2019-2020 University Catalog 
    May 30, 2024  
2019-2020 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Anthropology Major

Anthropology is the study of human beings in all their complexity. The scope of anthropology is truly global, as it aims to describe and analyze the full diversity of the human experience and cultural creativity across time and space. Anthropology recognizes that human beings are, simultaneously, social actors who create cultures and the products of those cultures. Using a broad array of research methods, including participant-observation and archaeological excavation, anthropologists investigate the historical composition of societies, their transformations, and their contemporary forms. We seek to understand the commonalities and differences in the identities, experiences, discourses, and beliefs of people around the world. We connect the details of people’s everyday lives to large-scale social systems and cultural forces and reveal that seemingly innate or natural differences among human groups are the result of historical, social, and political-economic processes. 

The curriculum integrates classroom and out-of-classroom learning, encouraging students to pursue off-campus study and independent fieldwork or research with collections. As research intensive work is the hallmark of the major, throughout their study of anthropology, students are encouraged to engage in hands-on learning activities: actual anthropological and/or archaeological research, and/or community service learning.

Students in the Classes of 2020 and 2021 can find the previous major requirements in the 2018-2019 University Catalog.


Major Requirements

The anthropology major consists of 9 courses. (See the Sociology and Anthropology  department page for transfer credit limitations.)

Required Courses

Four Electives

  • At least two of these anthropology electives must be at the 300 level.
  • At least 1 of the electives must have a research intensive or RI designation. However, the research intensive component may be satisfied outside of coursework, but not in lieu of an elective. See below for possible RI non-course learning activities.
  • Two courses taken on a Colgate study group or approved program may be counted as electives.

Electives Options:

Research Intensive Courses

“Research Intensive” learning activities that are not attached to courses should be discussed with and approved by a student’s anthropology advisor. For example, cultural anthropologists take seriously the idea of fieldwork and participant observation over an extended period of time, and often in places where one engages significant cultural differences. Therefore, students are encouraged to seek anthropology-approved off-campus study opportunities that may feature: home stays, coursework in a second language, independent research projects, and/or different community service learning opportunities. Students are also encouraged to seek off-campus research opportunities that may involve summer ethnographic or archaeological fieldwork, or work in museum exhibits. All research intensive activities form part of students’ cumulative curricular experience that will prepare them for the senior thesis seminar.

To meet the Research Intensive component, students may seek approval from their anthropology adviser to satisfy this area with one of the following activities:

  • Interning in Colgate’s Longyear Museum of Anthropology during the academic year or summer.

  • Working with faculty on funded summer research projects (subject to department approval)

  • Participating in other off-campus anthropology approved programs that involve opportunities for substantial experiential learning and/or independent research (subject to department approval). See Off-Campus Study for more information.

  • Gaining service learning experience through a summer internship (subject to department approval)

  • Other options as discussed with and approved by the anthropology adviser. We encourage students to work closely with faculty to explore multiple ways of fulfilling this requirement.



To complete the thesis requirement, students must enroll in ANTH 452  in the fall semester of the senior year and must have completed the following requirements: ANTH 102 ANTH 103 ANTH 211  or

 , and the additional Research Intensive component. Students are expected to design substantive research projects grounded in recent anthropological theory and relevant literature on their topics and collect and analyze appropriate ethnographic or cultural data.

GPA Requirement

To qualify for graduation, a minimum GPA of 2.0 is required in all courses counting toward the major.

Honors and High Honors

Majors may qualify for honors in anthropology by achieving at graduation a GPA of 3.50 in all departmental courses and an overall GPA of 3.30, or for high honors by achieving at graduation a GPA of 3.70 in all departmental courses and an overall GPA of 3.30, and submitting a thesis judged by department faculty to be worthy of honors or high honors.

Any student in the junior year who believes he or she will reach the qualifying GPA is strongly encouraged to discuss potential honors or high honors projects with departmental faculty. All seniors will normally enroll in 

  in the fall of their senior year and begin work on a thesis of their own design. To continue to pursue honors or high honors, students must receive at least an A- on the final thesis of the senior seminar. Those students pursuing honors or high honors will significantly revise and expand their seminar theses by enrolling in  , in the spring semester (if a substantial number of students are pursuing honors and high honors in a given year, the group may be organized into a formal honors seminar). They will work with a primary advisor and a secondary reader to complete the project.

Certification of honors and high honors is primarily based on the quality of the thesis and participation in a public defense. To receive honors, a three-person faculty committee must determine that it is strong in each of the following areas: asking and answering a clear anthropological research question, engaging deeply with social theory, collecting and analyzing empirical materials, and writing in a well-organized and professional style. To receive high honors, the committee must determine that the thesis is excellent in each area. Note: ANTH 495 is an additional requirement for students pursuing honors and high honors and cannot be counted as one of the electives required for the major.


Sociology and Anthropology Department

For more information about the department, including Faculty, transfer credit, awards, etc., please visit the Sociology and Anthropology department  catalogue page.