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Anthropology, the broadest of the social science disciplines, is the study of human culture and social experience through space and time—from early hominid ancestors to post-industrial societies. The major consists of a four-field approach: cultural anthropology and the study of historic and contemporary societies (ethnography, ethnology, and ethnohistory), archaeology and the study of material culture (prehistoric, historic, and underwater archaeology), biological anthropology (biology, human evolution, and culture), and linguistic anthropology (language and culture). Course offerings address topical areas that include applied anthropology, Chesapeake archaeology, ecological and economic anthropology, kinship and social organization, food, media, myth, ritual, and symbolism. Many courses address issues of gender, ethnicity, and globalization.

Affiliations with Historic St. Mary's City and nearby Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum/Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory provide adjunct faculty and generate rich opportunities for majors to engage in internships, independent studies, St. Mary's Projects, and hands-on professional research, laboratory, and fieldwork. Several study tour and exchange programs offer exciting possibilities for study and research abroad, including the Gambia program sponsored by anthropology faculty.

A degree in anthropology prepares students for graduate work in the social sciences and professions and provides an excellent liberal arts foundation for a wide range of career options—working in educational institutions, museums, business, private industry, or government.

Learning outcomes for the Anthropology major:


To earn a bachelor of arts degree with a major in anthropology, a student must satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  1. General College Requirements (see Curriculum section), including the following requirements to satisfy the major:
  2. Forty credit hours of coursework carrying anthropology credit and distributed as follows:
    1. Required Core Courses (8 credit hours):
      • ANTH 101: Introduction to Anthropology
      • ANTH 201: Anthropology Toolkit
    2. Three courses chosen from the following to incorporate three subfield anthropology courses (12 credit hours):
      • ANTH 230 Sociocultural Anthropology
      • ANTH 243 Biological Anthropology
      • ANTH 250 Language and Culture
      • ANTH 281 Archaeology and Prehistory
    3. Required Upper-Level Courses (8 credit hours):
      • ANTH 349: Anthropological Theory
      • ANTH 385: Anthropological Research Methods
    4. Three elective courses in anthropology at the 300- or 400-level (12 credit hours)
  3. In their senior year, majors may elect to complete a St. Mary's Project (8 credit hours, ANTH 493/494), or complete the Anthropology Senior Tutorial (ANTH 490) and one additional course in anthropology at the 300- or 400-level (4 credit hours).
  4. The 48 credit hours of major requirements may include field experience and independent study as approved by the department chair.
  5. All courses presented for the major must have a grade of at least C-.

Each student will plan an individual program with an adviser to arrive at a combination of courses that will meet the requirements for the major and be most meaningful for the student’s goals and interests. The anthropology faculty strongly recommends that the student obtain an adviser from among the faculty in the student’s area of concentration by the beginning of the junior year. The following model is suggested as a possible basic program to satisfy the above requirements:


To earn a minor in anthropology, a student must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Completion of Core Curriculum requirements.
  2. At least 24 credit hours in anthropology:
    1. Required Courses (8 credits)
      • ANTH 101 Introduction to Anthropology
      • ANTH 201 Anthropology Toolkit
    2. Two Courses at the 200-level (8 credits)
      • ANTH 230 Cultural Anthropology
      • ANTH 243 Biological Anthropology
      • ANTH 250 Language and Culture
      • ANTH 281 Archaeology and Prehistory
    3. Elective Courses (8 credits)
      • Two 4-credit anthropology courses at the 300 or 400 level
    4. All courses presented for the minor must have a grade of at least C-.


A Master of Arts in Teaching program is available at St. Mary’s College of Maryland after completion of the baccalaureate degree. Students who are interested in becoming teachers should contact the chair of the Department of Educational Studies or an education adviser in their major field of study for suggested coursework in Educational Studies and their specific major. These consultations should take place during the first semester of the sophomore year.


Bill Roberts (department chair), Iris Carter Ford, Lisa Gijanto, Julia King. Adjunct faculty: Silas Hurry, Susan Langley, Henry Miller, Timothy Riordan, Sarah Rivers-Cofield, Patricia Samford


ANTH 101. Introduction to Anthropology (4E)

This course provides an overview of anthropology’s approach to understanding humanity and the human condition from a holistic perspective. Students examine the four subfields of anthropology: archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology. Students learn how anthropology provides useful knowledge, perspectives, and skills to better understand and meet contemporary challenges facing humanity. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Social Sciences.

