Anthropology Major

The major in anthropology consists of ten courses. 

Required Courses
Core Courses:
ANTH 1100Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human?1
ANTH 2010Anthropological Research: Methods and Ethics in Practice a1
ANTH 2030Anthropological Theory: Concepts in Context1
Select an anthropological archaeology course at the 1000-, 2000-, or 3000-level.1
Select one 3000-level anthropology course.1
Select five anthropology elective courses. b5

Anthropology Minor

The minor in anthropology consists of five courses.

Required Courses
ANTH 1100Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human?1
Select four anthropology elective courses. c4

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • In order for a course to fulfill major or minor requirements, a grade of C- or above must be earned in that course.
  • Courses that count toward the major or minor must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail).
  • First-year writing seminars count toward the major or minor.
  • There is no limit on how many courses a major or minor in anthropology can double-count with another department or program major.
  • Eight of the ten courses required for the major must be Bowdoin anthropology courses. Up to two independent study or honors level courses advised by department faculty may be included in the eight Bowdoin courses required for the major.
  • Majors may count up to two elective courses, with departmental approval, from among off-campus study courses, and/or—with approval by the department chair—other Bowdoin courses in related fields that contribute to the student's specific interests.
  • One of the five courses required for the minor, with department approval, may be from off-campus study.
  • Only two 1000-level courses (1000–1999) may be counted toward the minor.

Independent Study

For the anthropology major program, up to two semesters of intermediate or advanced level independent study or honors courses may be counted. For the anthropology minor program, one semester of intermediate or advanced level independent study may be counted.

Departmental Honors

Students seeking to graduate with honors in anthropology must have distinguished themselves in the major program. Students contemplating honors candidacy should have established records of A and B grades in anthropology courses. To pursue honors, students submit a written proposal early in the first semester of their senior year. Students then prepare an honors project, which ordinarily is a research paper written over the course of two semesters under the mentorship of a faculty advisor. A total of two independent study courses may be counted toward the major requirements in anthropology. Determination of honors is based on grades attained in major courses, an honors project that is approved by the department, and demonstration of the ability to work independently and creatively synthesize theoretical, methodological, archaeological, and/or ethnographic material.

Off-Campus Study

Off-campus study may contribute substantially to a major in anthropology and the department encourages students to consider academic work in another location, cultural context, and/or language. Students are advised to plan study away for their junior year and to complete ANTH 2010 Anthropological Research: Methods and Ethics in Practice—which focuses on research design, methods, and ethics—before studying away. Students must obtain provisional approval for their study-away courses in writing by department faculty before they leave, and then, to receive credit toward their major or minor, students must seek final approval from their advisor upon their return to Bowdoin. With departmental approval, students may count up to two off-campus study courses toward their major requirements and up to one off-campus study course toward their minor requirements. 

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate

For information on credit for International Baccalaureate tests, please see the department. No credit is given for Advanced Placement. In order to receive credit for International Baccalaureate work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin. 

Information for Incoming Students

Anthropology explores the diversity and complexity of humanity in contemporary cultures and in the “deep past.” We integrate the specifics of individual experience, local particularities of landscapes and communities, and broad regional and global contexts to better understand human actions and meanings, including relations of power, identity, and inequality. In our courses in cultural anthropology and anthropological archaeology students learn how to “make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange” through analysis of material, visual, sonic, and textual data.

The Anthropology Department welcomes first-year students into several of our courses. This fall the anthropologists are offering two first-year writing seminars, ANTH 1016 Imagining Futures and ANTH 1022 Fiction and Fraud in Archaeology: Debunking Modern Myths about Ancient Cultures. We also will teach one section of ANTH 1100 Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human?.  Another entry level course being offered is ANTH 2100 Archaeology and the Human Experience. In the spring of 2024, we will teach another section of ANTH 1100 Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human?.  We always save several seats for first-year students in these introductory courses.

None of these courses assume any prior work in anthropology. All of these courses contribute to the major or minor in Anthropology.  We encourage students who may want to take 2000-level Anthropology courses – including courses that fulfill the College’s International Perspectives (IP) or Difference, Power and Inequity (DPI) distribution requirements – to take  ANTH 1100 Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human? as soon as possible. 

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue