B.S. in Biological Anthropology

The department offers extensive coursework in biological anthropology at undergraduate and graduate levels. The undergraduate B.S. degree in Biological Anthropology emphasizes coursework on human evolution, human anatomy, and primatology and provides an excellent basis for future training in medicine and related areas. Our affiliated doctoral program in Human Paleobiology is one of the finest biological anthropology research and teaching groups in the world.

The George Washington University has always had a strong focus in biological (physical) anthropology, supported by close connections with the Smithsonian. Because of its emphasis on the sciences, students in this major will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Anthropology. Compared to the general Anthropology major, the B.S. in Biological Anthropology requires fewer second-group anthropology courses (2000s-3000s), additional science training, and a greater focus on the biological aspects of anthropology. There is no language requirement outside the General Curriculum Requirements.

Students may not double-major in Anthropology and Biological Anthropology; they may double-major in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology, but second-group courses cannot count towards both majors.


Program Requirements

Go to the Anthropology course descriptions.

Go to the Biological Sciences course descriptions.


Special Honors in Biological Anthropology

Students who meet the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences requirements for special honors are encouraged to undertake a thesis research project in their senior year. Such students should take 3 or more hours of Anth 3995 (Undergraduate Research).


Minor in Biological Anthropology

For information on the minor program in Biological Anthropology, click here.


What can you do with a Biological Anthropology major?

While the subject matter of a Biological Anthropology degree guarantees to engage students intellectually, it also leaves them well-poised for their next career steps. A B.S. in Biological Anthropology opens doors in both academic and applied fields since students obtain a solid background in scientific analyses, anatomy, and human behavior.

Academic jobs allow students to contribute to biological anthropology research directly. Biological anthropologists work in a range of academic settings, including universities and museums. Some students may further decide to pursue a graduate degree in Biological Anthropology in order lead a research team themselves. Our faculty are available to mentor students as they navigate the graduate program application process.

The strong foundation in science and anatomy leaves our students well-positioned for other careers as well. Our students often draw from their scientific and anatomical background to pursue careers in medicine, public health, and psychology. Understanding of the evolution of humans also lends itself to careers further afield; a better grasp of human behavior is an invaluable skill, whether you are in a courtroom or boardroom.


Courses Offered


Undergraduate Advisors

View the advisors for our major and minor programs.

View the Anthropology Department office hours.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

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

Program-specific curriculum:

Introductory courses (21 credits):
ANTH 1001Biological Anthropology
ANTH 1002Sociocultural Anthropology
or ANTH 1002W Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 1003Archaeology
ANTH 1004Language in Culture and Society
BISC 1115
BISC 1125
Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
and Introduction to Cells and Molecules Laboratory *
BISC 1116
BISC 1126
Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
and Introduction to Organisms Laboratory
12 credits 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 of biology (BISC) courses numbered 2000 or above, including at least one course from each of the following 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 2318Histology
BISC 2320Neural Circuits and Behavior
BISC 2322Human Physiology
or BISC 2322W Human Physiology
BISC 2330Invertebrate Zoology
BISC 2332Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
BISC 2333Evolution and Extinction of Dinosaurs
BISC 2334WIntegrative Biology of Fishes
BISC 2337Introductory Microbiology
or BISC 2337W Introductory Microbiology
BISC 2339Parasitology
BISC 3320Human Neurobiology
BISC 3321Comparative Endocrinology
BISC 3325Environmental Physiology
Ecology/evolution
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 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
or GEOL 1005 Environmental Geology
GEOL 1002Historical Geology
STAT 1127Statistics for the Biological Sciences
6 credits of anthropology (ANTH) courses numbered 2000 or above but not including courses in the 3400--3499 or the 3802 or 3832 range

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

*Honors Program students and those who have been invited to join the Scholars in Quantitative and Natural Sciences (SQNS) Program take BISC 1120 instead of BISC 1125 for the lab component.