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Undergraduate Program

Anthropology Majors' Handbook

The Department of Anthropology is committed to providing its students with knowledge of and appreciation for the physical and cultural diversity of humanity, past and present. The department is structured around the four subfields of anthropology (archaeology, sociocultural anthropology, biological anthropology, and linguistics), and undergraduates are encouraged to explore the breadth of the field through study in all aspects of the discipline. The department offers an undergraduate major leading to either the B.A. or B.S. degree in anthropology; there is no minor in anthropology.

Anthropology as a Liberal Arts Major
The Department of Anthropology at Tulane University strongly believes in the value of a liberal arts education. We are committed within the program of study in the department to providing undergraduate students with a broad and well-rounded education in all facets of study which emphasize writing and research skills. Students who major in our program have numerous options upon graduation. A small but steady portion of our students continue to pursue studies in anthropology at the graduate level, and many go on to professional jobs within the field. In fact, anthropology is a very good major for students interested in law, medicine, and even business. Anthropologists are also employed in education, publishing, politics, health care, government (local, state, and national), and in international relations and international aid.

The undergraduate program at Tulane consists currently of some 175 majors studying in all four subfields as well as in general anthropology. We are committed to working with our undergraduate majors both in the classroom and in the search for a career after graduation. Undergraduate students have often been involved with faculty and graduate students in their research; and, through the support of the department, undergraduates have undertaken their own projects, in some cases in foreign countries. The department offers the motivated student the resources, facilities, and in some cases the financial support to excel at Tulane University .

Departmental Requirements
The major requires students to take 30 credits of approved course work to complete the departmental degree requirements. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 in their major. This requirement is above and beyond the rules concerning the University grade point average. Students must take one course above the 1000 level in each of the four subdisciplines (archaeology, sociocultural anthropology, biological anthropology, and linguistics). Majors also must take a capstone in either their junior or senior year, chosen from among any of the following:

ANTH 4060 Proseminar

Honors Thesis

For students with a linguistics emphasis:

  ANTH 3310 Historical Linguistics

  ANTH 3670 Language and It's Acquisition

  ANTH 6420 Linguistic Field Methods

For students with an archaeology emphasis:

  ANTH 4120 Conquest and Colonialism

  ANTH 6230 Archaeological Theory

  ANTH 6430 Archaeology of Cultural Landscapes

For students with a biological anthropology emphasis:

  ANTH 4510 Species Concepts in Human Paleontology

  ANTH 6500 Human Evolution

  ANTH 6745 Bioarchaeology of Mummies


For students with a sociocultural anthropology emphasis:

  ANTH 3850 The Four-Field Model

  ANTH 6210 Development of Anthropological Theory

  ANTH 6212 Concepts of Ethnohistory

  ANTH 6395 Music/Identity NO/Fr LA

  ANTH 6520 Field Methods in Social and Cultural Anthropology

For capstone courses other than ANTH 4060, students must co-register for

ANTH 5110.

Writing Intensive Options

Majors may elect to fulfill the School of Liberal Arts writing-intensive requirement within the program in one of two ways:

1. With the instructor’s permission, a student may co-register for ANTH 3880 

    or 4880 (according to the course level)

2. A student may register for a course designated by the instructor as writing-


Undergraduate Emphasis in Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Language is a, if not the, particularly human ability. The study of this ability includes the study of definitional characteristics, the acquisition and loss of language by "hu-per-offspring-kind," its formal properties of sound, meaning, and juxtaposition, and the social contextualization of its use.

Students wishing to create an emphasis in linguistics within the anthropology major should take the following into consideration, and may wish to consult with Dr. Maxwell and/or Dr. Orie.

ANTH 1030 (Languages of the World) or ANTH 3290 (The Nature of Language) should be taken as a background course. While these are not prerequisites for all the courses in the sub-discipline, they give an overview of the field and provide rudimentary skills in the process of analysis which will be applied in other classes.

