BA in Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of human diversity over time and  space. Undergraduates majoring in Anthropology at San Francisco State are exposed to a multi-field approach that examines current cultures (and especially the use of anthropology for contemporary social change), as well as the remains of past societies, the evolution of humankind, and the socio-politics of human interactions and institutions. The aim is to understand what it means to be human. In equal measures, the Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology serves both students who wish to gain from their formal education a highly respected undergraduate degree in one of social sciences’ most established fields as well as students who wish to carry forward their study of Anthropology (or of another related discipline such as medicine, law, political sciences, or government) to the level of the Masters and Doctorate.

Students who pursue a BA in the San Francisco State Anthropology Program acquire knowledge about the foundation of the discipline though required core classes. They then apply that knowledge to particular areas, regions and periods of human experience. In this way, the BA in Anthropology provides a thorough grounding in the basic concepts of the discipline. No subfield concentration is required for the baccalaureate degree in anthropology, however, several sequences of courses are recommended for students who want to concentrate in a particular subfield.  

Faculty advising is a fundamental part of each student’s orchestration of their undergraduate career. Majors are required to meet with an adviser every fall semester to discuss the most appropriate course sequence.  Advisors can also discuss the potential for participation in programs such as Study Abroad, internships and field schools.

Program overview

For students who entered the program before the Fall of 2011, consult the bulletin for the year you declared your major (click here for undergrad info prior to F11). Students who would like to switch to the new curriculum should consult their advisor.

To complete the Undergraduate program in Anthropology at San Francisco State, a student must complete 39 units of classes which are divided into three types:

  1. Foundation Core
  2. Area Specialisms
  3. Electives

At least one upper division course (Area 1, Area 2, or electives) must be taken in each of the three subfields: biological, cultural/visual, and archaeology. No more than 6 units can be taken in internships (ANTH 695), independent study (ANTH 699), and teaching (ANTH 685) combined.

Courses taken in fulfillment of major requirements must be taken for a letter grade (no CR/NC).

ANTH 305 GW: Writing Anthropology must be completed with a grade of C or better before enrolling in other upper division courses.

Foundation Core

All students must take the following 15 units of Foundation Core classes.

ANTH 100 Introduction to Biological Anthropology (3 units)
Human beings in relation to the animal kingdom, geological time, and human evolution; fossil humans; human heredity; anthropometry; criteria of race; racial theories and problems.

ANTH 110 Introduction to Archaeology (3 Units)
Old and New World prehistory: discovery and invention, domestication of plants and animals, science, technology, and other aspects of culture.

ANTH 120 Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (3 Units)
Principles and concepts of sociocultural anthropology. People and environment. Social relations: kinship, religion, social control, racism. Social change and applied anthropology.

ANTH 300 Foundations of Anthropology: History (3 Units)
Theoretical foundations of anthropology: major trends in anthropological thought and practice up to the present.

ANTH 305GW Writing Anthropology - GWAR (3 Units) Advanced development of writing skills in anthropology. 

Area Specialisms

Area 1: Theory and Foundations

All students must take a minimum of three units of the following Foundations Classes.

ANTH 301 Foundations of Archaeology (3 Units)
Introduces and develops archaeological theory in its archaeological-anthropological paradigms with emphasis on the role of material culture.

ANTH 302 Foundations of Human Variation (3 Units)
Examines human adaptation and genetic variation from an evolutionary perspective; critical analysis of the social and biological concepts of race.

ANTH 420 Indigenous Media and Social Change (3 Units)
A critique of consumer culture and theories of ideology is developed as students produce their own contrapuntal “culture jams” in digital video.

Area 2: Methods and Practicum (3 - 6 units)

All students must take a minimum of 3 units of the following Methods classes.
ANTH 333 Primate Behavior (3 Units)
Social behavior of prosimians, monkeys and apes and its interrelationship with the environment.  Students will be required to collect behavioral observation data at the zoo.  

ANTH 530 Human Osteology Practicum (4 Units)
Human skeleton, bone dynamics, and anthropometric and morphological analysis of modern and fossil skeletal materials. Research on osteological and fossil materials.

ANTH 531 Fossil Human Practicum (4 Units)
The fossil evidence for human evolution. Comparative primate anatomy and function; skeletal morphology of hominid fossils. Ecological and geological settings. Trends and processes in human evolution.

ANTH 557 Ethnography of the Inner City (4 Units)
Students select and conduct weekly ethnographic fieldwork sessions with inner city groups or organizations. The class develops theoretical models in which this research can be interpreted. Projects frequently explore conditions of strife and poverty, as well as the strategies of escape.

ANTH 592 Archaeological Field Methods (4 Units)
Archaeological theory and methods; field reconnaissance, research design, excavation and laboratory methods; archaeological chronology, typology, cartography, photography, and other skills. Classwork, 2 units; laboratory, 2 units. (Formerly ANTH 491)

ANTH 593 Archaeological Excavation & Data Analysis (6 Units)
Archaeological research: field experience (15 days) in sampling strategy, excavation, cartography, photography, and site survey; laboratory analysis of material.

ANTH 594 Field Methods in Archaeological Technology (6 Units)
The literature, method, and theory related to geophysical remote sensing technologies.

ANTH 595 Visual Anthropology I (6 Units)
This class is the first of two semesters in which anthropological field research and training in filmmaking are dedicated to the development of a film collaboration with an activist community group.

ANTH 596 Visual Anthropology II (4 Units)
This class combines advanced training in field research methods with the development of digital video skills. Community collaborators, for whom the films are ultimately produced, contribute significantly to film-editing decisions.

ANTH 651 Ethnographic Field Methods (6 Units)
Anthropological data-gathering methods, participant observation, scheduled and open-ended interview, life history, survey, questionnaire, projective techniques, electronic aids.

ANTH 652 Anthropological Statistics (4 Units)
Methods and techniques for analysis of data: collecting and describing data; statistical inference and hypothesis testing; parametric and non-parametric techniques; SPSS training for data analysis.

Electives in Anthropology (9-12 Units)

All students must take 9 to 12 elective units in upper-division Anthropology courses, depending on units completed in Area 2 Methods.

University-Wide Electives (6 Units)

The university-wide electives may be taken in anthropology or in a related field.  Course without and ANTH prefix must be pre-approved by an adviser to quality as credits toward the major.

Consult with an advisor to be sure you meet the requirement of one upper division course (Area 1, Area 2, or electives) in each of the three subfields: biological, cultural/visual, and archaeology.


  1. The regulations for the BA in Anthropology and the class descriptions included on this website are for information only. All students are urged to consult the current San Francisco State University Bulletin for the most up-to-date and authoritative information.
  2. For up-to-date availability of classes please visit the Class Schedule pages.

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For information and application materials for the undergraduate program at SFSU please contact:

Office of Admissions
Student Services Building
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132-4002

Telephone: (415)338-7238

For additional information concerning the Anthropology program please contact:

Department of Anthropology
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132-4155
Telephone: (415) 338-2046
Fax: (415) 338-0530