BS in Biological Anthropology/MS in Human Paleobiology

A student in the lab holding a tool and examining fossils

The dual Bachelor of Science in Biological Anthropology and Master of Science in Human Paleobiology program allows students to complete the graduate degree on an accelerated timeline by completing nine graduate credits as part of the undergraduate program. 


Application Requirements

Students in the BS in Biological Anthropology degree program may apply to the MS in Human Paleobiology once they have accumulated 60 credits at GW and have consulted with biological anthropology advisors. Applicants must be declared anthropology, archaeology or biological anthropology majors with a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major. Students must also fill out a Combined Degree Credit Form (PDF) specifying the double-counted courses they plan to take and submit it to the director of graduate studies. GRE scores are not required.

Eligible students will apply for formal admission into the BS/MS program, through the CCAS Combined Degree Application process. Students will be recommended for admission to the MS program on the same basis as other applicants for the MS degree, with the final decision being made by the CCAS graduate dean.


Degree Timeline

BS/MS students receive their BS in Biological Anthropology after four years, and are admitted to the MS in Human Paleobiology program with the understanding that nine credits of graduate coursework taken during their senior year will double-count towards the BS degree. This schedule leaves another 27 credits following the end of the student’s senior year to complete the MS degree. The remaining 27 credits for the MS degree normally will be taken during the summer after the senior year (six credits of coursework or field or laboratory research), plus two additional semesters with the normal full-time MS student load of nine credits per semester. Students will therefore be able to complete the BS/MS dual degree with one year of full-time study beyond the BS degree.

Sample Schedule

Fall (15 hours)

  • Two upper-level biological anthropology and palaeolithic archaeology electives (ANTH 3400-3499)
  • Upper-level elective in anthropology (not biological or paleoarchaeology)
    • ANTH  2000 or above, but not including courses in the 3400-3499 or the 3802 or 3832 range
  • Upper-level BISC elective organismal, evolutionary or ecological biology 
  • 1 elective/GPAC course 
  • Apply for admission to BS/MS before Feb 15 of academic year

Spring (15 hours)

  • Upper-level elective in biological anthropology/paleoarchaeology (ANTH 3400-3499 and 3800-3899)
  • Upper-level elective in biological sciences, cell and molecular biology (BISC 22## and 32### course numbers)
  • Upper-level anthropology class (ANTH 2000 and above, excluding 3400-3499)
  • Additional science or math or statistics class
  • 1 elective/GPAC course/or research credits


Fall (15 hours, including 3 for undergraduate/graduate credit)

  • 4 upper-level electives in biological anthropology and/or in biological sciences, including one graduate course for combined graduate/undergraduate credit
  • 3 hours research or thesis credits

Spring (15 hours, including 6 for undergraduate/graduate credit)

  • 3 electives in biological anthropology and/or biological sciences, or another science -- should include one graduate course for combined graduate/undergraduate credit
  • Elective or research/thesis credits
  • First graduate core class in hominin paleobiology, paleolithic archaeology, genetics or primatology

Summer After Senior Year (nine hours)

  • Anth 6995, graduate research

In limited circumstances, students may be able to take upper-level undergraduate courses (3000-level courses) for graduate credit, but this must first be approved by the Director of Graduate Study and the Course Instructor prior to registration.

Fall (nine hours)

  • Second core class in biological anthropology
  • Two electives (could include three hours thesis research /internship)

Spring (9 hours)

  • Third core class in biological anthropology
  • Two electives (could include 3 hours thesis research/internship)
  • Submit approved thesis in May or August


Course Requirements

Students take nine graduate credits as part of their undergraduate program. All requirements for both the BS in Biological Anthropology and the MS in Human Paleobiology must be fulfilled. 


BS Requirements


The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

Program-specific curriculum:

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 51 credits, including 21 credits in introductory courses and 40 additional credits in required courses for the major.

