The Anthropology Department at the University of Kansas

Anthropologists are concerned with the origin, history, and future of the human species. Our mission is to further our understanding of past and present human societies in their cultural, biological, and environmental contexts. As flows of people, ideas, money, and goods are crossing borders at unprecedented speeds, we are encountering human diversity now, more than ever before. The discipline provides students the knowledge and skills they will need to navigate these complex, multicultural, and rapidly changing worlds. Because we study what it is to be human, the field is one of the most wide-ranging of the academic disciplines.

There are four main subdisciplines of anthropology: Archaeology is concerned with studying the human past based on the material culture left behind. Biological or physical anthropology is concerned with human evolution and variation. Linguistic anthropology focuses on the relationship between language and culture, as well as the documentation of the history and evolution of languages over time and across space. Cultural anthropology is concerned with the many ways humans organize themselves to live together, questioning past and present patterns of meaning and power relationships on local and global scales. Anthropologists across all of the subdisciplines apply holistic, comparative, and evolutionary perspectives and a range of methodologies in their research. We are committed to fieldwork and the application of this knowledge to helping people better understand one another.

Why Study Anthropology?

Students have many reasons for wanting to major in anthropology. Some are curious about the origins of the human species. Others are fascinated the diversity of human experiences in ancient and modern periods. Some students intend to pursue international careers, where they will use languages and work in cultural contexts very different from those in which they were raised. Others plan to work in museums collecting and curating human cultural resources. Some wish to pursue graduate training in one of the field’s subdisciplines, while others seek to use their anthropological training as preparation for professional schools, including law, medicine, public health, journalism, business, and engineering. There are many professions where the broad scientific, humanistic, and multicultural knowledge available through the study of anthropology can be useful—in education, healthcare, law, social work, business, human resources, public affairs, cultural resource management, or laboratory research.

Anthropological Research Opportunities at KU

  • Laboratory of Biological Anthropology (LBA): Founded in 1975, the LBA was established as a research center of the University of Kansas. The LBA has supported graduate and undergraduate student research in biological anthropology, human genetics, and genetic epidemiology.
  • Archaeological Research Center: Located in historic Spooner Hall on the main campus, the archaeology laboratory offers research space and support to Anthropology faculty and graduate students, Archaeology staff, Museum Studies interns, affiliate curators and research associates and visiting scholars.
  • Field Schools:  Anthropology faculty offer field schools in archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology. Undergraduates and graduate students have conducted independent and collaborative research in the United States, including Alaska; Mexico, Central, and South America; sub-Saharan Africa; and Asia. 

For specific questions about our program, please contact us:
The University of Kansas
Department of Anthropology
Undergraduate Program
1415 Jayhawk Blvd.,
622 Fraser Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045
Phone: (785) 864-2630
Fax: (785) 864-5224

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

First- and Second-Year Preparation

To complete the requirements for the degree in 4 years, the department recommends the following:

  1. Prospective majors should have completed all general education and language requirements no later than the end of the fall semester of the junior year.
  2. Prospective majors should meet with the undergraduate advisor upon declaration of the major
    1. to assess their progress toward completing the degree in 4 years, and
    2. to develop a plan for their course work in their remaining semesters.
  3. Prospective majors are advised to take required courses in part 1 before the junior year.

Requirements for the B.A. or B.G.S. Major

A minimum of 31-34 hours is required. The major offers a systematic introduction to each of the subdisciplines along with advanced training in specific areas. These normally are taken before moving on to upper-level courses. Students should select courses listed in part 2 in consultation with faculty advisors.

Anthropology Core Knowledge and Skills

Majors must complete a course in each of the following areas. Two should be at the 300 level.

Anthropology Core Knowledge and Skills
Majors must complete a course in each of the following areas:
Succeeding in Anthropology. (1)
Satisfied by:
ANTH 102Succeeding in Anthropology1
Fundamentals of Physical Anthropology (3)3
Satisfied by one of the following:
Fundamentals of Biological Anthropology
Fundamentals of Biological Anthropology, Honors
Fundamentals of Biological Anthropology
Introduction to Linguistics or Language in Culture & Society (3)3
Satisfied by one of the following:
Introductory Linguistics
Introductory Linguistics, Honors
Language in Culture and Society
Language in Culture and Society, Honors
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology or the Varieties of Human Experience (3)3
Satisfied by one of the following:
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Honors
Fundamentals of Cultural Anthropology
The Varieties of Human Experience
The Varieties of Human Experience, Honors
The Varieties of Human Experience
Introduction to Archaeology (3)3
Satisfied by one of the following:
Introduction to Archaeology
Introduction to Archaeology, Honors
World Prehistory
Fundamentals of Archaeology

Anthropology Subdiscipline Required Electives

Majors must complete a course in the following areas. Majors should consult with their academic advisor to select courses that best meet their interests.

Students considering graduate school should take at least 2 courses beyond major requirements. These should be selected in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Anthropology Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 31-34 hours of major courses.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 12 hours of KU resident credit in the major. 

Major Junior/Senior (300+) Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 12 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior (300+) Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator

A sample 4-year plan for the BA degree in Anthropology can be found here: Anthropology, or by using the left-side navigation.

A sample 4-year plan for the BGS degree in Anthropology can be found here: Anthropology, or by using the left-side navigation.

Departmental Honors

To qualify for honors, an undergraduate must achieve an in-residence and combined minimum grade-point average of 3.25 overall and 3.5 in anthropology. Students must file a declaration of intent form with the instructor with whom they choose to work. In addition to the required hours, the student must enroll in 3 to 6 hours of ANTH 499 Senior Honors Research and complete a senior thesis based on this work. It is recommended that all candidates make an oral presentation of their research results. One copy of the thesis must be bound and placed in the departmental thesis library.