ANTH 150. Gambian Languages and Culture (4E)

This course is offered every semester through the College’s PEACE program in The Gambia, West Africa. Students learn basic grammar and vocabulary of the Wolof language, the lingua franca of the Greater Banjul Area, which they apply through daily social interaction during the semester. The emphasis of the course is on speaking and comprehension of the language, and understanding the norms and expectations for conversation and appropriate interaction in daily Gambian life. Guest lecturers cover topics about Gambia’s history, culture, society, political events, intercultural interaction with Gambians and non-Gambians, and what it means to be a tubab (foreigner). This course fulfills the Core Curriculum requirement in Cultural Perspectives.

ANTH 201. Anthropology Toolkit (4E)

This course provides an introduction to the basic anthropological concepts and tools used by anthropologists to collect, analyze and interpret data; and to report findings in written, verbal, and multimedia formats. Students begin to develop basic fieldwork skills such as taking notes, genealogical and network analysis, survey research and collaborative ethnography. Students learn to use the electronic Human Relations Area Files and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Issues arising from anthropological fieldwork and ethics are discussed.

ANTH 230. Cultural Anthropology (4S)

This course provides an introduction to the ways societies use culture to structure behavior and interpret experience. Students learn methods and theories anthropologists use to study culture; examine aspects of culture such as language, social organization, gender, marriage, family, and religion; and analyze historical, biological, and social determinants of cultural institutions. This course fulfills the Core Curriculum requirement in Cultural Perspectives.

ANTH 243. Biological Anthropology (4F)

This course addresses the relationships between culture and human biology. Topics include primate classification and behavior, human origins and evolution, and human variation and genetics. Students work with fossils, as well as geological and other data, to understand the biological dimensions of human populations.

ANTH 250. Language and Culture (4S)

This course provides a broad introduction to linguistic anthropology. Students learn how anthropologists study the relationships between language, culture, and society and how language both reflects and shapes human behavior. Topics addressed include historical and comparative linguistics, descriptive linguistics, and sociolinguistics. This course fulfills the Core Curriculum requirement in Cultural Perspectives.

ANTH 281. Archaeology and Prehistory (4F)

This course provides an overview of the methods and theories employed by archaeologists to study prehistoric populations. Students learn the methods used by anthropologists to collect, analyze, and interpret archaeological data. Students survey the development and composition of past human cultures.

ANTH 302. Food and Culture (4AF)

This course focuses on the role of food in human evolution and the cultural dimensions of food practices. Students learn what people eat across cultures and why; how groups get, process, and prepare food; how food is used to build and maintain social, economic, and political relationships; and how food is linked to gender, age, social class, and ethnicity.

ANTH 303. The Gambia, West Africa Field Study Program (8ASu)

This course is designed to provide participants with first-hand learning experiences in The Gambia. Over the course of seven weeks, participants study various aspects of Gambian language, social life, and history to gain the requisite knowledge and skills to pursue research on a topic selected with the instructor. The combination of directed research and other personal experiences provides the basis for participants to better understand and appreciate the achievements of African people in general and The Gambia’s civilizations in particular.

ANTH 304. Anthropology of Media (4AF)
This course provides a survey of media as powerful cultural agents. Students will acquire a broad understanding of media (primarily electronic) and the theoretical tools necessary to critically investigate cultural and social effects. The course will focus on ethnographic issues at the intersection of people and media technologies and anthropological critiques of how mass media are employed to represent and construct culture.
ANTH 306. Principles of Applied Anthropology (4AF)

This course provides an overview of applied anthropology and the work of practitioners from a historical perspective. The course examines the contexts in which practitioners work, the types of problems they face, and the political and ethical challenges associated with their work. Students become familiar with and begin to develop requisite skills to undertake applied work by carrying out a service-learning project in the local community.

