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Anthropology Major

Anthropology Major

“The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.” 


Requirements for Major

These requirements were updated in Spring 2019.  Students who declared prior to the changes can proceed according to their prior plan or in accord with these new requirements.  All should find the new requirements more flexible and less cumbersome.

Eleven courses (33 credits) taken within a program approved by a departmental undergraduate advisor are required for a major. These eleven courses may include courses taken before declaration of the major, and up to two from outside the Department of Anthropology. Courses taken outside the anthropology department, including courses transferred from other institutions or study-abroad programs, may count toward the area requirements for the major.  These credits are subject to approval by a major advisor.  The maximum number of credits is limited to six and a minimum of three is typically approved. In order to declare a major, a student must have completed one anthropology course.

Grades lower than C- (in anthropology) will not count toward the major. No course for the major may be taken on a CR/NC basis. Normally at least 18 credits must be taken after declaration of the major. The major requires a distribution of courses in the following areas: 

  1. Two of the following three anthropological foundations courses: 1010, 3010, and/or 3020; The faculty recommends that students take all three, but they must take two.Students interested in pursuing the DMP should take both 3010 and 3020.
  2. One course at the 2000-level (or above) in each of these areas within anthropology: socio-cultural anthropology; archaeology; and linguistics;
  3. All anthropology majors gain experience in doing a research project leading to a significant paper or other major work that can later be used in their applications for graduate school, internships, fellowships, and jobs. Students may complete this task in one of the following ways:
    • Majors seminars in anthropology. These 4000-level courses should ideally be taken in the student’s 3rd year.  They all fulfill the SWR, and major and minors will have priority at enrollment.
    • Well prepared students may consider taking an appropriate 5000-level course to fulfill this requirement in consultation with the seminar instructor and their advisor
  4. At least three courses at or above the 3000 level, in addition to 3010 and/or 3020 and 4591; These courses must be taken in the Department of Anthropology at University of Virginia.

Each semester, the department publishes a list of the current courses that satisfy the above requirements on its website.

Students frequently find that anthropology provides a cognate discipline which can be paired with other studies in the humanities and sciences. Many of these students choose to double-major in anthropology and another discipline. Up to six credits in another department major may be counted toward an anthropology major if they are consistent with a student’s overall program. Specific courses, therefore, may be counted toward both majors, but the student must receive approval from a departmental advisor in advance.

Exceptions to any of these requirements are made only upon written petition to the Undergraduate Committee of the Department of Anthropology. No petitions are accepted after the completion of a student’s seventh semester.

A number of informal activities are associated with the department. Among these is the Virginia Anthropology Society of the University of Virginia. Majors are encouraged to attend meetings of the group and to attend lectures and symposia sponsored by the department.

B.A. in Anthropology with a Specialist Concentration

Students who major in anthropology have the option to work toward one of four specialized concentrations within the major, which will appear on their University transcript. To complete a concentration, students must complete all other requirements for the major, and also fulfill the specific concentration requirements as listed below. A student may choose to specialize in only one concentration.

Specific classes that can be counted toward each concentration can be found in the Appendix below, and on the Department website. Students should consult with concentration faculty when choosing courses, as these lists will be updated periodically, and not all classes will be offered in every semester. When selecting Concentration courses, students should keep in mind that a total maximum of only two courses (6 credits) from beyond Anthropology (courses with other than an ANTH prefix) can be counted toward the Anthropology major.  To declare a concentration, students should meet with the faculty advisor for that concentration. Contact information can be found on the Department website, or from the Director of Undergraduate Programs in Anthropology.

The three concentrations are as follows:

B.A. in Anthropology with Concentration in Culture and Communication

The Culture and Communication concentration in Anthropology offers students a program of study focused on communicative practices across a diversity of world cultures, modalities of embodied discourse, and the technologically mediated channels that increasingly connect people around the globe. Work in this area ranges from the micro-scale of everyday dialogue to the transnational scale of commerce, migrations, politics, and development. The program prepares students to bring critical thinking and holistic conceptual tools to an increasingly globalized workplace, where communicative practices vary across almost every conceivable dimension and where attention to relative cultural differences can mean the difference between communication and miscommunication, justice and injustice, and even life and death. Culture and Communication introduces students to theoretical approaches from linguistic anthropology, cognitive anthropology, and other anthropological subfields, and builds on interdisciplinary ties that include sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, conversation analysis, exchange theory, art, media, and mediated discourse analysis, preparing students to understand the impact of differing modes of expression, cultural styles, and interactional genres on the accomplishment of group tasks, the creation of human connections, and the building of a globally interconnected world.


