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Major in Anthropology

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, the student must meet the requirements for a degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences and the requirements for a major in anthropology. A minor is not required for a B.A. in anthropology.

Please see our courses page for a descriptions of Anthropology courses.

Preparation for the Major

Preparation for the major consists of 9 units:

  • Anthropology 101
  • Anthropology 102
  • Anthropology 103

Requirements for the Major

The major consists of a minimum of 36 upper division units, at least 33 of which are in anthropology, to include:

  • Anthropology 301 (3 units)
  • Anthropology 302 (3 units)
  • Anthropology 303 (3 units)
  • Anthropology 304 (3 units)

One course may be substituted with another upper division anthropology course with consent of the department.

Six units selected from the following “methods” courses:

  • Anthropology 312
  • Anthropology 348
  • Anthropology 355
  • Anthropology 360
  • Anthropology 495
  • Anthropology 505
  • Anthropology 520
  • Anthropology 531
  • Anthropology 532
  • Anthropology 546
  • Anthropology 560
  • Anthropology 561
  • Anthropology 562
  • Anthropology 563
  • Anthropology 564
  • Anthropology 565 
  • Anthropology 483 (with consent of the department)
  • Anthropology 499 (with consent of the department)
  • Anthropology 583 (with consent of the department)

Eighteen additional upper division units, at least 15 of which are in anthropology, one course of the 18 additional upper division units may be selected from one of the following courses (which will also satisfy three units of the General Education requirement in IV.A., B., or C.):

  • American Indian Studies 420
  • Biology 315
  • Biology 326
  • Chicana and Chicano Studies 301
  • Geography 312
  • History 406
  • History 441
  • Philosophy 330
  • Philosophy 332  [or Sustainability 332]
  • Political Science 435
  • Religious Studies 376
  • Sociology 320
  • Sociology 355
  • Women’s Studies 310
  • Women’s Studies 382

GE allows you to explore other fields of study. We endorse that. However, you can streamline your time here at SDSU by using anthropology courses to satisfy some of your GE requirements. With some planning, you can even use these “double counts” to speed up your time to graduation!

“Double counting” only refers to using one course to satisfy both a GE requirement and a major or minor requirement. You cannot “double count” a course for two majors, or between a major and a minor.  

Also, some anthropology Explorations GEs count towards the cultural diversity requirement (see the courses marked by an * below). In those cases, it is possible to “triple count” a course towards a GE requirement, the diversity requirement, and a major/minor requirement.
Finally, there is a specific list of pre-approved courses offered by other departments than can be counted towards the Anthropology Major elective requirement. These courses can also be used to satisfy a GE, so you can “double count” them as well. You are only allowed ONE such course, however, and it must be one of the specific courses listed below.

I. Communication and Critical Thinking (9 units) ​

[CSU Area A - English Language Communication and Critical Thinking]

  • No Anthropology courses

II. and III. Foundations of Learning GEs

A. Natural Sciences and Quantitative Reasoning.​

[CSU Area B - Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning]

Complete one course from each of the following four sections.

1. Physical Sciences​ [CSU subarea B1]

  • No Anthropology courses

2. Life Sciences​ [CSU subarea B2]

  • Anthropology 101. Human Biocultural Origins (3)

3. Laboratory ​[CSU subarea B3]

  • No Anthropology courses
B. Social and Behavioral Sciences.

​[CSU Area D - Social Sciences]

Complete three courses taken from a minimum of two different departments (9 units). Courses that also fulfill the American Institutions requirement are identified below [AI]. Refer to section IV. American Institutions Requirement. No more than six units of AI courses may apply to General Education.

  • Anthropology 102. Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology (3)
  • Anthropology 103. Introduction to Archaeology and World Prehistory (3)
C. Arts and Humanities. ​

Complete at least one course from each area (9 units).

1. Arts: Art, Cinema, Dance, Music, and Theatre  ​[CSU subarea C1]

  • No Anthropology courses

2. Humanities: History, Languages other than English, Literature, Philosophy, Religious Studies​ [CSU subarea C2]

  • No Anthropology courses

III. Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (3 units)

​[CSU Area E]

  • No Anthropology courses

V. Explorations of Human Experience GEs

Courses in this area must not be taken sooner than the semester in which you achieve upper division standing (60 units passed). Nine units of upper division GE courses shall be taken within the California State University (CSU) system. Complete one course each in areas A, B, and C (9 units). ​One course must be a course in cultural diversity, designated by an *.  

