Anthropology Major


Welcome to Penn Anthropology! We invite you to explore our courses and major and minor programs. Below you will find an overview of our major requirements, and the recommended timeline for completing the major. When you’re ready to meet with us, follow the steps in the Declaring the Major section. If you have any questions about coursework or planning before that time, we’re ready to help. We also encourage you to connect with current anthropology students who offer peer advising through the Major Advising Program.

Anthropology is composed of four main branches, or sub-fields: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Linguistic Anthropology. Our undergraduate program takes a four-field approach, which exposes students to each of these sub-fields’ particular focus and methods.

With careful planning, many students successfully double major in Anthropology and another field. We are happy to discuss this option with you (the earlier the better!) In the last few years, students have combined Anthropology with numerous other majors in SAS (including Creative Writing, Health and Societies, Classical Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Political Science, Art History, Biological Basis of Behavior, Religious Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, History, Economics, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Psychology, Hispanic Studies, and more) as well as majors in Wharton (Finance, Management) and Nursing. Students find that the study of Anthropology can complement and enhance the study of many other fields, and vice-versa.

Overview of Requirements*

The Anthropology major requires 14 course units. Students must take three foundational courses (ANTH 0010, ANTH 0050 or ANTH 1480, ANTH 0020 or ANTH 0040, and ANTH 0030), and are encouraged to do so as early as possible. All majors are required to take ANTH 4000 (Research Seminar in Anthropology), preferably in the fall of their junior year. Students have the option of completing a senior thesis, which requires taking ANTH 4010 (Senior Thesis independent study.) Finally, with prior approval from the undergraduate chair, up to three courses offered by other departments (non-ANTH courses) may counted as electives in the major.

The Concentrations

Students may major in General Anthropology, or choose one of the other concentrations below. General Anthropology provides a foundation in four-field anthropology, allowing students considerable flexibility in coursework to explore the discipline’s breadth. In the Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology concentrations, students deepen their understanding of one or more anthropological sub-fields. The Environmental Anthropology and Medical Anthropology and Global Health concentrations employ perspectives from multiple anthropological sub-fields to focus upon a theme.

Each concentration has different requirements. Click to learn more:
General Anthropology
Biological Anthropology
Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology
Environmental Anthropology
Medical Anthropology and Global Health

Declaring the Major

1. Meet with your College Advisor to discuss your progress toward degree requirements and your proposed major(s) and minor(s) during sophomore year. 

2. Email the Undergraduate Chair to request a major declaration meeting. In this meeting, the Undergraduate Chair will explain the Anthropology curriculum, help you choose a major concentration, and review your course elections for the following semester. After this meeting, fill out the Declare/Update Field of Study form and submit it for approval. The Undergraduate Chair will then approve the form and your degree audit will switch to the anthropology major. You will also be added to the undergraduate listserv. 

Recommended Timeline*

1. During freshman and sophomore year, take the three foundational courses (ANTH 0010, ANTH 0050 or ANTH 1480, ANTH 0020 or ANTH 0040, and ANTH 0030) and other anthropology courses that interest you.

2. Declare the anthropology major during your sophomore year. At this time, you should sign up to take any remaining foundational courses (ANTH 0010, ANTH 0050 or ANTH 1480, ANTH 0020 or 0040, and ANTH 0030.) Complete these courses before the senior year.

3. Consider research opportunities, study abroad, and the optional senior thesis towards the end of sophomore year and during junior year. Early planning will allow you to complete the major while taking anthropology courses that suit your interests.

4. Take the required Research Seminar, ANTH 4000, recommended in the fall of junior year. This course is only offered once per year, in the fall semester. In the fall of your senior year, you must take ANTH 4000 if you have not already taken it as a junior.

5. Students completing the optional senior thesis must enroll in ANTH 4010 (Senior Thesis independent study) during the senior year. See the senior thesis page for more information. 

6. Check in regularly with the Undergraduate Chair and/or Undergraduate Coordinator as you progress through the anthropology major. Students should schedule major advising meetings at least once per semester after declaring the major.

Graduating with Departmental Honors

Anthropology majors have the opportunity to pursue departmental honors (a notation of “Distinction in Anthropology” added to the student’s transcript upon graduation). To earn departmental honors, students must:

1. Complete the senior thesis. Students must meet all requirements of the senior thesis by the appropriate deadlines, and the thesis advisor(s) and Undergraduate Chair must thereafter approve the thesis for honors. See complete details on the senior thesis page.

2. Achieve a 3.50+ GPA in all coursework applied to the Anthropology major.

3. Opt-in to be considered for departmental honors by emailing the Undergraduate Coordinator no later than 30 days prior to your date of graduation.

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The University of Pennsylvania values diversity and seeks talented students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected class status in the administration of its admissions, financial aid, educational or athletic programs, or other University-administered programs or in its employment practices. Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to the Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street, Suite 421, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106; or (215) 898-6993 (Voice).


*All Penn courses were assigned new 4-digit numbers in spring 2022. You can compare the new numbers with the old 3-digit numbers here.