ANTH 311. Native American Culture and History (4AS)

This course provides an interdisciplinary anthropological and ethnohistorical analysis of Native American societies and cultures in the Americas from the first peopling of the New World through interactions with Euro-Americans from the 17th to the early 20th century. Archaeological, ethnographic, and ethnohistorical approaches are employed. Cross-listed as HIST 311. Students may receive credit for either course but not both.

ANTH 313. African American Colonial Culture (4AF)

This course focuses on the worldview and lifestyles of African Americans during the colonial period. Students explore early African- American culture through archaeology, ethnohistory, and anthropological linguistics. The intent of the course is to discover what it meant to be human during the colonial era from an African-American perspective and to gain general insight on how culture develops for all groups.

ANTH 325. Interpretation of Myth (4AF)

This course focuses on major approaches and important contributions to the cross-cultural study of myth. Students explore and evaluate the place of myth in Western culture.

ANTH 336. The Cultured Body (4AF)

This course explores historical and cultural variations of the body and embodiment used to construct and contest identities that reflect ideas about the self, family, gender, nation, nature and the supernatural documented from a sample of cultures around the world.

ANTH 337. Atlantic World Archaeology (4AF)

This course explores the creation of the “Atlantic World” formed through ongoing contacts between Europeans, Africans and Native Americans from the late 15th century through the early 19th century. This period was characterized by exploration, contact, discovery, trade, conquest, colonization, slavery and the rise of capitalism.

ANTH 341. Economic and Ecological Anthropology (4AF)

This course provides an overview of contemporary relationships of economy to society, culture, and environment. Students examine the major anthropological approaches to the study of human adaptation and livelihood. The course focuses on basic processes of production, exchange, and consumption for societies ranging from small-scale foragers to global-scale capitalists.

ANTH 343. Ritual and Symbolism (4AF)

This course focuses on the analysis of symbolism and application of this analytical perspective to the study of ritual. Students examine the capacity of humans to create and use symbols to establish order and meaning and to explore the relationship between religious and secular rituals.

ANTH 344. American Folk and Popular Culture (4AS)

The course surveys contributions from folklorists and anthropologists to the understanding of the American variant of Western culture. Topics considered include social structure, kinship, myth, material culture, and symbolism. Problems concerning ethnographic recording and observer bias receive special attention.

ANTH 346. Analysis of Material Culture (4AS)

The purpose of this course is to examine how anthropologists, archaeologists, folklorists, and other analysts of humanly constructed artifacts and environments infer cultural symbol and logic from prehistoric, historic, and contemporary material culture. A cross-cultural sample of cultures and societies is considered. Material categories addressed include architecture, gravestones, measuring instruments, pottery vessels, clothing, and settlement pattern.

ANTH 348. African American Culture (4AS)
This course focuses on the breadth of contemporary African-American culture in the United States explored through ethnography, ethnohistory, anthropological linguistics, biological anthropology, and cultural criticism. The intent of the course is to provide an introduction and broad overview of the relationship of culture to the formation and maintenance of ethnic identity.
ANTH 349. Anthropological Theory (4F)

This course provides a survey of cultural and social theory in anthropology. Students learn the history and evolution of classical and contemporary anthropology theory, as well as relationships between theory, research, and practice needed for a solid liberal arts education. The course prepares students for St. Mary's Projects, general careers, and graduate school. Prerequisites: ANTH 101 and ANTH 201.

ANTH 351. Underwater Archaeology (4S)

This course provides an introduction to underwater archaeology at the undergraduate level. Students will learn the history of the sub-discipline and a basic understanding of the steps involved in researching, recording, interpreting and protecting submerged cultural remains. No diving is required for this class. Students who successfully complete the course will have a solid foundation on which to build experience by assisting on archaeological projects.

ANTH 352. Topics in Anthropology (4)

This course provides analysis of substantive issues in anthropology. Topics vary each semester the course is offered and reflect current interests of students and the instructor. May be repeated for credit.

ANTH 353. Egyptian Archaeology (4AS)

This course presents an overview of the development, florescence, and decline of Ancient Egyptian culture using research from anthropology, archaeology, and history. Students explore the political, economic, and social history of Egypt, as well as technological and material aspects.

