanding of the effects of such factors as racial, ethnic and gender differences.
  2. Scientific and anthropological literacy: Students will evaluate and assess scientific findings by employing concepts and methodologies of modern science as applied to anthropological questions. 
  3. Advanced oral and written communication skills: Graduates will effectively communicate ideas about anthropological tenets in both oral and written formats. 
  4. Research methods and design skills: Students will demonstrate the ability to design appropriate anthropological research questions and apply research methodologies to answer those questions. 
  5. Critical-thinking skills: Graduates will critically evaluate their own cultural and biological histories and experiences, as well as those of others. 
  6. Experiential learning: Students will synthesize and apply anthropological tenets in experiential learning opportunities including study abroad, internships, service-learning, independent studies or field schools. 

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

The goal of the anthropology program is to impart to 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 humans’ 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.

Experiential learning and study abroad

Each student completing a degree program within the School of World Studies is required to complete a World ePass as part of their experiential learning requirement; students are also encouraged to participate in a study abroad program. For more information on the ePass portfolio and study abroad opportunities, students may visit the overview page for the School of World Studies

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.