At least one class in formal theory should be taken. These would include:

ANTH 3310           Introduction to Historical Linguistics
ANTH 3590           Introduction to Syntax
ANTH 3630           Linguistic Phonetics
ANTH 3640           Studies in Phonology
ANTH 3650           Morphology
ANTH 6420           Linguistic Field Methods

At least one class in applied or socio-linguistics should be taken. These would include:

ANTH 3300 History of Writing

ANTH 3400/6400 Culture and Language

ANTH 3440          Dialectology

ANTH 3660          Discourse Analysis

ANTH 3670          Language Acquisition
ANTH 3680          Language and Power
ANTH 3690          Language and Gender

ANTH 3780          Language Death
ANTH 3930/7930  Languages of Louisiana

Other courses in the Anthropology department that have significant linguistic content and may complement a linguistics emphasis are:

ANTH 3150/6150  Cognitive Anthropology, and
ANTH 6810          Introduction to Mayan Hieroglyphs

The study of foreign languages, particularly non-Indo-European ones, offers an important breadth to and an underpinning for a linguistic understanding of language.

Undergraduate Emphasis in Biological Anthropology
For those students interested in pursuing a course of study that will prepare them for graduate school in Biological Anthropology, the department recommends the following courses in addition to departmental requirements for the B.A. or B.S. in Anthropology.

Basic Courses in Biological Anthropology:

ANTH 3120/6120  Anthropology of Sex and Reproduction

ANTH 3140/6140  Primate Behavior and Ecology
ANTH 3720          Adaptation and Human Variability

ANTH 3730          Principles of Forensic Anthropology

ANTH 3750          Bones, Bodies and Disease
ANTH 4990/5000  Senior/Honors Research

ANTH 6500          Human Evolution

Basic Courses in Other Departments:

CELL 2050           Genetics

EBIO 3080           Process of Evolution

PSYC 2090          Univariate Statistics

Recommended for Specific Interest in Primate Behavior:

ANTH 3450           Methods of Observation in Behavioral Research

ANTH 3760           Primate Evolution and Adaptation

PSYC 3680/EBIO 3680  Comparative Animal Behavior
PSYC 3690/EBIO 3690  Experimental Animal Behavior
EBIO 1010/1110     Diversity of Life (Ecology) (Honors alternate available)

Recommendation for Specific Interest in Human Osteology or Paleoanthropology:

ANTH 3730            Principles of Forensic Anthropology

ANTH 3750            Bones, Bodies and Disease

ANTH 3755            Human Osteology

ANTH 4510            Species Concepts in Human Paleontology

ANTH 6480            Human Functional Morphology

ANTH 6500            Human Evolution

Please note: Only two courses from other departments will be counted toward the Anthropology major.

The listed courses may have prerequisites.

In selecting courses above the 100 level in each of the sub-fields, the student may choose from the following courses, listed by sub-discipline.



ANTH 2010          World Prehistory

ANTH 3260/6260  Highland Mexican Prehistory

ANTH 3320          Archaeology of Gender
ANTH 3340          Introduction to Archaeology

ANTH 3430/6430  Archaeology of Cultural Landscapes

ANTH 3560          Environmental Archaeology

ANTH 4120          Conquest and Colonialism
ANTH 4130          North American Prehistory
ANTH 4150          African Prehistory

ANTH 4260          Archaeology of the US Southwest
ANTH 4270          Roots of Western Civilization
ANTH 4410          Olmec and Maya Civilization
ANTH 4610          Ceramic Analysis
ANTH 4620          Lithic Analysis
ANTH 6100          South American Archaeology
ANTH 6130          Southeastern United States Prehistory
ANTH 6230          Archaeological Theory
ANTH 6240          Technical Analysis in Archaeology
ANTH 6250          Old World Paleolithic Prehistory