ANTH 357. Archaeological Analysis and Curation (4F)

This course is structured to expose students to a variety of concepts and skills used to analyze precontact Native American and Euro-American material culture of the 17th through 20th centuries. Students work in the archaeological laboratory.

ANTH 360. Kinship and Social Organization (4AS)

This course focuses on the ways societies use kinship to structure social behavior and organization. Students learn kinship terminology and systems cross-culturally with particular emphasis on feminist and postmodern challenges to critically analyze the changing landscape of kinship that will define families in the 21st century.

ANTH 385. Anthropological Research Methods (4S)

In this course students learn how to design and conduct anthropological research and critically assess a research proposal and report. Students develop research skills by completing and presenting individual or group projects. Topics include funding and the political context, research design, sampling, data collection and analysis, interpretation of data, and research report writing. Prerequisite: ANTH 101 and ANTH 201.

ANTH 390. Cultures of Africa (4AS)

This course examines the principles that organize everyday life in the cultures of Africa. The wide variety of African cultural systems is examined. The origins of African peoples and their historical development are reviewed. The impact of exogenous forces on African life is discussed. Africa’s place in world affairs is explored and prospects for the future investigated.

ANTH 410. Historical Archaeology Field School (8Su)

This 10-week course in archaeological methodology is sponsored by Historic St. Mary’s City and St. Mary’s College. Practical experience is supplemented by seminars. This course is cross-listed as HIST 410. Students may receive credit for either course but not both.

ANTH 412. Archaeological Curation, Conservation, and Collections Management (4Su)

The course provides an introduction to archaeological curation, conservation, and collections management, with emphasis on understanding, managing, and preserving historic and prehistoric artifacts and their documentation, including their use by anthropologists and historians, and ethical issues concerning preservation of the past. Students will learn to identify, document, and photograph artifacts; they will learn methods of artifact stabilization, conservation, and analysis, working with advanced laboratory equipment.

ANTH 450. Historical Archaeology (4AS)

The study of the Euro-American in North America through history and archaeology. Method and theory are emphasized. Prerequisite: ANTH 101 or ANTH 281, or one or more American history courses, or consent of the instructor.

ANTH 398, 498. Off-Campus Internship (4-16E)

A variety of off-campus experiential learning opportunities can be arranged through the Career Development Center. The off-campus internship is an individually designed experience that allows the student to explore the relationships between learning in the classroom and the practical application of knowledge in everyday work situations. Prerequisites: admission to the Internship Program and approval of the department chair. (See Internships under “Academic Policies” section.) Credit/no credit grading.

ANTH 199, 299, 399, 499. Independent Study (1-4E)

This course consists of an independent creative or research project designed by the student and supervised by an anthropology faculty member. The nature of the project, the schedule for completion, and the means of evaluation must be formalized in a learning contract prior to registration. (See Independent Study under “Academic Policies” section.)

ANTH 197, 297, 397, 497. Directed Research in Anthropology (1-4E)

Under the direct supervision of a faculty member, a student participates in primary (field) or secondary research. A learning contract that specifies the research goals and methodology must be filed with the Office of the Registrar. A maximum of four credit hours of directed research in anthropology (397 or 497) may be applied to major requirements in anthropology. The course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Learning contract filed in the Office of the Registrar.

ANTH 490. Senior Tutorial (4E)

This course analyzes a selected issue from the perspectives of anthropology. The tutorial enables students to integrate knowledge gained in major coursework and apply it to a specific topic. The goal of the course is to produce a research paper for public presentation or submission to a professional conference.

ANTH 493/494. St. Mary’s Project (1-8E)

The project, which may take many forms, draws on and extends knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. The student initiates the project, identifies an area to be explored, and proposes a method of inquiry appropriate to the topic. The project should include a reflection of the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which it is a contribution. It must be shared with the College community through posters, presentations, or other means. The project may be within this discipline, across disciplines, or in an established cross-disciplinary studies option. The project is supervised by a faculty mentor. This course is repeatable for up to a total of 8 credit hours. Prerequisite: ANTH 101, ANTH 201, either ANTH 349 or ANTH 385, approval of faculty mentor and department chair of the student's major(s).