  1. Fulfill all non-elective requirements for the B.A. in Anthropology, including the Linguistic Anthropology distribution requirement.
  2. When choosing electives toward your Anthropology major, include a total of four, as follows:
  • 2-4 classes from Culture and Communication Concentration Course List A
  • up to 2 classes from Culture and Communication Course List B

See List Below

B.A. in Anthropology with Concentration in Indigenous Worlds

Students in this concentration will be exposed to ethnographic studies and anthropological theories devoted to “the Indigenous.” For anthropologists, this term commonly refers to the knowledges and worldviews of the many peoples who are our disciplinary interlocutors around the globe. In American contexts, “indigenous” usually refers to First Peoples of the Western hemisphere, and includes Native American Studies. At the transnational scale, indigenous peoples’ movements are political realities, converging at sites like the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the World Conservation Congress. This concentration takes an unbounded approach, engaging with all of these perspectives and scales, and many others, without reducing “the Indigenous” to any of them. Students will be given the opportunity to engage with the vast array of possibilities for being human, studying for example both colonial-era encounters, and contemporary indigenous relationships to issues such as sustainable livelihoods, public health, and environmental care. This concentration offers unique opportunities for interdisciplinary learning across two areas of distinction at UVA: Indigenous arts and curation, and the environmental humanities.


  1. Fulfill all non-elective requirements for the B.A. in Anthropology.
  2. when choosing electives toward your Anthropology major, include the following:
    • 3 classes from Indigenous Worlds Concentration Course List A
    • 2 classes from Indigenous Worlds Concentration Course List B

BA in Anthropology with a Concentration in Medical Anthropology, Ethics, and Care

Students in this concentration will study a diverse range of factors that impact the body, and the ways that people understand, experience, and respond to states of health and illness.  Students will critically examine the complex ethical orientations that shape the manners in which people care for or abandon one another in various conditions of exposure, vulnerability, and well-being.  Anthropological knowledge and practice offer a unique resource for questioning our own assumptions on these and other matters. Students in this concentration will use such knowledge to address some of the most difficult problems we face today, and in so doing, help create the world anew.  


  1. Fulfill all non-elective requirements for the B.A. in Anthropology
  2. When choosing electives toward your Anthropology major, include the following:
  • ANTH 2280 Medical Anthropology
  • 4 additional courses chosen from the Medical Anthropology Concentration Course List

Note:  Majors seminar on appropriate topics can, in most cases, count towards the concentration electives.  Further, with the exception of the Concentration in Culture and Communication requirement that students take the concentration elections in addition to their linguistics distribution requirement, students may use concentration courses towards the distribution requirements as needed. 

Independent Study in Anthropology

For students who want to work on an individual research project, ANTH 4993 allows considerable flexibility. There is no formal limitation on the kind of project as long as a faculty member is willing to direct it, but the project should not duplicate what is already available in a regular course. Applicants should have their projects roughly defined when they apply to the faculty member. The normal requirements for ANTH 4993 are a reading list comparable in substance to those in regular courses and a term paper and oral examination at the end of the semester.

Distinguished Majors Program in Anthropology

Students with superior academic performance are encouraged to apply for the departmental Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in which they write a thesis demonstrating independent study of high quality. The requirements for admission to the DMP are:

  1. satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in this Record with a GPA of at least 3.25 in all university courses;
  2. a GPA of at least 3.400 in all courses taken as part of the anthropology major;
  3. completion of both 3010 and 3020;
  4. seeks permission of an advisor, who may be any member of the departmental faculty that is willing to take on the responsibility of supervising the thesis and is normally someone to whom the students have already demonstrated their ability in an upper-level course;
  5. applies for admission (normally in the spring semester of the Third Year) to the Director of the Program, by declaring their DMP graduation year (and semester), and by including their relevant course transcripts showing their two cumulative GPAs, along with the selected thesis topic, and the names of the primary and second faculty thesis advisors.

On admission, student registers with the primary faculty advisor for ANTH 4998 in the first semester of the Program, and for ANTH 4999 in the second semester for revising and finalizing the thesis in consultation with the two faculty readers. A DMP thesis involving field research on human subjects requires the University’s IRB Approval. This should be acquired before beginning the fieldwork, with the help of the primary faculty advisor.

