Majoring in Anthropology
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Prerequisites for majoring in Anthropology
Students who wish to concentrate in anthropology must take one anthropology course (any level) prior to junior year or have permission from the department's director of undergraduate studies. Courses taken before major declaration may be counted towards required departmental courses.
Program of Study
Anthropology concentrators select a track and take nine departmental courses within their selected track, including two core courses (ANT 300 and ANT 301). All concentrators are required to participate in a senior seminar in the fall semester of their senior year. The seminar is designed to help students write their senior thesis.
Students concentrating in Anthropology may choose one of three tracks:
The Sociocultural Anthropology track is for students who want to explore a number of foundational sub-fields within anthropology. For students who choose the Law, Politics, and Economics or Medical Anthropology track, the selection of required and elective courses is geared toward rigorous study in these respective sub-fields. The courses in each track ensure that students, regardless of track, have a systematic understanding of the scope, methods and theories within the discipline of anthropology by the time they graduate.
Concentrators are automatically placed in the SCA track unless they complete a form declaring that they are opting into MedAnth or LPE. The track selection form must be completed and filed with the department during the student's junior year on or before the first day of classes in the spring term.
The transcript degree for all concentrators will be A.B. in Anthropology. Students who successfully complete the curriculum of their chosen track will receive a departmental attestation on Class Day and may note their concentration on their resumés.
Anthropology concentrators take a minimum of nine departmental courses comprising required and elective courses. All students take two core courses plus up to two additional required courses. The mix of each student's required and elective courses is determined by the student's selected track. For more information on required courses, elective courses, and cognates, please refer to the page on departmental courses.
The core courses shared by all Anthropology concentrators are:
- ANT 300 Ethnography, Evidence and Experience, normally taken in junior fall unless a student is studying abroad
- ANT 301 The Ethnographer's Craft, normally taken in junior spring unless studying abroad
Anthropology concentrators who plan to write a senior thesis based on ethnographic fieldwork are expected to complete ANT 301 by the end of junior year.
To count for the major, required and elective courses (including cognates) must be taken for a grade and not pass/D/fail. The final grade earned for a departmental course must be "C" or higher.
Fieldwork / Study Abroad
Some anthropology majors choose to spend a semester in their junior year away from Princeton studying abroad, and/or the summer before their senior year doing field research off-campus. Fieldwork and study abroad are neither required nor expected, but they are unique opportunities for students to experience other social worlds first-hand and to make a refreshing change from the laboratory or library research that is more commonly part of college work.
The director of undergraduate studies can help students plan for study abroad, including choosing courses to enhance their studies in anthropology or to explore other interests, as well as developing a bridge between study abroad and thesis research to be conducted in the summer before senior year.
In their role as advisers for students' independent work, Anthropology faculty are available to help students develop field research projects. The department has limited funds (available on a competitive basis) to support rising seniors in conducting summer field research toward their senior thesis projects. Additional funding is available from the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) and other sources. Students should consult the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE) for funding application details.
Independent Work and Senior Departmental Examination
The Guide to Independent Work in Anthropology explains in detail the Junior Paper and Senior Thesis for students majoring in Anthropology. This guide is reviewed and updated as needed each year before the start of the following fall term.
In the spring of senior year, after the thesis deadline, all concentrators must complete a departmental examination designed to test their knowledge of anthropology as it relates to their area of expertise.
Departmental Academic Standards
To do well in coursework in the department, students should come to class, participate, attend office hours, and hand work in on time. To work up to potential in independent work, students should adhere to the department’s independent work calendars, meet with advisors, and hand in proposals and drafts by deadlines. Juniors should actively connect learning in ANT 300 and ANT 301 to their own conduct of independent work. Seniors should attend the required fall-term senior seminar with active participation. By following these suggestions, students should do well in the department. Nevertheless, a student may occasionally fall behind in coursework or independent work. In such cases, communication with instructors and advisors is essential and consultation with the director of undergraduate studies is highly recommended and encouraged. If work needs to be submitted late, students must follow the Department of Anthropology’s policy on extensions and late work.
Students may also refer to The Guide to Independent Work in Anthropology for departmental policies on evaluating work in Anthropology and extensions for senior theses.
Honors are calculated according to the following weighting system:
- Average grade in departmental courses (comprising the nine required and elective courses, including Princeton cognates): 60%
- Senior thesis: 25%
- Junior paper: 10%
- Senior departmental exam: 5%
To count for the major, a course must be taken for a grade and not pass/D/fail. The final grade earned for independent work, the senior departmental exam, and any departmental course must be "C" or higher.
In the calculation of honors, "departmental courses" comprise the required and elective courses in a student's track. For students who have completed more elective courses than needed for the applicable track, the lowest grades will be dropped when calculating the "average grade in departmental courses." Although courses taken during study abroad can count as cognates towards fulfillment of departmental course requirements, the grades earned at the abroad institution are not factored into the calculation for departmental honors. For students using study abroad courses to fulfill requirements, the departmental "average grade" can be calculated based on fewer than nine courses.