Anthropology Program

Despite its relatively small size, the Anthropology Program at Marshall University incorporates a number of resources typically expected of much larger departments.  These include an Archaeological and Ethnological Laboratory, where materials from the MU Archaeological Field School are stored and analyzed.  The program also owns an extensive collection of ethnographic artifacts from all over the world (formerly of the Sunrise Museum in Charleston, WV). We support the work of the Oral History of Appalachia Collection, a vast oral history archive comprised of thousands of interviews conducted in Appalachia over the last 45 years. No other anthropology program in West Virginia has such resources, available for research to both students and faculty, in and out of state.

From the Greek anthropos (“human”) and logia (“study”), anthropology is the study of humankind. For anthropologists, there are few limits on the scope of our inquiry—from distant human origins to the immediacy of our present day.

Though relatively easy to define, anthropology can be tough to describe. Its subject matter is both extraordinary (mortuary practices of the Toraja) and ordinary (anatomy of the human foot). Our focus can be sweeping (the development of language) and minute (use-wear patterns on a prehistoric obsidian tool). As an anthropologist, you may study ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, intravenous drug use in urban Appalachia or corporate culture in a U.S. car manufacturer.

Anthropology provides an educational experience that people use to better understand and find their way in the increasingly complex and often divisive world that we live in today. Because of the integrative and holistic work anthropologists are doing around the world, the products and services people use every day are being designed better, limited environmental resources are managed more effectively, valuable cultural heritage and diverse languages can be preserved for future generations, and human lives are saved through improved healthcare delivery.

The anthropology program at Marshall University seeks to ensure that each student develops a solid foundation in the basic principles, theories and techniques of analysis within the discipline. The curriculum ensures that students are introduced to all four disciplinary subfields: social-cultural anthropology, physical-biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics. Since students majoring in anthropology vary in their interests and career goals, the curriculum allows for flexibility in developing individual courses of study, including opportunities for involvement in faculty research through course offerings and independent study.

Find the information on this page and more in the MU Anthropology Student Handbook.

See the Anthropology Course Catalog.

Undergraduate Opportunities

Anthropology offers several options for students interested in the field of study. Students may major in anthropology, earning a BA degree in the field. Students in any major can also add a minor in anthropology to complement their major program. Additionally, students pursuing an Regents BA degree may pursue this with an anthropology Area of Emphasis. Also of note, any eligible major in the Anthropology BA program can complete their degree in the department while earning Departmental Honors for extra challenge and opportunity to graduate with distinction.

To graduate with a major in anthropology, a student must take 39 credits of required core classes and electives as described below.  The required core of the anthropology major consists of 24 credits (8 classes):

  • ANT 201 Cultural Anthropology (Offered every term including summer on-campus and on-line)
  • ANT 322 Archaeology (Offered annually)
  • ANT 331 Physical Anthropology (Offered every other year)
  • ANT 361 Ethnographic Methods (Offered every year)
  • ANT 371 Linguistic Anthropology (Offered every year)
  • ANT 491 Theory in Ethnology (Offered every year)
  • ANT 492 Senior Seminar I (Offered every year in the Fall; a professional preparation course)  *Must be taken in sequence, i.e., followed Senior Seminar II
  • ANT 493 Senior Seminar II (Offered every year in the Spring; the Capstone course)

Electives: An additional minimum of 15 credits of electives must be chosen from classes with the ANT prefix unless the following applies:

A student with a particular anthropological interest that can be best served by courses without the ANT prefix may suggest a coherent selection of up to 9 credits from such classes to be counted towards the major as electives. A written rationale and plan for such a selection must be presented to and approved by the student’s academic advisor in Anthropology and the department Chair no later than in the student’s junior year or, for those students entering the program at the junior level, at a time stipulated by the Chair.

The major in Anthropology has three (optional) Areas of Emphasis: Archaeological Anthropology (AOE Code: LA11); Anthropology of Health (AOE Code: LA12); and, Sociocultural Anthropology (AOE Code: LA13).