ANTH 6430          Archaeology of Cultural Landscapes

ANTH 6810          Introduction to Maya Hieroglyphics


ANTH 2020          Visual Languages Across Cultures

ANTH 3290          The Nature of Language
ANTH 3300          History of Writing
ANTH 3310          Introduction to Historical Linguistics
ANTH 3400/6400  Language and Culture
ANTH 3440          Dialectology

ANTH 3441          Lexicography

ANTH 3520/4520  Diaspora Yoruba

ANTH 3535          Native American Language and Linguistics

ANTH 3590          Introduction to Syntax
ANTH 3630          Linguistic Phonetics
ANTH 3640          Studies in Phonology
ANTH 3650          Morphology
ANTH 3660          Discourse Analysis: Pragmatics of Language Use
ANTH 3670          Language and Its Acquisition
ANTH 3680          Language and Power
ANTH 3690          Language and Gender

ANTH 3780          Language Death

ANTH 3930          Languages of Louisiana

ANTH 6400          Language and Culture

ANTH 6415          Pidgins and Creoles
ANTH 6420          Linguistic Field Methods
ANTH 6700          Spoken Nahuatl
ANTH 6720          Spoken Yoruba
ANTH 6800          Spoken Yucatecan Maya

ANTH 6820          Classical Yucatecan Maya
ANTH 6840          Beginning Kaqchikel (Maya) Language

ANTH 6870          Kaqchikel Maya Culture


ANTH 3120/6120  Anthropology of Sex and Reproduction

ANTH 3140          Primate Behavior and Ecology
ANTH 3450          Methods of Observation in Behavioral Research

ANTH 3460          Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 3720          Adaptation and Human Variability
ANTH 3730          Principles of Forensic Anthropology
ANTH 3740          Human Sociolobiology

ANTH 3745          Bioarchaeology of Mummies
ANTH 3750          Bones, Bodies, & Disease

ANTH 3755          Human Osteology
ANTH 3760          Primate Evolution and Adaptation

ANTH 4510          Species Concepts in Human Paleontology
ANTH 6020          The Neandertal Enigma

ANTH 6140          Primate Behavior and Biology
ANTH 6480          Human Functional Morphology

ANTH 6490          Evolution of Behavior
ANTH 6500          Human Evolution

ANTH 6745          Advanced Mummy Studies


ANTH 2030          The Anthropology of Women and Men
ANTH 2100          Myth and Life
ANTH 3010          Hunters and Gatherers

ANTH 3060/6060  South American Indians
ANTH 3070/6070  Contemporary Chinese Society
ANTH 3080/6080  East Asia
ANTH 3110          Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa

ANTH 3150/6150  Cognitive Anthropology
ANTH 3160/6160  Peoples of the Pacific

ANTH 3180/6180  Ethnic China
ANTH 3190          Economic Anthropology

ANTH 3280          Middle American Indians
ANTH 3330          Anthropology of Gender
ANTH 3350/6350  Culture & Religion

ANTH 3360          Anthropology of Cities

ANTH 3370          Locating Southeast Asia
ANTH 3380          Cultural Dynamics

ANTH 3395/6395  Music & Identity in N.O. and French LA
ANTH 3470          Many Faces of Islam

ANTH 3480          African Modernities
ANTH 3510/6510 Ethnicity and Nationalism
ANTH 3530/6530 Arts of Native North America
ANTH 3540/6540 Plains Indians
ANTH 3700          Environmental Anthropology
ANTH 3710/6710  Historical Ecology of Amazonia

ANTH 3770          Global Vietnam

ANTH 3850          The Four Field Model

ANTH 3860          Religions of Native North America
ANTH 4030          Kinship Systems

ANTH 4070          Urban Anthropology New Orleans

ANTH 4080          Race & Nation in Spanish Caribbean

ANTH 4210          Seminar in Historical Ecology
ANTH 6210          Development of Anthropological Theory

ANTH 6212          Concepts of Ethnohistory

ANTH 6270          Culture and Romantic Love

ANTH 6320          Social Structure
ANTH 6340          Medical Anthropology

ANTH 6520          Field Methods in Social and Cultural Anthropology

Specific programs of study vary from student to student and should be arrived at in consultation with the major advisor. Although there are generally no prerequisites for anthropology courses (except in linguistics as are noted in the catalogue), students are encouraged to take one or more introductory courses in their freshman or sophomore years to provide a firm background for further study. The 6000-level courses are specifically designed for undergraduate as well as graduate students, and all junior and senior majors should choose freely from among these offerings. There is no need for students to specialize in any one of the subfields of anthropology, although those contemplating graduate school or professional training should consult their advisor about a relevant program of study in one or more of the subdisciplines.

