Biological Anthropology, B.S.

Program Code: BANTH_BS

Begin Date of Enrollment Hold: April 12, 2018

Program Description

The Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Anthropology is offered by the Biological Anthropology Program in the Department of Anthropology.

The Bachelor of Science degree provides the opportunity to develop a strong foundation in research methods, quantification, and laboratory science. It prepares students with the skills and competencies needed to pursue graduate study or careers in professions associated with biological anthropology and related fields. Students contemplating futures in biomedical or forensic sciences should consult with Penn State's Premedicine Office or the specific forensic science graduate program to make certain that additional courses in organic chemistry and physics that are required for admission are completed.

What is Biological Anthropology?

Biological Anthropology is a subfield within Anthropology concerned with the study of past and present human variation from a biological perspective. Biological Anthropology focuses broadly on human evolutionary biology including topics such as human and primate evolution, human biological and genetic variation, human and primate behavior, evolutionary health, osteology, skeletal biology and biomechanics, and forensics.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are interested in human biological variation and evolution and want to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior, biology, and the human experience.
  • You want to study important questions such as ‘what makes humans unique?’ and ‘how did we evolve?’
  • You are interested in fossils, bones, behaviors, or genetics.
  • You want to pursue a career in anthropological research, medicine or other health professions, forensics, or the biological sciences.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have at least third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Anthropology, a minimum of 122 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 23-30
Requirements for the Major 67

13 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits GN courses; 4 credits GQ courses.

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of coursework in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ANTH 2NWorld Archaeology Keystone/General Education Course3
ANTH 21Introductory Biological Anthropology Keystone/General Education Course3
ANTH 45NCultural Diversity: A Global Perspective Keystone/General Education Course3
BIOL 110Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity Keystone/General Education Course4
STAT 200Elementary Statistics Keystone/General Education Course4
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select an additional 18 credits in ANTH elective courses 118
Select 15 Biological Anthropology credits from the following ranges: ANTH 401-419 or ANTH 460-47315
Select 8 credits of the following:8
Mammalian Anatomy
Biology: Molecules and Cells
Biology: Function and Development of Organisms
Functional Human Anatomy
Select 9 credits of the following:9
Introduction to Human Physiology Keystone/General Education Course
Medical Embryology
Human Physiology
Molecular and Cell Biology I
General Biochemistry
Functional Genomics
Human Genomics and Biomedical Informatics

Select 18 credits in ANTH elective courses other than ANTH 1 and no more than 9 credits from 190-199, 290-299, 390-399, and 490-499 other than ANTH 297 and ANTH 497.

NOTE: Internships will be counted as elective credits.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

Career Paths

Graduates with a B.S. in Biological Anthropology from Penn State excel in diverse professional careers including academic research, medicine, education, osteology, and forensics. Biological Anthropology students develop strong skills in research methods, quantification, laboratory science, problem-solving, and effective oral and written communication. Students are strongly encouraged to become involved in departmental research while at Penn State to augment their training and enhance their prospects for employment or graduate study.


Possible career paths include:

  • Advanced research in the field
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Health professions
  • Public health
  • Forensics


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Biological Anthropology majors will find that their undergraduate education is excellent preparation for the advanced training required for many professions. Our majors often go on to receive specialized graduate instruction in medicine, dentistry, forensics, and scientific research. Although many professional schools require that undergraduate applicants have specialized training (for example, chemistry courses for pre-med students), such course requirements are easily accommodated within the biological anthropology major. Most professional schools and graduate programs seek well-rounded, broadly educated applicants who can understand the implications of the advanced, specialized training they will receive in post-graduate training.


Professional Resources


University Park

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University Park, PA 16802