In the final semester of the Program, the student takes into account the criticisms and suggestions of the two advisors and other interested faculty members, and submits a finished thesis of approximately 10,000 words to the two advisors three weeks before the Grades Due date for the semester. For regular Spring Graduation, the thesis is to be submitted by April 15. The level of distinction awarded in a thesis is approved by both the faculty advisors.

At the end of the spring semester each year, an oral Presentation of all DMP theses will be held in Brooks Hall Commons. Each Distinguished Major and his/her committee members will be present. Theses Presentations will be open to the public. Friends and faculty are invited.

Any prospective and current DMP students wishing help in entering, setting up or conducting their Program should contact their major advisor.


Course Descriptions

Courses at the 1000 and 2000 levels have no prerequisites and are open to all students. Courses at the 3000 and 4000 level are advanced undergraduate courses and often assume that students have already taken ANTH 1010 or other relevant 2000-level courses. These are general prerequisites and individual professors may consider other courses within or outside the department to be sufficient preparation. Courses at the 5000 level have third- or fourth-year status and prior course work in anthropology as a general prerequisite. These courses are designed primarily for majors and graduate students, but are open by permission to other qualified, sufficiently motivated undergraduates.

General and Theoretical Anthropology

Principles of Sociocultural Analysis

Linguistic Anthropology


Independent Study and Research



Culture and Communication Concentration Course List A

ANTH 2365 Art and Anthropology

 ANTH 2400       Language and Culture

   ANTH 2410     Sociolinguistics

   ANTH 2415     Language in Human Evolution

   ANTH 2420     Language and Gender

   ANTH 2430     Languages of the World

   ANTH/MDST 2440       Language and Cinema

   ANTH/MEST 2470       Reflections of Exile: Jewish Languages and their Communities

   ANTH 2660     The Internet is Another Country

   ANTH 3170     The Anthropology of Media

   ANTH 3171     Culture and Cyberspace

   ANTH 3175     Native American Art

   ANTH 3440     Language and Emotion

   ANTH 3450     Native American Languages

   ANTH 3455     African Languages

   ANTH/MEST 3470       Language and Culture in the Middle East

   ANTH 3480     Language and Prehistory

   ANTH 3490     Language and Thought

   ANTH 3680     Australian Aboriginal Art and Culture

   ANTH 5190     Science and Culture

   ANTH 5425     Language Contact

   ANTH 5470     Language and Identity

   ANTH 5475     Multimodal Interaction

   ANTH 5480     Literacy and Orality

   ANTH 5485     Discourse Analysis

   ANTH 5490     Speech Play and Verbal Art

   ANTH 5495     Discourse Prosody

   AMST 2460     Language in the US

   ASL 3450        Comparative Linguistics: ASL and English

   EDHS 4300     Psycholinguistics and Communication

   LNGS 2220      History and Structure of Black English

   LNGS 2240      Southern American English

   MDST 3140     Mass Media and American Politics

   MDST 3300     Global Media

   MDST 3701     New Media Culture

   MDST 4704     Political Economy of Communication

   SPAN 4202     Hispanic Sociolinguistics


Culture and Communication Course List B

ANTH 2850       American Material Culture

 ANTH 3070       Introduction to Musical Ethnography

 ANTH 3272       The Anthropology of Dissent

  ANTH 3340      Ecology and Society

  ANTH 3370      Power and The Body

  ANTH 4420      Theories of Language

  ANTH 5220      Economic Anthropology

  ANTH 5401      Linguistic Field Methods

  ANTH 5410      Phonology

  ANTH 5440      Morphology

  ANTH 2541/3541/5541  Topics in Linguistics

  ANTH 5549      Topics in Theoretical Linguistics and Linguistic Anthropology

  ASL 4750         Topics in Deaf Studies

  CLASS Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics

  DRAM 2070     Public Speaking

  EDHS 4030      Speech and Hearing Science

  ENAM 2850     Folklore in America

  ENMD 5010     Introduction to Old English

  FREN 3030      Phonetics: The Sounds of French

  FREN 4020      History of the French Language in its Social and Cultural Context

  FREN 4035      Tools and Techniques of Translation

  LING 3400       Structure of English

  LING 5409       Acoustic Phonetics

  LNGS 3250      Introduction to Linguistic Theory and Analysis

  LNGS 5000      Linguistic Principles in Language Pedagogy

  PHIL 3630        Philosophy of Language

  PSYC 3110       Psychology of Language

  PSYC 4112       Psychology and Deaf People

  PSYC 4115       Multiculturalism in the Deaf Community

  PSYC 4120       Psychology of Reading

  PSYC 5355       Neurobiology of Speech and Language

  RUSS 5030       Advanced Russian Grammar: Phonology and Morphology

  RUSS 5032       Advanced Russian Grammar: Syntax

  SPAN 3000      Phonetics (Spanish Phonetics)