Required introductory courses
21 credits in introductory courses
ANTH 1001Biological Anthropology
ANTH 1002Sociocultural Anthropology
or ANTH 1002W Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 1003Archaeology
ANTH 1004Language in Culture and Society
BISC 1111Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
BISC 1112Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
Additional required courses for the major
12 credits in courses selected from the following:
ANTH 2406Human Evolutionary Genetics
ANTH 3401Human Functional Anatomy
ANTH 3402Human Evolutionary Anatomy
ANTH 3403Forensic Anthropology Laboratory
ANTH 3404Human Variation
ANTH 3406Advanced Human Osteology
ANTH 3407Conservation in a Changing World: Human and Animal Behavior
ANTH 3408The Evolution of Human Families
ANTH 3409Evolution of Primate Life Histories
ANTH 3411Primatology
ANTH 3412Hominin Evolution
or ANTH 3412W Hominin Evolution
ANTH 3413Evolution of the Human Brain
ANTH 3491Topics in Biological Anthropology
ANTH 3802Human Cultural Beginnings
or ANTH 3802W Human Cultural Beginnings
ANTH 3832Paleoanthropological Field Program
9 credits in biology (BISC) courses numbered 2000 or above, including at least one course from each of the following three categories:
Cell/molecular biology
BISC 2202Cell Biology
BISC 2207Genetics
BISC 2208Genetics Laboratory
BISC 2213Biology of Cancer
BISC 2214Developmental Biology
BISC 2220Developmental Neurobiology
BISC 3209Molecular Biology
BISC 3210Nanobiotechnology
BISC 3211Nanobiotechnology Laboratory
BISC 3212Immunology
BISC 3261Introductory Medical Biochemistry
BISC 3262Biochemistry Laboratory
BISC 3263Special Topics in Biochemistry
Organismal/sub-organismal biology
BISC 2320Neural Circuits and Behavior
BISC 2332Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
BISC 2333Evolution and Extinction of Dinosaurs
BISC 2334WIntegrative Biology of Fishes
BISC 2337Introductory Microbiology Laboratory
or BISC 2337W Introductory Microbiology
BISC 2339Parasitology
BISC 3122Human Physiology
BISC 3320Human Neurobiology
BISC 2581Human Gross Anatomy
BISC 2450Organic Evolution
BISC 2451History of Life
BISC 2452Animal Behavior
BISC 2454General Ecology
BISC 3458Plant Comparative Structure and Function
BISC 3460Conservation Biology
BISC 3461Plant-Animal Interactions
BISC 3462Plant-Animal Interactions Laboratory
BISC 3463Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics
BISC 3464Ecology and Evolution of Societies
One course selected from the following:
CHEM 1111General Chemistry I
CHEM 1112General Chemistry II
CHEM 2085Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 3140Geochemistry
or GEOL 3140 Geochemistry
CHEM 3165Biochemistry I
CHEM 3166Biochemistry II
PSYC 2014Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 2015Biological Psychology
PSYC 3112Psychology of Adolescence
PSYC 3118Neuropsychology
BISC 1005The Biology of Nutrition and Health
or BISC 1007 Food, Nutrition, and Service
BISC 1006The Ecology and Evolution of Organisms
or BISC 1008 Understanding Organisms through Service Learning
GEOL 1001Physical Geology
GEOL 1002Historical Geology
GEOL 1005Environmental Geology
STAT 1127Statistics for the Biological Sciences
6 credits in anthropology (ANTH) courses numbered 2000 and above, excluding courses in the 3400 range, ANTH 3802, and ANTH 3832.

Note: The major in biological anthropology cannot be pursued in conjunction with the major in anthropology.

MS Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

36 credits in a program developed in consultation with the advisor.

Core courses
HOMP 6202Lab Techniques: Paleoanthropology *
HOMP 6203Ethics and Professional Practice I
ANTH 6413Analytical Methods in Human Evolutionary Studies
At least one paleobiology core course selected from the following:
HOMP 6201Hominid Paleobiology
ANTH 6801Paleolithic Archaeology
or HOMP 6201 Hominid Paleobiology
At least one modern biology core course selected from the following:
ANTH 6403Primate Behavior
ANTH 6404The Evolution of Primate Life Histories
ANTH 6407Anthropological Genetics
ANTH 6423Evolution of the Human Brain
17 to 19 credits in elective courses. Courses should be selected in consultation with the faculty advisor, and may include a combination of the following: independent laboratory or field-based research; a field course; relevant courses in Anatomy, Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Geography, Geology, Human Paleobiology, Psychology, and Speech, Language, and Hearing Science available at GW; and/or relevant courses from the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.
HOMP 6999Thesis Research (taken for 6 credits)

*In order to maintain a 9-credit per semester courseload, students register for 1 to 3 credits in HOMP 6202, depending on the number of credits taken in the other courses for which they are concurrently enrolled.