In keeping with our commitment to the holistic study of human culture, the department allows students to count up to 6 credits of University course work taken outside of the department towards the major. These courses must be relevant to the major and should be in accord with each student's particular course of study. There is no approved list of courses which may be counted, but each student may petition his or her advisor for non-departmental credits, and each case will be decided on the basis of the student's petition and the relevance of the course to his or her program of study.

The flexibility of the anthropology program permits many of the students majoring in the department to have double majors in two disciplines and to integrate their study of anthropology with various preprofessional (e.g., premedical) curricula. Many of our students also take one or more minors, which are often selected to enhance their postgraduation career possibilities. Students majoring in anthropology may elect to graduate with either the B.A. or B.S. degree.

Those who choose to receive the B.S. degree must complete an additional course in mathematics as required by the University; there are no specific requirements for the B.S. within the Department.

Becoming a Major

The process of declaring a major in the Department of Anthropology is very simple. Pick up a Major Declaration Form from your Academic Advisor and bring it to the department and ask to speak to the chair. You will be assigned an advisor who will go over the program of study and discuss with you the courses you have already taken and what your future plans should include. Students wishing to change majors should follow the same process. Once you have declared your major, your departmental advisor is your major advisor and will be until you graduate. If there are any questions concerning your program of study, departmental requirements, or your academic standing, you should contact your advisor for further information.

Bulletin Boards

Announcements of interest to majors are posted on bulletin boards on the 4th floor of Dinwiddie Hall. The bulletin boards contain notices of lectures and other events in the department and elsewhere on campus, as well as graduate programs in anthropology and related disciplines at other institutions.

Summer Field Schools in Anthropology

There are numerous opportunities for students who are interested in archaeology to receive training in excavation and laboratory techniques during the summer. Announcements for field schools can be found on the Bulletin Board in the 4th floor hallway of Dinwiddie Hall. In some years, the department offers its own field school, and an announcement about it is posted on the Bulletin Board on the 4th floor. See your major advisor about receiving credit for courses taken as part of a field school. As a rule, you may earn up to 6-credits for Tulane field schools. Fieldwork taken through other universities typically transfers as 3 credits.

Students' Union

The Anthropology Students Union of Tulane (ASUT) was formed in 1997 as the undergraduate anthropology group of Tulane. ASUT has several goals it strives to fulfill. One goal is to educate the Tulane community about anthropology through events such as Anthro Week. Another goal is to provide information to anthropology majors about graduate schools and other opportunities. This is done using an e-mail listserv. Finally, ASUT strives to bring together the anthropology majors, graduate students, professors and staff through gatherings such as parties, picnics, and other events. In addition to these activities, ASUT also plans fundraisers, field trips and lectures throughout the academic year.

Kenneth J. Opat Fund for Undergraduate Research in Anthropology

The department has a special fund to support undergraduate research in anthropology. The Kenneth J. Opat Fund was established by the family and friends of the late Kenneth J. Opat, a distinguished anthropology major in the College of Arts and Sciences at the time of his death, with the primary purpose of encouraging undergraduate students in the conduct and reporting of original research in anthropology.

A variety of research expenses are eligible for support from the fund. Examples include travel to a research site or to a professional meeting to report on research or to confer with an expert on research plans; the purchase of research supplies, equipment, or library materials (equipment and books to be retained by the university on completion of the project); wages for informants, etc.