A. Natural Sciences. ​Complete one course.

[CSU upper division Area B]

  • Anthropology 355. Exploring Primate Behavior (3)
  • * Anthropology 360. From the Grave: Modern Forensic Anthropology (3)
  • * Anthropology 402. Dynamics of Biocultural Diversity (3)

Non-Anthropology GE courses in Natural Sciences that may also be counted towards the Anthropology elective requirement (note that you are allowed only ONE such external course for the Major):

  • Biology 315. Ecology and Human Impacts on the Environment (3)
  • * Women’s Studies 382. Gender, Science, and Technology (3)
  • Biology 326. Plants, Medicines, and Drugs (3)
B.  Social and Behavioral Sciences. ​

Complete one course. [CSU upper division Area D]

Courses that also fulfill the American Institutions requirement are identified below [AI]. Refer to section IV. American Institutions Requirement. No more than six units of American Institutions courses may apply to General Education.

  • Anthropology 333. Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in the Americas (3) [Same course as Latin American Studies 333]
  • Anthropology 348. Historical Archaeology (3)
  • * Anthropology 350. Cultures Around the Globe (3)
  • * Anthropology 353. Sustainability and Culture (3) [Same as Sustainability 353]
  • * Anthropology 404. Evolution of Human Behavior (3)
  • Anthropology 410. Language in Culture (3)
  • * Anthropology 439. Cultural Comparisons Through Film (3)
  • * Anthropology 440. Mesoamerican Civilization Before the Europeans (3)
  • * Anthropology 442. Cultures of South America (3)
  • * Anthropology 451. American Indian Identity (3) [Same course as American Indian Studies 451]
  • * Anthropology 460. American Indian Languages (3) [Same course as American Indian Studies 460 and Linguistics 460]
  • * American Indian Studies 420. Indian Peoples of California (3)

Non-Anthropology Social and Behavioral GE courses that may also be counted towards the Anthropology elective requirement (note that you are allowed only ONE such external course for the Major):

  • * Chicana and Chicano Studies 301. Political Economy of the Chicano People (3)
  • * Geography 312. Culture Worlds (3)
  • Political Science 435. Power and Poverty in the United States (3)
  • * Sociology 320. Sex and Gender in Contemporary Society (3)
  • * Sociology 355. Minority Group Relations (3)
  • * Women’s Studies 310. Global Cultures and Women’s Lives (3)
C.  Humanities.

​Complete one course. [CSU upper division Area C]

  • * Anthropology 349. Roots of Civilizations (3)
  • * Anthropology 422. Music and Culture (3)
  • * Anthropology 424. The Supernatural in Cross-Cultural Perspective (3) [Same course as Religious Studies 424]

Non-Anthropology Humanities GE courses that may also be counted towards the Anthropology elective requirement (note that you are allowed only ONE such external course for the Major):

  • * History 406. History of Sexuality (3)
  • History 441. Unnatural Disasters: History of Current Environmental Problems (3)
  • Philosophy 330. Biomedical Ethics (3)
  • Philosophy 332. Environmental Ethics (3) [Same course as Sustainability 332]
  • Religious Studies 376. Nature, Spirituality, Ecology (3)
  • Sustainability 332. Environmental Ethics (3) [Same course as Philosophy 332]

What subject areas does Anthropology cover?

Anthropology has four subfields: biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology.

I am currently in another major, but I want to change my major to Anthropology. How do I do that?

Changing majors is a relatively easy process. Please bring a Change of Major/Minor Form to the Anthropology Undergraduate Adviser to sign. You will return the signed form to the Office of the Registrar in SSW 1641. It may take a few weeks to take effect, and any forms filed before the schedule adjustment deadline of the current semester will not go into effect until after that date. You can change your major up to and including the semester in which you plan to graduate, as long as you will have completed all graduation requirements (including requirements for the major) at the end of that semester.

Do I need to have completed all the lower division preparatory courses (ANTH 101, 102, and 103) before I can register for the core upper division courses?

You can register for the Anthropology core upper division courses (ANTH 301, 302, 303, 304) in the same semester that all preparations for the major will be completed. As long as you will have completed all three 100-level preparatory classes and will reach 60 total units by the end of the current semester, you may also concurrently enroll in one of our 300-level core classes.

Do I have to take the core courses (ANTH 301, 302, 303, 304) in order?

You can take the core courses in any sequence. Please be aware that our 500-level courses have a core course as a prerequisite. Please see additional information and policies regarding core courses on the Anthropology Department Homeroom page on Canvas.

Do I need to specialize in a subfield of Anthropology?

The B.A. degree in Anthropology is for the discipline as a whole. While you are required to take classes in all the subfields, you can focus your upper division classes on a particular subfield as much as you like or you can study the various subfields broadly. We encourage you to explore your interests in anthropology and tailor the program to best meet your needs.

Do I need to also declare a minor?

The Anthropology major does not require you to have a minor field of study. You may wish to do so, however, as there are many fields of study that pair well with an Anthropology major. Please feel free to make an appointment with the Anthropology undergraduate adviser to discuss ideas and options for complementary minors.