  SPAN 4201      Hispanic Dialectology and Bilingualism

  SPAN 4203      Structure of Spanish

  SPAN 4210      History of the Spanish Language

  WGS/ASL 2300            Women and Gender in the Deaf World


Indigenous Worlds Concentration Course List A

AMST 2233       Contemporary Native American Literature

AMST 3641       Native America

AMST 2231       Native Americans in Popular Culture

ANTH 1050       Anthropology of Globalization

ANTH 2120       The Culture Concept

ANTH 2250       Nationalism, Racism, and Multi-Culturalism

ANTH 2153       North American Indians

ANTH 2365       Art & Anthropology

ANTH 3152       Amazonian Peoples

ANTH 3450       Native American Languages

ANTH 3680       Anthropology of Australian Aboriginal Art

ANTH 5885       Archaeology of Colonialism

ANTH 9545       History, Modernity, Indigeneity

HIAF 3112         African Environmental History

HIST 3641         Native America

HIST 7021         Comparative Cultural Encounters in North America (1492-1800)

MDST 4301       Global Indigenous Media


Indigenous Worlds Concentration Course List B

AMST 2420       Cultural Landscapes in the United States

ANTH 3340       Ecology and Society

ANTH 3380       The Nature of Nature

ANTH 3385       The Archeology of Europe

ANTH 3880       Archaeology of Africa

ANTH 3480       Language and Prehistory

ANTH 3490       Language and Thought

ANTH 5470       Language and Identity

ANTH 5475       Multi-Modal Interaction

ANTH 5220       Economic Anthropology

ANTH 5425       Language Contact

ANTH 5528       Topics in Race Theory

ARTH 1505        Art and Money

ARTH 4591        University Museum Internships

GSGS 3112        Ecology and Globalization in the Age of European Expansion

HILA 2001         Colonial Latin America

HIST 2112         Maps in World History

HIST 3011         Colonial Period in North America

MDST 3407       Racial Borders and American Cinema

MDST 3650       Shooting the Western

RELG 2210        Religion, Ethics, and Global Environments

RELG 3360        Conquest and Religions in the Americas, (1400s-1830s)


Medical Anthropology Concentration Course List

ANTH 2340       Anthropology of Birth and Death

ANTH 2375       Disaster

ANTH 2270       Race, Gender, And Medical Science

ANTH 2345       Anthropology of Reproduction: Fertility and The Future

ANTH 2340:      Anthropology of Birth and Death

ANTH 2285       Saving the World? Development and Humanitarianism

ANTH 3290       Biopolitics

ANTH 3130       Disease, Epidemics and Society

ANTH 3129:      Marriage, Mortality, Fertility

ANTH 3240       The Anthropology of Food

ANTH 3370       Power and The Body

ANTH 3440       Language and Emotion

ANTH 3600       Sex, Gender, And Culture

ANTH 3300       Tournaments and Athletes

ANTH 4991-001 Anthropology, Violence, And, Human Rights

ANTH 5190       Science and Culture

ANTH 5360       World Mental Health

ANTH 5528       Topics in Race Theory

ANTH 5240       Relational Ethics

BIOL 4660         How Do They Do It? Method and Logic in Biomedical Science

BIOL 3090         Our World of Infectious Disease

ENSP 3610        Narratives of Illness and Doctoring Marcia Childress 

HIEU 3321         Scientific Revolution 1450-1700

HIST 2150          Global Environmental History

MDST 3306       Sexuality, Gender, Class and Race in the Teen Film 

MDST 3409       LGBTQ Issues in the Media 

MDST 4108       Media, Drugs, and Violence in Latin America 

PHIL 1740         Issues of Life and Death 

PHIL 3651         Genes, Nature and Justice

PHIL 3780         Reproductive Ethics 

RELG 2650        Theological Bioethics 

SOC 2498          Prozac Culture 

SOC 3700          Health and Society 

SOC 4740          Sociol Persp on Trauma, Atrocity, & Responsibility 

WGS 2848         Reproductive Technology