See the Anthropology Academic Plan.

See the Anthropology Course Catalog.

Learn more about the relevancy of a degree in Anthropology.

The very best Anthropology students are encouraged to consider graduating with Departmental Honors. To graduate with honors in Anthropology a student must enroll in two subsequent 3-credit courses for a total of 6 credits over one year; a 3-credit ANT 485 Independent Study and ANT 493 Senior Seminar II (Capstone) will be the ordinary sequence, but if necessary the courses can be taken in the reversed order.

The prerequisites for obtaining permission to pursue the Honors in Anthropology option are: the student must be a declared Anthropology major in Junior or Senior standing, have a GPA in all concluded anthropology classes of a minimum of 3.5, and have a written agreement with a faculty member, who will act as the advisor. In the first term, the student will prepare a study plan and literature review for an independent research project; at the end of the term, this work must be presented to a committee of at least three faculty members who will together determine the grade.

The prerequisites for pursuing the second term of the honors option include an “A” in the first term, a GPA in all concluded anthropology classes of a minimum of 3.5, and written permission from the advisor. In the second semester, the student will conduct the proposed research project and report her/his findings (the report will ordinarily be a written paper, but can be supplemented by presentations in other media – an exhibition, a film, etc.). At the end of the term, this work must be presented to a committee of at least three faculty members who will together determine the grade. The grade “A” for the work in the second term will be recognized on the student’s official transcript as “Graduating with Honors in Anthropology.”

Students DO NOT need to be in the Honors College to pursue Departmental Honors in Anthropology.

The undergraduate Minor in General Anthropology requires 12 credit-hours made of choices from two blocks of courses.  From Block I, students are required to choose two courses (6 hours) from foundational, sub-disciplinary courses: ANT 201; ANT 322; ANT 331; and ANT 371.  From Block II, students are required to choose any two ANT courses (6 hours) from either the 300 or 400 level that are not listed in Block I.  General Anthropology is intended to provide flexibility to explore introductions to four major sub-disciplines of the field and freely sample related upper-level courses in a way that accommodates students with diverse majors ranging from pre-medicine, pre-law, geography, art history, computer science, engineering, business, environmental sciences, to social work.

Block I. Required Courses (6 hrs.)

Choose two of the following Foundational Sub-disciplinary Courses.

  • ANT 201 Cultural Anthropology – Introduction to scientific study of culture with emphasis on cultures of small-scale societies.
  • ANT 322 Archaeology – Introduction to the methods and theory of archaeology.
  • ANT 331 Physical Anthropology – The study of human physical evolution, from the earliest hominins to the present day, based on the study of primatology, human genetics, and the paleontological record.
  • ANT 371 Linguistic Anthropology – Introduction to the theories and methodologies of linguistic anthropology and to language as a cultural phenomenon and form of diversity

Block II. Elective Courses (6 hrs.)

Choose two ANT courses from either the 300 or 400 level that are not listed in Block I.  Students should seek advice from the program and plan for Block II courses that build on choices made in Block I.

The Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree Program is a non-traditional program designed for the adult student. If you need a college degree to advance your career, if you have an associate’s degree and would like to build on that foundation, or if you are seeking intellectual growth or personal achievement, this may be the program for you. If you have earned college credit in the past, but your work or other responsibilities have prevented you from completing your degree, consider a RBA with an Anthropology Area of Emphasis of 18 credits (6 classes):

  • ANT 201 (Cultural Anthropology)
  • ANT 332 (Archaeology)
  • ANT 361 (Ethnographic Methods) or ANT 491 (Theory in Ethnology)
  • 9 additional hours at the 300-400 level.

Masters Degree Programs

Graduate Minor in Anthropology

A minor in anthropology is earned by taking at least 6 credit hours in courses at the 500- or 600- level in Anthropology as approved by the student’s advisor and the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Quick Links


Anthropology Links

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Contact Us

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Smith Hall 727
One John Marshall Drive
Huntington, WV 25755-2678
Tel: 304-696-6700
Fax: 304-696-2803