BS in Biological Anthropology/MA in Anthropology

Student in lab coat reach into refrigerator for samples

The dual Bachelor of Science in Biological Anthropology/Master of Arts in Anthropology program allows students to complete the graduate degree on an accelerated timeline by completing 9 graduate credits as part of the undergraduate program. Students build on the foundation of the biological anthropology major with graduate-level work in topics like Medical Anthropology, Preventive Conservation Techniques, Gender and Sexuality and more.

Students are advised to consult their departmental advisor regarding the details of the degrees and course of study.


Application Requirements

Eligible students will apply for formal admission into the BS/MA program by February 15, through the CCAS Combined Degree Application process. Students will be recommended for admission to the MA program on the same basis as other applicants for the degree, with the final decision being made by the CCAS graduate dean.


Degree Timeline

Combined degree students are admitted to the master's program with the understanding that during their undergraduate program, they will complete 9 credits of master's coursework, which also count toward the bachelor's degree. 

This leaves 27 credits left to finish out their 36-credit master's degree. Most students complete six credits over the summer, nine credits in the fall semester and nine credits in the final spring semester, totaling one calendar year beyond the bachelor's degree. During that year, they are officially graduate students and eligible for consideration as teaching assistants or graders.

Sample BS in Biological Anthropology/MA in Anthropology Schedule

  • ANTH 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004 (13 hours)
  • BISC 1111, 1112 (8 hours)
  • Upper-level bio in organismal/sub-organismal biology (BISC) (3hours)
  • PSYC 2015 (or any other option in the major requirements in this section)
  • GPAC and University Writing

Fall (15 hours)

  • Upper-level archaeology (ANTH)
  • Upper-level biological anthropology (ANTH)
  • Upper-level biology course in Cell/molecular bio (BISC)
  • Two electives/ GPAC courses

Spring (15 hours)

  • Upper-level Biological Anthropology (ANTH)
  • Upper-level archaeology (can also be obtained in a study abroad program)
  • Upper-level biology course in Ecology/Evolution (BISC)
  • One electives/ GPAC courses
  • Apply to the BA/MA

Fall (15 hours)

  • Graduate seminar (e.g., Anth 6302)
  • Four electives, including either a second graduate-level course or an upper-level undergraduate course for graduate credit

Spring (15 hours)

  • Methods course (e.g. Anth 3404/3403, Anth 3838, Anth 6413)
  • Anth 6103, Proseminar in Archaeology
  • Three electives, may include a graduate-level course or upper-level undergraduate course for graduate credit

Summer After Senior Year (three–six hours)

  • Anth 6995, Research OR Field School

Fall (nine hours)

  • Anth 6102, Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
  • Placing-out exams in biological anthropology and/or linguistics
  • Three electives (could include thesis research or internship)

Spring (nine–12 hours)

  • Three electives (could include thesis research or internship)
  • Hand in thesis or other culminating exercise


Course Requirements

Students take 12 graduate credits as part of their undergraduate program. All requirements for both the BS in Biological Anthropology and the MA in Anthropology 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.

MA Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 36 credits, including 9 credits in proseminars, 3 credits in an approved methods course, 18 to 24 credits in elective courses, and 3 to 6 credits in thesis. Students are encouraged to plan their programs with an advisor.

Foreign language requirement

Students with fewer than four semesters of a major foreign language taken at the undergraduate level must demonstrate a reading knowledge of an approved language before beginning the third semester of graduate work.