Priority is given to applications to support research for an anthropology honors thesis or for independent studies or other advanced courses in which a research project is involved. A competition for such grants is announced by the chair during the fall or spring semesters.

In the past, awards have been made for field work on "Skid Row" in New Orleans, the Houma Indians of Louisiana, Chicano mural artists in Los Angeles, and plastic surgeons in Great Britain and the U.S.; travel to the Smithsonian Institution to study projectile point collections; a study of the leaders of messianic movements in several parts of the world; a comparative study of markets in several towns in East Africa; a study of primate behavior at the Delta Regional Primate Center; and the classification of prehistoric bone implements in Louisiana.


A limited number of internships for undergraduate course credit are available to anthropology majors. Students interested in enrolling in such courses should consult with the departmental chair and Vincent Illustre in the Center for Public Service.


The Department of Anthropology awards four prizes to graduating seniors on an irregular basis. The Victoria Reifler Bricker Award is given to the outstanding graduate for excellince in Linguistics. The Arden R. King Prize for Excellence in Anthropology is awarded to an outstanding senior. The Robert Wauchope Award is given to a senior anthropology major for a record of excellence in Anthropology. And the Elizabeth Watts Award is given to the outstanding graduate in Biological Anthropology.

Applying to Graduate School in Anthropology

Students who are interested in having a career in anthropology should consult with their major advisor and/or with a professor who specializes in the sub-field in which they wish to receive professional training. Copies of the Guide to Departments of Anthropology published by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) are kept in the department office. They may be checked out overnight from the chair. Furthermore, announcements about graduate programs in anthropology at other universities are posted on the bulletin board in the hall of the 4th floor in Dinwiddie Hall.

Most graduate programs in anthropology require three letters of recommendation from professors who are familiar with the student's academic work. Special forms are usually provided for this purpose, and they should be used in preference to the forms that are provided by the Career Planning and Placement Center in the University Center. The faculty of the department are happy to give advice and to serve as recommenders for students applying to graduate schools in anthropology (or for other professional degree programs).

 Joint BA or BS and MA in Anthropology

Undergraduate majors in anthropology may be eligible to apply for the MA in Anthropology at Tulane in addition to their BA or BS. The joint BA or BS and MA in Anthropology is a program that is separate from the departmental doctoral program.

This joint program has the following requirements and conditions:

  1. the applicant must be an anthropology major;
  2. the applicant will have to apply for admission for a fifth year of course work in anthropology no later than the spring semester of the student's junior year;
  3. in accordance with Graduate School regulations, the applicant would need to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered for acceptance;
  4. the faculty of the department will determine the number of students to be admitted to this program each year, based on overall GPA, performance in the major, and the faculty's evaluation of each applicant's potential;
  5. upon acceptance into the program, the student will be assigned a faculty advisor whose expertise coincides with the student's interests;
  6. the student will be required to complete all of the normal major requirements for the BA or BS degree in Anthropology;
  7. the student will be required to take 126 credit hours at the undergraduate level, including two graduate level anthropology courses beyond those required for the major;
  8. twenthy-four (24) additional credit hours will be required at the graduate level in the fifth year for a non-thesis MA; students who choose the thesis option will be required to take eighteen (18) credits at the graduate level in the fifth year. In both cases, the student must take at least two 7000-level courses during the fifth year;
  9. the student will have to satisfy a graduate foreign language requirement and a statistics requirement for the MA (described in the "green sheet" for graduate students);
  10. students who are accepted into this program will not be in the doctoral program of the Department of Anthropology, and students who subsequently wish to pursue the Ph.D. in Anthropology at Tulane will have to apply separately to the departmental Ph.D. program.
  11. An application to the MA program with thesis must be accompanied by a letter from a faculty member, agreeing to serve as the advisor for the thesis.
  12. The graduate year of this MA program requires full-time registration (at least three courses each semester).

For further information about this joint BA or BS and MA in Anthropology, please consult with the departmental chair.


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