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Department Overview

M32 Denny

Anthropology is the study of human beings in all their cultural and biological diversity. It includes the study of human evolution, the archaeological record, language and culture, the relationship between humans and their environment, and cultural modes of being as these differ in time and space. In studying anthropology, students can better understand how to find ways to live together in today's world, respecting cultural diversity while building upon common human values.

The study of anthropology at the University of Washington comprises three sub-disciplines:

  • Archaeology is the study of the human past through investigation of material remains (artifacts, food remains, features, structures, etc.) and their relationships in space and time.
  • Biocultural anthropology focuses on understanding human variation through the study of the ecological, demographic, genetic, developmental, paleontological, and epidemiological dimensions of modern human adaptation and its evolutionary basis.
  • Sociocultural anthropology is the study of human societies, their cultures and histories, and the circuits of power and exchange that link them to the world at large.

Study at the undergraduate level can further entail any of four optional tracks: Medical Anthropology and Global Health, Anthropology of Globalization, Archaeological Sciences, and Human Evolutionary Biology.

Undergraduate Program

247 Denny, Box 353100
(206) 543-7772

The Department of Anthropology offers the following undergraduate programs:

  • The Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in anthropology
  • The Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in anthropology, with options in medical anthropology and global health (MAGH), anthropology of globalization (AG), archaeological sciences (ASc), or human evolutionary biology (HEB)
  • A minor in anthropology

Bachelor of Arts

Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: ARCHY 205; BIO A 201; any additional 200-level ANTH course; and one from CS&SS 221/SOC 221/STAT 221, STAT 220, STAT 311, Q SCI 381, or ARCHY 495.

Department Admission Requirements

Students in good academic standing may declare this major at any time.

Major Requirements

55 credits as follows:

  1. Core courses (20 credits): BIO A 201; any 200-level ANTH course; any 200-level ARCHY course; and one of the following: CS&SS 221/SOC 221/STAT 221, STAT 220, STAT 311, Q SCI 381, or ARCHY 495
  2. 35 additional ANTH, ARCHY, and BIO A credits distributed across the subfields or concentrated as suits the interests of the student. 20 of these credits must be in upper-division (300- or 400-level) courses. Students may count one 100-level ANTH, ARCHY, or BIO A course toward the major, but are not required to do so.
    1. The following AIS courses may apply toward this requirement: AIS 201, AIS 202, AIS 203, AIS 240, AIS 311, AIS 317, AIS 330, AIS 335, AIS 340, AIS 443. There is no limit on the number of AIS courses that may apply to this requirement.
    2. Maximum 12 credits (18 credits for departmental Honors students) from ANTH 499, ARCHY 499, and BIO A 499 combined can be counted toward the major.
  3. Additional major requirements:
    1. 2.00 or higher cumulative GPA for all courses counted toward major requirements b. Minimum 15 upper-division credits in anthropology completed through the UW.
  4. Students may pursue either the general anthropology major or one of the four options shown below.

Medical Anthropology and Global Health (MAGH) Option: Requirements for the general anthropology major, as shown above, to include either ANTH 215 or ANTH 302 and 15 additional credits from ANTH and BIO A courses approved for the MAGH option. A list of approved courses is available at the department advising office or on the department website.

Anthropology of Globalization (AG) Option: Requirements for the general anthropology major, as shown above, to include 20 credits from courses in ANTH, ARCHY, and BIO A approved for the AG option. A list of approved courses is available at the department advising office or on the department website.

Archaeological Sciences (ASc) Option: Requirements for the general anthropology major, as shown above, to include ARCHY 205 and at least 15 credits from ARCHY 372, ARCHY 373, ARCHY 410, ARCHY 459, ARCHY 465, ARCHY 467, ARCHY 472, ARCHY 473, ARCHY 480, ARCHY 481, ARCHY 482, ARCHY 483, ARCHY 484, ARCHY 486, ARCHY 487, ARCHY 495, BIO A 487, and at least 15 credits from courses approved for the ASc option. A list of approved courses is available on the department website or at the department advising office.

