College of Liberal Arts

Department of Anthropology

Evolutionary Anthropology Program

Evolutionary anthropology may be defined as the comparative and historical study of the culture, genes, morphology, and behavior of humans and other primates conducted within an evolutionary framework. Evolutionary anthropologists use the conceptual and analytical tools of evolutionary biology to address questions such as:

  • Why do diurnal primates live in groups, and why has the size of human groups tended to expand through time?
  • How has climate change affected human biological and cultural evolution?
  • What impact has culture had on human biological evolution? In what ways does culture extend the properties of biology?
  • Why do male hunters share the meat they obtain; how do sharing arrangements for other goods and services evolve; and how are they maintained?
  • Why are some people able to drink milk while others get sick if they consume dairy products?
  • How can models of culture change be simulated?

The evolutionary anthropology graduate program at WSU organizes and builds upon the strengths of the faculty to provide graduate students with cutting-edge training and coursework that combines theoretical sophistication with analytical rigor. Unlike other programs in evolutionary anthropology, the interests and expertise of the WSU faculty offer a uniquely broad range of courses, covering some of the most important strains of evolutionary anthropological research. These include: behavioral ecology, evolutionary cultural anthropology, and evolutionary archaeology. Current faculty research examines important questions about the phylogenetics and reproductive endocrinology of primates, the evolution of human behaviors such as cooperation and food-sharing, hunting, parental strategies and investment, and the development of material culture. Faculty and graduate student research interests span several continents including the Americas and Africa.

As with other graduate programs in the Department of Anthropology, the evolutionary anthropology program is committed to fostering and strengthening intellectual interactions between students and faculty. Once a week we hold a journal club meeting, which provides a forum for graduate students and faculty to interact in an informal setting and exchange ideas about current articles and issues in evolutionary anthropology. In addition, we also hold brownbag meetings where students and faculty discuss their current research. Participation in both groups is voluntary, but students are strongly encouraged to become involved.

The M.A. and Ph.D. programs train professional anthropologists and archaeologists with a strong sense of how evolutionary theory articulates with different questions about human genes, anatomy and behavior. Core and topical course requirements emphasize providing students with a strong theoretical platform that can be applied to more specific research in biological and cultural anthropology and archaeology. Both M.A. and Ph.D. students can select from a range of elective courses to develop a more individualized and specific program of study. Depending on their research interests, students can design an interdisciplinary degree and select elective courses from a variety of allied fields including biology, zoology, geology, psychology, medical and veterinary science and mathematics. Both programs stress the importance of fieldwork to generate original research and the use of a hypothetico-deductive framework to analyze data. Incoming students with appropriate prior coursework and/or training may be allowed to waive specific courses on a petition basis. All students are asked to identify a principal advisor during their first semester in the program and file a program of study during their second semester.

The M.A. degree is appropriate for students who anticipate pursuing a doctoral degree in anthropology or an appropriate allied field. The M.A. degree requires a minimum of 32 credit hours. Graduation requires a written thesis based on original research, as well as a successful oral defense. The Ph.D. degree prepares students for a professional academic or research career. Incoming Ph.D. candidates are expected to have completed a M.A. (or equivalent degree) in anthropology or an appropriate allied field. The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours. Candidates are required to successfully pass preliminary exams. Graduation requires a written dissertation based on original research, as well as a successful oral defense. Students wishing to defend a thesis or dissertation must submit a complete draft to the committee on or before March 10 to defend in the spring semester or October 20 to defend in the fall semester. The complete draft is reviewed by the student's committee chair. If approved the thesis or dissertation is then reviewed by the other members of the student's committee. Theses or dissertations not submitted on or before these dates are not guaranteed consideration for a defense during the desired semester.


Requirements for the M.A. Program in Evolutionary Anthropology


Required Core Courses

Students must take all of the following:

  • ANTH 510 Fundamentals of Cultural Anthropology [3 units]
  • ANTH 530 Introduction to Archaeological Method and Theory [3 units]
  • ANTH 537 Quantitative Methods in Anthropology [4 units]
  • ANTH 562 Evolutionary Method and Theory in Anthropology and Archaeology [3 units]

Evolutionary Topic Courses

Any three of the following:

  • ANTH 547 Models and Simulation [3 units]
  • ANTH 548 Hunter and Gatherers Past and Present [3 units]
  • ANTH 561 Current Trends in Physical Anthropology [3 units]
  • ANTH 563 Anthropology of Life and Death [3 units]
  • ANTH 564 Advances in Evolution & Human Behavior [3 units]
  • ANTH 565 Human Evolution [3 units]
  • ANTH 569 Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology [3 units]

Thesis Research Hours

  • ANTH 700 Master's Research, Thesis and/or Examination [minimum 4 units]

Electives

  • Electives emphasizing research methods and skills [to be agreed on with the graduate committee, minimum 6 units]

Requirements for the Ph.D. program in Evolutionary Anthropology


Required Core Courses

Students must take all of the following:

  • ANTH 510 Fundamentals of Cultural Anthropology [3 units]
  • ANTH 530 Introduction to Archaeological Method and Theory [3 units]
  • ANTH 537 Quantitative Methods in Anthropology [4 units]
  • ANTH 562 Evolutionary Method and Theory in Anthropology and Archaeology [3 units]

Evolutionary Topic Courses

Six of the following:

  • ANTH 547 Models and Simulation [3 units]
  • ANTH 548 Hunter and Gatherers Past and Present [3 units]
  • ANTH 561 Current Trends in Physical Anthropology [3 units]
  • ANTH 563 Anthropology of Life and Death [3 units]
  • ANTH 564 Advances in Evolutionary and Human Behavior [3 units]
  • ANTH 565 Human Evolution [3 units]
  • ANTH 569 Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology [3 units]

Electives

  • Electives, including at least six hours emphasizing research methods and skills [to be agreed on with the graduate committee, minimum 21 units]

Dissertation Research Hours

  • ANTH 800 Doctoral Research, Dissertation and/or Examination [minimum 20 units]
One-page pdf admission checklist

Graduate Coordinator
Rob Quinlan
rquinlan@wsu.edu

Student Representative
Shane Macfarlan
shanemacfarlan@hotmail.com

Meet the Evolutionary Anthropology Faculty


 

PDF version of
Course Requirements
for M.A & Ph.D. degrees

 

 

Main Office Contact Info:

College Hall 150
PO Box 644910
Pullman, WA 99164-4910
Phone: 509.335.3441
FAX: 509.335.3999

 

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Department of Anthropology, PO Box 644910, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4910, 509-335-3441, Contact Us