Core requirements
At least three proseminars selected from the following:
ANTH 6101Proseminar in Biological Anthropology
ANTH 6102Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 6103Proseminar in Archaeology
ANTH 6104Proseminar in Linguistic Anthropology
Students with significant background in a field, as determined by evaluation of a petition to the proseminar instructor, may waive one proseminar. Those who are permitted to waive a proseminar must take one course from group A and one from Group B.
Group A
ANTH 6101Proseminar in Biological Anthropology
or ANTH 6103 Proseminar in Archaeology
Group B
ANTH 6102Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
or ANTH 6104 Proseminar in Linguistic Anthropology
One approved 3-credit methods course.
Thesis or other culminating project
3 to 6 credits in courses leading to a thesis or other culminating project, depending on which concentration the student pursues.
18 to 24 credits in elective courses, depending on the number of credits taken in core course requirements. Students may choose to pursue a concentration (below), in which case any credits remaining after core and concentration requirements have been met are taken in elective courses.
Optional concentrations
In addition to completing all core requirements for the degree, students may choose to pursue a concentration as part of their program of study. All requirements for the concentration must be fulfilled.
Museum training concentration (12 to 15 credits) 1
12 to 15 credits in courses selected from the following. 6 of these credits may be in an internship.
ANTH 6200Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6201Methods in Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6203Preventive Conservation Concepts
ANTH 6204Preventive Conservation Techniques
ANTH 6205Problems in Conservation
ANTH 6230Internship in Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6291Special Topics in Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6508Ethics and Cultural Property
International development (15 credits)
ANTH 6301The Anthropology of Development
Two courses from the following:
ANTH 6302Issues in Development
ANTH 6330Internship in Development Anthropology
ANTH 6391Anthropology and Contemporary Problems
ANTH 6501Gender and Sexuality
ANTH 6507Nationalism and Ethnicity
One approved graduate-level course in quantitative analysis.
Health, science, and society (15 credits)
Students who choose to pursue the health, science, and society (HSS) concentration do so in one of two focus areas: Science and technology studies or medical anthropology.
HSS concentration—Science and technology studies focus:
ANTH 6504Social Study of Science and Technology
Two courses selected from the following (see courses at bottom of concentration as well):
ANTH 3602Ethnographic Analysis of Speech 3
ANTH 3603Psycholinguistics 3
ANTH 3604Culture and Media 3
ANTH 3625Ethnographic and Historical Perspectives on Data Ethics 3
AMST 2610Science, Technology, and Politics in Modern America 3
AMST 2620Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence 3
AMST 2630Discovering the Mind (for graduate credit)
AMST 6190Topics in American Studies
HSS concentration—medical anthropology focus:
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
6 credits in research methods courses, which must include one course in qualitative methods and one required course in quantitative methods, selected from the following:
Qualitative methods course options:
ANTH 6331Research Methods in Development Anthropology
ANTH 6531Methods in Sociocultural Anthropology
SOC 6232Qualitative Methods
Quantitative methods course options:
PUBH 6003Principles and Practices of Epidemiology
6 credits in sociocultural anthropology coursework selected from the following. Other ANTH courses may be approved by the concentration advisor, including courses at GW and those offered through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. For courses not directly focused on health, students should direct their learning, as far as possible, toward health issues, for example, by selecting a health-related topic in a course that requires or allows a paper. 4
ANTH 6301The Anthropology of Development
ANTH 6302Issues in Development
ANTH 6391Anthropology and Contemporary Problems
ANTH 6501Gender and Sexuality
ANTH 6504Social Study of Science and Technology
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
ANTH 6506Topics in Medical Anthropology (Culture and Psychiatry)
ANTH 6591Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 6707Issues in Middle East Anthropology
IAFF 6138Special Topics in International Development Studies (Gender and Development or Indigenous People)
The following courses may be taken for credit toward the HSS concentration—medical anthropology focus with the permission of the concentration advisor:
ANTH 3503Psychological Anthropology
ANTH 6330Internship in Development Anthropology

1Students whose primary interest is in museum techniques, rather than anthropology, are advised to apply to the MA in museum studies program. (Note that an MA in teaching in the field of museum education is also available through the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.)

2The Elliott School of International Affairs offers a number of courses relevant to the study of anthropology through its international development studies program.

3Taken for graduate credit.

4Visit the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area website for additional information.