Human Evolutionary Biology (HEB) Option: Requirements for the general anthropology major, as shown above, to include BIO A 351 or BIO A 355; either BIO A 101 or BIO A 348; and 15 credits from courses approved for the HEB option. A list of approved courses is available at the department advising office or on the department website.


Minor Requirements: 30 credits (at least 15 credits at upper-division level) from courses with the following prefixes: ANTH, ARCHY, BIO A. ANTH 100 may be applied to the minor but is not required.  (Certain AIS courses may apply toward this requirement. See departmental adviser for list.) Minimum 2.0 grade required in each course.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The study of anthropology develops skills in critical thinking, research, and writing, as well as technical skills specific to the different subfields (ethnographic field techniques, interpretation of data, statistical analysis, archaeological methods of data collection and interpretation). An undergraduate degree prepares students for many positions that involve working with people, as well as for academic studies in a variety of fields. Careers in anthropology can be developed through employment with government agencies, museums, teaching and research, private consulting firms, and nongovernmental organizations.
  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Undergraduate students have access to the following facilities for classroom training in laboratory methods and for research experiences subject to faculty approval and supervision: the Burke Museum (ethnological, archaeological, natural history, and archival collection), Quaternary Research Center, Biodemography laboratory, Luminescence Dating laboratory Electron Microscope laboratory cooperative, Geoarchaeology laboratory, Digital Imaging and Microscopy laboratory, Geographical Information System (GIS) computer laboratory. In addition, the department co-sponsors with the Department of Geography a writing center offering undergraduate writing support for anthropology classes.
  • Honors Options available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: The Department of Anthropology supports students who undertake community-based internships under faculty supervision.
  • Department Scholarships:
    • The Brett E Baldwin Scholarship, for approximately $1,000, is awarded to an outstanding graduate or undergraduate majoring in anthropology.
    • The Wienker Prize for Best Undergraduate Essay. Four awards are given each year, one in each sub-discipline for the best essay in an undergraduate anthropology class, and one for the best senior honors thesis.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: The Anthropology Club is run by and for students in the department.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
M31 Denny Hall, Box 353100
(206) 685-1562

The department recognizes three principal subfields of anthropology within its faculty, programs, and curriculum: archaeology, biocultural anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology (including linguistic anthropology). The department offers three distinct PhD programs within the sub-disciplines. Additionally, the department has an informal program in environmental anthropology which applicants may pursue within one of the traditional PhD track programs. A concurrent degree program with Health Services offers an MPH/PhD. A PhD program in sociocultural anthropology with emphasis in ethnomusicology is offered in cooperation with the School of Music. The MA degree may be earned within the PhD programs. Graduate students are admitted to, and specialize in, their chosen subfields from the beginning of their graduate studies.

Admission Requirements

Applicants are admitted to begin study only during autumn quarter and are advised to have their application materials completed by the beginning of the prior January. A complete application file includes the online application to the Graduate School, official transcripts, the supplementary application to anthropology, three recommendations, a statement of purpose, and scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). International students are required to take the TOEFL exam as well as the GRE.

Degree Requirements

For each of the respective graduate programs, completion of the core requirements and a reading knowledge of one foreign language are required. Under the guidance of a Supervisory Committee selected from the appropriate subfield, the student shapes an individual program. The major areas emphasized in the faculty and curriculum are the United States, Mexico, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Oceania, Middle East, and the post-Soviet states. The MA degree usually requires two years of graduate study; the PhD programs usually require at least three years beyond the master's level, including a year of independent field research and a year to organize field materials and write a doctoral dissertation. The MA degree can be earned only within the PhD programs as a thesis or non-thesis degree.

Financial Aid

Two multi-year recruitment fellowships are awarded to outstanding entering students. A limited number of teaching and research assistantships and hourly positions are offered primarily to advanced students. Applicants should apply for Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships if qualified. Work-study positions may also be available for eligible graduate students.