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Two elements of the anthropology major are particularly useful in a world increasingly marked by global movements of populations: a foundational knowledge of the societies and cultures of distinct parts of the world and a grasp of the methods by which those societies may be studied in a respectful manner. An appreciation for the complexity of cultures is a critical skill in any profession that reaches across social divides.

Required Courses

*Those offered by Smith's anthropology department, by anthropologists with appointments in other Smith departments or programs, or by anthropologists at other approved colleges or universities in the United States and abroad.

**A maximum of two language courses may count toward this requirement.

The Colloquium

The colloquium is an introduction to anthropological methods and will have different topics based on the choice of the professor who offers it in a given year. No one topic is likely to be of equal interest to all students, but it is important to remember that unlike other courses, the specific subject matter is less important than the skills that the class aims to convey. The class will include instruction in both qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as in the process of defining a research problem and writing a research proposal.

Transfer Credit

You are welcome to take anthropology seminars off campus and they can count toward the major, but they may not replace a Smith class for the seminar requirement. The only exceptions will be for students with an established focus in biological anthropology or linguistics; since we do not offer seminars in these subfields, we will consider a petition to have the seminar requirement fulfilled off campus.

Choosing an Adviser

You may be tempted to ask the faculty member you had in an introductory class to serve as your adviser, but the best idea is to find a member of the department who shares your interests (geographical and/or topical) and from whom you are likely to take at least two classes. That way, your adviser will get to know you well enough to provide guidance and write useful letters of reference. Look at the biographies of department members and see whose research and teaching aligns with your anticipated direction. Plan to stop by to talk with your prospective adviser during his or her office hours. You may change your adviser at any time.

Foreign Language Requirement

Language is central to how people develop a worldview. Since anthropology is dedicated to the profound knowledge of cultures, language learning is a foundational skill. Majors must show a competency in one foreign language equivalent to four semesters of college-level classes. You may demonstrate this level of competency by completing language courses at the intermediate level or by certification from a language instructor. For languages that are not represented at Smith, you can select a qualified evaluator in consultation with your adviser.

Funding is available for majors seeking financial assistance in language instruction. See Nancy "Penny" Schwartz Fund.

Biological Anthropology Exception

Students who focus their major in biological anthropology may replace the language requirement with two courses in mathematics and/or natural science if the courses serve as an essential foundation for advanced work in this subfield and are above the 100 level. Any alternative for the language requirement will be developed in consultation with an adviser and must be part of an overall plan of studies approved by the entire department. The alternative to the language requirement is considered exceptional and must be justified by a well-considered curricular plan.

Special Studies

A junior or senior wishing to pursue individualized study that is not available in another course, or to pursue more advanced study within a topic, may enroll in Special Studies (Anthropology 404a, b, or 408d).

Special studies may also grow out of an internship experience or a project undertaken during study abroad. Special studies sometimes serve as the basis for a subsequent honors project. It is the student's responsibility to propose a project to a faculty member, keeping in mind that the work associated with a special study must be equivalent to that required in a regular course carrying the same number of credits. Special studies may involve the development of an annotated bibliography that will serve as the basis for an honors project, a seminar-like research paper, an exhibit of creative work (e.g., documentary video, photography, dance), or any other product agreed to by the student and the supervising faculty member. Faculty members may not be able to accept a special study if they are insufficiently knowledgeable about the proposed subject or if they have already agreed to supervise others for that semester.

You must secure the agreement of a faculty member well in advance to supervise a particular project prior to enrolling in the course.

Study Abroad

Anthropology majors are encouraged to consider an academic program abroad during junior year. For more information, visit the Study Abroad page.

Research with Human Subjects

Students must obtain prior approval from the Smith College Institutional Review Board for any research with human subjects, even if it is carried out under the supervision of persons affiliated with other institutions. The approval that a non-Smith project may have received from some other review board may not substitute a review by Smith's IRB, although your application for approval may cite pre-existing approval.