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College of Letters and Science


Requirements for the Major
Honors in the Major
Distinction in the Major
Certificate in Archaeology

5240 William H. Sewell Social Science Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-2866; www.anthropology.wisc.edu

Professors Bowie, Bunn, George, Kenoyer, Lepowsky, Narayan, Ohnuki-Tierney, Schroeder, Strier, Zhou; Associate Professors Hawks, Nesper, Pickering, Wendland; Assistant Professors Clayton, Kim

Undergraduate advisor in the major: Contact department, 608-262-2866

Faculty diversity liaison: Contact department, 608-262-2866

Anthropology is the comparative study of human diversity through time and across the world. Its scope spans the humanities, the social sciences, and the biological, physical, and evolutionary sciences. As a history of the human species, anthropology studies all human biological and behavioral variation from the earliest fossil records to the present; it includes the study of nonhuman primates as well. As a social science, anthropology aims at uncovering the patterns of past and present societies. As one of the humanities, anthropology seeks to understand the ways cultural meaning and political power have shaped human experience.

At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, anthropology consists of three subfields: archaeology—the investigation and analysis of the remains from past cultures, uncovered through excavation; biological anthropology—the study of human evolution and the roots of the biological and genetic diversity found among contemporary peoples; and sociocultural anthropology—the comparative study of society, politics, economy, and culture, whether in historical times or in our contemporary moment. UW–Madison also offers some classes in anthropological linguistics—the analysis of language and its place in social life. Comparative and empirical work—and fieldwork in particular—are the hallmarks of anthropology on this campus.

Thus, anthropology at UW–Madison is characterized by a comparative point of view, a focus on humans and societies in all their variation and similarity, and an effort to reveal and understand the complex but organized diversity that has shaped the human condition, past and present.

Requirements for the Major

105 Introduction to Human Biology, 3 cr
300 Cultural Anthropology, 3 cr
490 Undergraduate Seminar, 3 cr

Majors must also take two of the following three archaeology courses:
212 Principles of Archaeology, 3 cr (112 prior to spring 2016)
321 The Emergence of Human Culture, 3 cr
322 The Origins of Civilization, 3 cr

A minimum of 30 credits within the department is required, including 105, 300, 490, and two courses from the following: 212 (112 prior to spring 2016), 321, or 322. No more than 40 credits may be taken as part of the major. Undergraduates may substitute a graduate seminar for Anthropology 490 only if they have permission of the instructor, permission of an L&S academic dean, and a GPA of 3.5 or better. If advanced degree study is planned, additional courses in related fields should be discussed with an advisor in the department.

All students must fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Courses 300 and above can be counted toward this requirement, with the exception of elementary Quechua and Yucatec Maya language courses (361, 362, 366, 376, 377).

By arrangement with a supervising professor, certain upper-group students may substitute a thesis for 4 of the above required credits, to be written in biological anthropology, archaeology, or sociocultural anthropology.

Students wishing to declare an anthropology major should go to the Department of Anthropology, 5240 William H. Sewell Social Science Building.

Students planning to go on to graduate-level study should talk to their advisor about foreign languages, field experience, or other training needed for advanced anthropological research.

Honors in the Major

Honors students must complete 105, 300, 490 and two of the following: 212 (112 prior to spring 2016), 321, 322. In addition, honors students must complete 3 credits in honors courses in each section of anthropology (biological, archaeological, and cultural), as well as take an additional 490 seminar or one seminar at the 600 or (with consent of instructor and advisor) 900 level, and a Senior Honors Thesis (681/682). Students must earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.3 in courses taken in the major and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.

Distinction in the Major

Undergraduate students who are not enrolled in the honors program are eligible to be recommended by their advisor to the department to receive Distinction in the Major if they have maintained a 3.5 GPA in their major and have written an exceptional senior thesis or an exceptional paper in an undergraduate seminar, graduate seminar, or independent study.

Certificate in Archaeology

The mission of the certificate is to provide students with a global perspective of archaeology and of human culture. Through the certificate program, students gain an understanding of archaeology in its broadest sense. They explore the origins of subsistence strategies, trade, technology, ideology, and conflict still present in the modern global environment, as well as the ever-changing economic and political climate. Archaeology at UW Madison is truly an interdisciplinary endeavor. The certificate offers a linkage among courses in several departments and stimulates students to think about similar topics from different academic and theoretical perspectives.

The certificate requires 21 credits of coursework:

  • Introductory courses, 3 cr (such as Anthro 102, 212 [112 prior to spring 2016])
  • Area courses, 6 cr
  • Topics courses, 6 cr
  • Field courses, 3 cr
  • Capstone seminar in archaeology, 3 cr

The 21 credits must be distributed among at least three of the following departments: anthropology, art history, classics, geography, geology and geophysics, Hebrew and Semitic studies, history, and zoology.

For additional information about the certificate, and for a list of courses, see the anthropology website.

This page was revised 1/26/16.