Do I have to get a particular grade in a course in order for it to count for the major?

The only courses that have grade requirements are ANTH 101, 102 and 103, if you are preparing to become an Anthropology major. You need to earn a C or higher in each of these courses to enter the major. There is no specific grade you need for the Anthropology minor or for upper division courses in the major. However, you need to maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 in several categories in order to qualify for graduation. Please refer to the Grade Point Averages Requirements section of your catalog for further information. 

How can I make changes to my academic program?

The University has a Request for Adjustment to Academic Requirements (RAAR) form that is used to make any changes in your program of courses. It can be used to make any non-standard changes to your academic program (release courses from major to minor, match up study abroad coursework, make course substitutions, etc.). You should make an appointment to see the Anthropology Undergraduate Adviser, who will fill out the form with you.

How can I participate in the ANTH 495 and 499 classes?

ANTH 495 (internship) and 499 (special study) are courses initiated by the student that may fulfill requirements for the Anthropology major or minor. These courses are designed and implemented by students in cooperation with a faculty member. Details for setting up these courses can be found on the Anthropology Homeroom page on Canvas. Download the forms: ANTH 495: Internship (.pdf-- please note this is a fillable form, you must use Adobe Acrobat for the form) and ANTH 499 Special Study (.pdf-- please note this is a fillable form, you must use Adobe Acrobat for the form).

Can I register for a 500-level Anthropology course?

Yes! However, keep in mind that all of our 500-level courses have mandatory prerequisites, often of a specific 300-level course. You are responsible for satisfying all prerequisites, but it is possible to satisfy the prerequisite in the same semester that you are enrolled in the 500-level course. Note that 500-level courses are mixed graduate/undergraduate courses, but there will be different requirements for undergraduate students than for the graduate students in the class. 

I have noticed that the requirements for the major have changed. Do I follow the new requirements or the ones in place when I first became an Anthropology major?

You should follow the requirements that were in place at the time you became an Anthropology major or premajor. If it is not possible to do so (for example, due to specific courses no longer being offered), please meet with the Anthropology Undergraduate Adviser to make adjustments to your academic requirements.

Are there opportunities to become more involved in the Anthropology department as a major or minor?

Yes! One great way to learn more about anthropology, get involved in the department and communities, gain hands-on experience, and prepare for a career in the field is to join and participate in the Association of Anthropology Students. Our club is thriving and always looking for new members.

Are scholarships available for undergraduate students in Anthropology?

Anthropology majors are eligible for a number of competitive internal scholarships here at SDSU, and you may be eligible for other, more general scholarships available from external sponsors. Check the SDSU scholarships website for general opportunities, and search for scholarships related to the major with the SDSU scholarships search tool.


At SDSU, students and faculty confront real-world problems through the practical application of anthropology, promoting an understanding of human diversity and commonality across the globe and throughout time. We accomplish this through our strengths, a holistic four-field approach (archaeological, biological, socio-cultural and linguistic anthropology) and engaging our students in a wide variety of hands-on opportunities, including fieldwork, lab work, and internships.

Learning Goals

PLG 1  Working knowledge of key concepts
Students will have working knowledge of the key concepts and principles employed in anthropology.

PLG 2  Working knowledge of theory
Students will develop a working knowledge of theory in anthropology. This includes key individuals who influenced current anthropological thought, both directly and indirectly, and, when applicable, the technological advancements that helped shape anthropological theory.

PLG 3  Grasp of ethics
Students will understand the ethical issues involved with working with human and nonhuman primate subjects and with material culture.

PLG 4  Skill in data collection and analysis (methods)
Students will demonstrate analytical skills and experience using methods in at least one of the subfields to conduct basic research.

Learning Outcomes

DLO 1  Key Concepts 
Students will be able to: 
Explain and discuss basic concepts in biological anthropology, socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology (the four subfields of the discipline), as well as in applied/practicing anthropology.

DLO 2  Theory 
Students will be able to: 
Discuss contrasting theoretical approaches in biological anthropology, socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology. Analyze and critique relevant literature in anthropology. Use anthropological theories to critically evaluate concepts, research and social phenomena. Think critically about different ways anthropology can be applied to major issues in contemporary society and the student's own life.

DLO 3  Ethics 
Students will be able to: 
Describe and explain the ethics principles of anthropological professional associations as they relate to the work and engagement of anthropologists. Students’ recognition of ethical responsibilities incudes obligations to consultants and the people studied, respecting human diversity, and abiding by the ethical principles of the subfields of the anthropology and in their application.

DLO 4:  Methods 
Students will be able to: 
Explain research methods used by anthropologists, including the collection and analysis of various types of data; use data to construct and communicate coherent arguments.

View the Matrix of Learning Outcomes