About the Major

Department/Program Description.

The discipline of anthropology is as much one of the humanities as one of the social sciences, and it also has affinities with the natural sciences through its archaeological and biological anthropology components. Anthropology majors are expected to pursue an individually tailored concentration of courses designed in consultation with their advisors. These individual programs should draw on courses available in this department and others. No more than three courses taken outside Wesleyan may be counted toward the major.

Admission to the Major.

If you plan to major in anthropology, you should take ANTH101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, the department's required gateway course, during your first or second year. A minimum grade of B in ANTH101 is expected as a condition of acceptance into the major. Students enrolled in ANTH101 during the spring of their sophomore year may declare the major if their midterm grade is a B or higher.

Major Requirements.

In addition to ANTH101, majors are required to earn a minimum of nine anthropology credits numbered 201 or higher. These must include two core courses in anthropological theory, ANTH295 Theory 1 and ANTH296 Theory 2, offered in fall and spring, respectively. As the precise topics of these courses will sometimes vary in consecutive years, it may be possible to repeat one or the other for credit and fulfill the requirement, as long as the topics are different. Archaeology-track majors should take Theory 1 or Theory 2 plus another advisor-approved course in archaeological theory. All majors must take our required course in anthropological methods, ANTH208 Crafting Ethnography, except archaeology-track majors, who should take an archaeological methods course (for example, ANTH349 or ANTH265).  In addition, students must develop and complete an area of concentration consisting of four elective courses (see below). Senior majors are required to write a thesis, essay, or a senior seminar paper as part of their capstone experience (see below). It is strongly recommended that students work out their plans to fulfill the major requirements with their advisor by keeping their Major Certification Form up-to-date.

Concentrations: We encourage students to include one course from outside the discipline of anthropology as one of the four courses in their concentration. Concentrations are conceived of as flexible specializations reflecting students’ particular areas of interest. Students work with their faculty advisors to decide on a coherent set of four courses that demonstrate their specific focus within anthropology.

Starting with the Class of 2019, there are three standing concentrations, plus a fourth "Self-Designated Concentration."

For the Classes of 2017 and 2018, the areas of concentration include the list below. They may opt to continue following these options or consider the newer concentrations listed above.

You can also design your own concentration in consultation with your major advisor. Full descriptions of our concentrations are here.

Study Abroad.

Majors are encouraged to take advantage of study-abroad programs and, with the approval of their advisor via the Major Certification Form, students may substitute up to three of their study-abroad courses for specific concentration or elective courses. Theory and methods courses may not be substituted. A grade of B or higher is required for study-abroad courses to count toward the major. The Office of International Studies has information about specific programs, application procedures, major credit, etc.

Capstone Experience.

Senior majors are required to write a thesis, essay, or a senior seminar paper as part of their capstone experience.

Theses: In the fall semester of their senior year, students writing a thesis should enroll in ANTH400 Cultural Analysis, a research and writing seminar in which students pursue individual research projects in a group context. In the spring semester of their senior year, thesis candidates should enroll in an individual thesis tutorial (ANTH410). It is strongly recommended that students contemplating a thesis either enroll in an individual tutorial (ANTH402) in the spring semester of their junior year, in which they would begin library research on their area of interest, or else take a course that is relevant to their research concerns. Students wishing to write a fieldwork- or library-based thesis must submit a proposal, due on the Friday before spring break of their junior year. Fieldwork-based thesis projects are also eligible for partial funding through the department. If students wish to compete for these funds, they should include a budget in their proposal. 

Essay: Essays involve fewer requirements but also represent a serious research commitment.  Essay writers do not need to submit a research proposal in their junior year.  In most cases, essay writers should enroll in ANTH400 in the fall semester of their senior year.  In this case, they would complete a draft of their essay in the fall semester, and submit a final version by the first day of the Spring semester.  Alternately, if their project is one that a particular faculty member  is especially qualified (and willing) to supervise, they may take a program project or essay tutorial (ANTH403) with that person in the fall semester their senior year.

Seminar papers: In the senior year students who select this option should take a 300-level course (or an advisor-approved 200-level course) that involves a substantial research paper. The course will ordinarily but not necessarily be one that facilitates advanced work in their area of concentration. The course must be designated and approved by the major advisor in the student's Major Certification Form prior to spring break of their senior year.


Only theses are eligible for honors or high honors.  A minimum grade of B+ in either ANTH295 Theory 1 or ANTH296 Theory 2 is required for the pursuit of honors.

Additional Information.

Cross-listed courses: Various departments and programs offer cross-listed or other courses that can be counted toward the anthropology major. These include African American studies, American studies, archaeology, biology, classical studies, earth and environmental sciences, history, religion, sociology, and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. If outside courses are to be counted toward the anthropology major requirements, your advisor must approve them using the Major Certification Form.

Double majors: Students may pursue double majors, for example, anthropology/history, anthropology/biology, anthropology/sociology, anthropology/music, anthropology/film, anthropology/English, or anthropology/E&ES. All the requirements for the two majors must be met, except when faculty representatives of the two departments approve alterations in your program. We generally expect students writing a thesis for honors in both majors to enroll in ANTH400 in their fall semester and enroll in a tutorial in the other department or program in their spring semester. Please consult with the department chair and/or a department advisor.