Anthropology Major

Goals for the Anthropology Major

Requirements for the Anthropology Major

A major in anthropology consists of a minimum of nine units (which may include courses from MIT's anthropology offerings), of which two introductory units are required (ANTH 101 must be one of them, ANTH 102 or ANTH 103/CLCV 103 may count as the second), in addition to ANTH 205, and ANTH 301. Students are required to take one additional 300-level offering and to engage in at least one significant academic experience outside the classroom to be identified in conjunction with the major advisor (e.g. study abroad, independent research, internships, field schools, or related experiences). 

Honors in Anthropology

To graduate with honors in anthropology, a student must write a senior thesis and pass an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the department above the 100 level.

Typically conversations between students and advisors about the thesis process will begin no later than the Spring semester of a student’s junior year. All students are asked to produce a short (~2-page) project proposal, to be reviewed by the Anthropology faculty, prior to formally beginning the Honors thesis process (i.e. enrollment in ANTH 360), typically by the end of the junior Spring semester. If a project requires Institutional Review Board approval, this process should begin as soon as possible.

Beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year, the Anthropology Department will accept two kinds of proposals for Honors thesis consideration.


A student completing Honors Option A will propose, carry out, and complete an independent project. This project may involve ethnographic, archival, archaeological, or evolutionary approaches to an anthropological question. Students will work closely with their advisor(s) to establish a timeline for carrying out this work, reviewing the appropriate literature, writing up their project in the form of a written thesis, and defending their thesis, as part of the ANTH 360/ANTH 370 sequence. Expectations are that the scope of an Honors thesis project will be substantively greater than other independent work (e.g. an ANTH 350 course) that a student may complete.


Recognizing that students may not always be in a position to carry out in-person work on their desired subject, Honors Option B is intended to nevertheless provide students with honors recognition and an independent project of equivalent academic rigor. An Option B thesis will involve the co-production between student and advisor of a thorough reading list relevant to the student’s theoretical/subject/regional interest. The student will be responsible for progressing through this list, culminating in the production of a critical literature review of this topic. Following the completion of this literature review, the student will produce an NSF/Wenner-Gren style grant application laying out a formal research proposal. This process should be iterative, involving close consultation and feedback between student and advisor(s). At the culmination of this process, the literature review and grant application will be submitted and subject to an oral defense in order to complete the thesis process.

Anthropology Related Courses

LING 114

Introduction to Linguistics 1.0

LING 238

Sociolinguistics 1.0

LING 244

Language: Form and Meaning 1.0

LING 338

Seminar: African American English 1.0

MUS 209

A History of Jazz 1.0

MUS 210

Music and the Global Metropolis 1.0

WGST 224

Feminist Ethnography 1.0
WGST 320 Race, Gender, Science: Exploring Feminist STS