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Advising for Anthropology Majors

Not everyone who takes Anthropology courses is planning to major in the discipline. Any member of the Anthropology faculty will be glad to talk to you informally about the field and our class offerings, regardless of your major. If you are considering an Anthropology major, but have not yet declared, don't hesitate to engage in the formal advising process. If you aren't sure who to talk to in the department, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Your Major Advisor

You need to choose a major advisor before you declare your major. Your major advisor is someone who can give you both general advice about the undergraduate curriculum and more specific advice about research, internships, and courses relating to your areas of interest.

When it's time to declare your major, take a few minutes to evaluate your goals and interests. Are you drawn to certain kinds of topics? What kinds of things do you like to study? Then review the geographical, research and teaching interests of our faculty members. Make a short list of the professors who have interests that most closely match your own. Don't discard the idea of choosing someone you've never studied with.

You may ask any Anthropology faculty member to be your major advisor. They will be glad to work with you if they can, but sometimes the person you'd like to approach will be on research leave for the semester. This shouldn't prevent you from signing on with another person as an advisor. You may change advisors without difficulty further down the road should you so choose.

Declaring Your Major

After you've found a major advisor, schedule a meeting with them. Before your meeting, complete the Declaration of Major Form [pdf] in pencil. You will go over this form during your meeting, and your major advisor will sign it. You will then get the form to the Registrar's Office.

The Declaration of Major form is a planning document. It does not commit you to a specific plan of study. We understand that your interests may change. However, the course sequence you plan ensures that you complete all the requirements, and reflects your desired focus within the field of anthropology.

You might plan a generalized course of study that includes equal numbers of electives among the four subfields. If you are strongly drawn to a particular subfield, you should plan your coursework accordingly. If you change your plan, make sure that you're still fitting in all the requriements. Your advisor can help.

After W&M

Often, students plan their coursework to get ready for graduate study in anthropology. Graduate schools in anthropology expect prospective applicants to have a firm idea about the research they plan to do. At the very least, you will have to choose a subfield or combination of subfields before applying for graduate work.

Discuss your plans with your major advisor. They can recommend specific courses that will support your application. They can also recommend specific schools that could support your goals.