Undergraduate Program Requirements
for an A.B. in Anthropology
To major in Anthropology, a student should have taken – before the junior year – at least one course in anthropology or obtain special permission from the Departmental Representative.
For students in the Classes of 2014 and 2015: A minimum of eight departmental courses is required for an anthropology major. Majors in these classes are required to take ANT 201 (Foundational Concepts in Anthropology, previously Introduction to Anthropology), ANT 301 (The Ethnographer's Craft), and ANT 390 (History of Anthropological Theory). ANT 201, ANT 301 and ANT 390 are designed to prepare students for their junior and senior independent work.
The rest of each student’s courses may be chosen in accordance with his or her interests. Up to two courses from outside the Anthropology Department (in other departments at Princeton or under Study Abroad or a combination of the two) may be counted as COGNATE departmentals, so long as they are judged by the Departmental Representative to be relevant to a student’s Junior Paper or Senior Thesis. To count for the major, Anthropology courses must be taken for a grade and not pass/fail. Exceptionally well-prepared undergraduates may take graduate seminars for departmental credit. To enroll in a graduate seminar, the student must have the approval of the Departmental Representative and the instructor of the course.
For the Class of 2016 and beyond: The Anthropology Department has revised the major for concentrators who enroll as of spring, 2014.The prerequisite for the major will not change – it remains any anthropology course (at any level) or permission of the Departmental Representative.
The new minimum requirements consist of nine courses: ANT 300, ANT 301, ANT 390, any two courses at the 200-level (optionally including ANT 201), and four additional courses, at least one of which should be at the 300-level, and one at the 400-level. ANT 300 (Ethnography, Evidence and Experience), a course introduced as an elective in the fall, 2013, will be required beginning with the Class of 2016. ANT 300, ANT 301 and ANT 390 are designed to prepare students for their junior and senior independent work. Additionally, junior and senior seminars will support students' independent work. Other rules and requirements remain unchanged.
As in the current major, up to two courses taken outside the Anthropology Department may be taken for anthropology credit. These may be courses taken during study abroad, or courses in other departments at Princeton. Courses may be counted as cognates so long as they are judged by the Departmental Representative to be relevant to a student's junior or senior independent work. To count for the major, Anthropology courses must be taken for a grade and not pass/fail. Exceptionally well-prepared undergraduates may take graduate seminars for departmental credit. To enroll in a graduate seminar, the student must have the approval of the Departmental Representative and the instructor of the course.
Independent work in the junior year involves an original paper (the Junior Paper, or JP) based on library research. Normally, field research is not appropriate for this paper. Fall-semester work toward the JP involves independent library research, regular consultation with an adviser, and readings aimed at developing a research proposal and an annotated bibliography. This system gives the student a chance to explore interests with faculty guidance; many anthropology majors are unsure about topics in the fall of their junior year, and need time to investigate several interesting possibilities before settling on one. By the end of the fall semester, the student is expected to be making good headway on reading and to have developed a substantive topic. Spring-semester work toward the JP involves focused writing and revising, in consultation with the student’s adviser.
The JP in anthropology starts from preparation leading up to a literature review. The literature review should describe a set of texts (books, articles, essays, and other written sources) that have been consulted in the student’s research. But the literature review should go beyond a mere description or summary of the literature; the goal is to develop a critical evaluation, in terms of the authors’ use of evidence, methods of research, styles of interpretation, persuasiveness, and scope. An important job of the JP writer is to select, assemble, and read sources in a meaningful way, in the service of a coherent, overarching perspective on the literature under review – for example, as cumulative knowledge, a statement of issues in contention, or an analysis of implicit or explicit assumptions underlying the body of work the student has selected. Good models for anthropology literature reviews can be found in the Annual Review of Anthropology: http://www.annualreviews.org/journal/anthro.
Topics for JPs in anthropology are extremely variable; the topic should reflect a student’s real interests. Some students use the JP as preparation for their senior thesis research; however, this is neither required nor expected. The JP is meant to be a vehicle for students to implement their developing sense of what makes an analysis anthropological, and to consider how an anthropological perspective might make sense of issues and problems encountered outside the university, including, perhaps, domains of professional work to which the students aspire. Anthropology majors are therefore encouraged to review and re-use sources and ideas encountered in anthropology courses, as well as any other relevant courses taken, in developing the JP. While JP topics are completely open to individual interests – and may even concern phenomena about which professional anthropologists have not already written – the student needs to find some significant set of anthropological sources as an analytical context for making sense of the chosen topic. Faculty advisers can help make these connections. For an idea of the range of possible topics, students can browse JP titles from past years.
All senior anthropology majors write a thesis. The Anthropology Department encourages innovative and multidisciplinary projects, although all anthropology theses must engage or otherwise incorporate anthropological sources and reflect anthropological studies in some way. The research and critical reading skills that students develop in writing the Junior Paper are just as crucial to writing the senior thesis. Senior theses take many different forms in anthropology; many styles of writing and interpretation are valid. However a student approaches it, the thesis should address a clear research question, explain the significance of the question, critically engage literature relevant to the question, and present an analysis of data that bear on the question. Senior theses are expected to be based on original research, and are therefore more complex than JPs in their treatment of research topics. Correspondingly, they are also usually longer.
Senior theses in anthropology have focused on a wide variety of subjects and have been based on field, library, laboratory, and museum research. Some theses have also included creative components – for example, a theater production, photography exhibit, dance performance, or documentary film – but such projects must be accompanied by a substantial written essay. A compilation of senior thesis titles, including a list of prize-winning anthropology theses in recent years, can be found under Senior Thesis Titles. Bound copies of these and other past anthropology theses are filed on shelves in the Anthropology Department office; students are welcome to come to 216 Aaron Burr Hall and take a look. The Mudd Library has long provided an online catalog of all Princeton University senior thesis titles, searchable by author, department, and keyword. Beginning with the Class of 2013, the Mudd Library will make available online reading, within the Princeton domain, of all senior theses in its collection.
Students are welcome to consult any faculty member, within or outside the Anthropology Department, in developing their research. However, barring exceptional circumstances, an anthropology major’s thesis adviser will be a member of the Anthropology Department faculty. In the first weeks of the fall semester, seniors will be assigned a thesis adviser with whom to consult regularly all year.
Grade average for honors
Grade averages for Anthropology departmental honors are calculated from the student’s departmental courses, including cognates taken at Princeton. Recognition of cognates is made in the fall of the senior year by the Departmental Representative at the request of the student; cognate status is contingent on the relevance of the course to the student's junior or senior independent work. To receive credit towards the major in departmental courses (including cognates), Junior Paper, and Senior Thesis, a student must receive a grade of C or better.
Honors are calculated according to the following weighting system:
- Average grade in departmental courses, comprised of ANT 201, ANT 301, ANT 390, and five additional courses, including cognates (For majors in the Class of 2016 and beyond, the average grade will be comprised of the required and elective courses, including cognates, under the new major.): 60%
- Senior thesis: 25%
- Junior paper: 10%
- Senior departmental exam: 5%