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
E-mail:  kuanthro@ku.edu
Phone: (785) 864-2630
Fax: (785) 864-5224
http://anthropology.ku.edu/overview-ba-anthropology

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 International Support 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.

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

To declare a major or minor in Anthropology, students work with the Anthropology academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Students will be assigned a faculty mentor at the time of declaration for guidance on concentrations, course selection, and careers in anthropology. Anthropology majors may pursue a degree that concentrates in in General Anthropology, which allows the widest selection of courses. Anthropology majors may also select a concentration in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Sociocultural Anthropology, which provide in-depth knowledge in the discipline’s subfields. Students considering graduate studies in anthropology should choose a concentration in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, or Sociocultural Anthropology. To complete a B.A. or B.G.S. Major in Anthropology, students must complete a minimum of 30 hours in the discipline, with a 2.0 grade-point average required in anthropology courses numbered 300 and above. Up to 6 hours may be taken outside the Anthropology department with approval of a faculty mentor.

A.   Concentration in General Anthropology 

Students who choose the General Anthropology Concentration seek a broad, integrative Anthropology major. They may select a fundamentals course and a methods course from Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, or Sociocultural Anthropology, and may choose electives from any anthropological subfield. The Concentration in General Anthropology also allows students to design a cross-disciplinary major that does not neatly fit under a single subfield (e.g., biocultural anthropology or bioarchaeology). Students will select courses for their degree in consultation with their faculty mentor.

1. Three Required Courses for Anthropology Majors concentrating in General Anthropology (9 hours): 

ANTH 150Becoming Human3
or ANTH 151 Becoming Human, Honors
ANTH 160The Varieties of Human Experience3
or ANTH 162 The Varieties of Human Experience, Honors
ANTH 401Integrating Anthropology3

2. One Required Fundamentals Course for Anthropology Majors concentrating in General Anthropology (3 hours). May be satisfied by at least one of the following

ANTH 308Fundamentals of Cultural Anthropology3
ANTH 310Fundamentals of Archaeology3
ANTH 340Human Variation and Evolution3

3. One Required Research Methods Course for Anthropology Majors concentrating in General Anthropology (3 hours). May be satisfied by at least one of the following:

ANTH 406Archaeological Research Methods3
ANTH 449Laboratory/Field Work in Human Biology1-3
ANTH 462Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology3

4. Five Anthropology Electives (15 hours):

All anthropology courses count toward the required 15 hours of Anthropology major electives. Nine of the 15 hours of electives must be numbered 300 or higher. Students concentrating in General Anthropology should consult with their faculty mentor to select appropriate courses.

B.    Concentration in Archaeology

The Archaeology Concentration allows students to focus their degree on the ways past and present societies are reconstructed through investigations of human, biological, and material remains. Students select a fundamentals and methods course in archaeology and choose electives that provide them an in-depth focus on local or global contexts, concepts, theories, and methods, as well as applications of archaeological approaches and methodological tools. In consultation with their faculty mentor, they may also choose electives from other anthropological subfields that complement their interests.

1. Five required courses for Anthropology Majors concentrating in Archaeology (15 hours):

ANTH 150Becoming Human3
or ANTH 151 Becoming Human, Honors
ANTH 160The Varieties of Human Experience3
or ANTH 162 The Varieties of Human Experience, Honors
ANTH 310Fundamentals of Archaeology3
ANTH 401Integrating Anthropology3
ANTH 406Archaeological Research Methods3


2. Five Anthropology Electives (15 hours):

All anthropology courses may be counted toward the required 15 hours of Anthropology major electives. Nine of the 15 hours of electives must be numbered 300 or higher. Students concentrating in Archaeology may consult with an archaeology faculty mentor to select appropriate courses. Courses within the archaeology topic subfield may also be found here.

C.   Concentration in Biological Anthropology 

The Biological Anthropology Concentration allows students to focus their degree on the origin, maintenance, patterning, and significance of human biological variation, the nature of heredity, and human evolution. Students select a fundamentals and methods course in biological anthropology and choose electives that provide them an in-depth focus on local or global contexts, concepts, theories, and methods, as well as applications of biological anthropology’s approaches and methodological tools. In consultation with their faculty mentor, they may also choose electives from other anthropological subfields that complement their interests.

1. Five required courses for Anthropology Majors concentrating in Biological Anthropology (15 hours):

ANTH 150Becoming Human3
or ANTH 151 Becoming Human, Honors
ANTH 160The Varieties of Human Experience3
or ANTH 162 The Varieties of Human Experience, Honors
ANTH 340Human Variation and Evolution3
ANTH 401Integrating Anthropology3
ANTH 449Laboratory/Field Work in Human Biology1-3

2. Five Anthropology Electives (15 hours):

All anthropology courses may be counted toward the required 15 hours of Anthropology major electives. Nine of the 15 hours of electives must be numbered 300 or higher. Students concentrating in Biological Anthropology may consult with a biological anthropology faculty mentor to select appropriate courses. Courses within the biological topic subfield may also be found here.

D.   Concentration in Sociocultural Anthropology

The Sociocultural Anthropology Concentration allows students to gain an ethnographic perspective on structures of power and inequality, globalization, and cultural difference in diverse locales. Students select a fundamentals and methods course in sociocultural anthropology and choose electives that provide them an in-depth focus on local or global contexts, concepts, theories, and methods, as well as applications of ethnographic approaches and methodological tools. In consultation with their faculty mentor, they may also choose electives from other anthropological subfields that complement their interests.

1. Five required courses for Anthropology Majors concentrating in Sociocultural Anthropology (15 hours):

ANTH 150Becoming Human3
or ANTH 151 Becoming Human, Honors
ANTH 160The Varieties of Human Experience3
or ANTH 162 The Varieties of Human Experience, Honors
ANTH 308Fundamentals of Cultural Anthropology3
ANTH 401Integrating Anthropology3
ANTH 462Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology3

2. Five Anthropology Electives (15 hours):

All anthropology courses may be counted toward the required 15 hours of Anthropology major electives. Nine of the 15 hours of electives must be numbered 300 or higher. Students concentrating in Sociocultural Anthropology may consult with a cultural anthropology faculty mentor to select appropriate courses. Courses within the sociocultural topic subfield may also be found here.

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.