Biological Anthropology

The study of the physical development of the human species in the context of other primates.

Biological Anthropology at UC San Diego addresses the evolution of the culture-bearing capacity in humans and closely related species from a strongly comparative perspective. Humans, today, are a super-dominant species. How we got this way fires up public and scientific imaginations; yet while there are many theories and speculations about our origins none has yet provided a full explanation of our evolutionary history. The difficulties go beyond the mere facts to profound philosophical issues including ones extremely relevant to the modern human predicament.

We believe that the answers can come only from the type of intra-, inter-, and cross-disciplinary collaborations we represent. We aim to understand the origins, organization complexity and socioecology of nonhuman primate societies. We explore the relationship between socioecology and the neural substrates of complex behavior in primates. We study and reconstruct subsistence strategies of humans and nonhuman primates within varied environments and social systems. We consider the constraints or consequences of food resources (energy availability) on energy expenditure and neural organization.

We are involved in applying our scientific knowledge to the conservation of primate species and habitats. We emphasize bioarchaeology in reconstructing prehistoric human diet, ecology, and migration patterns. We bridge with neurosciences and cognitive science in investigating the neural substrates of cognition in humans.

See what research our faculty are currently involved in!


The Biological Anthropology major consists of 12 upper division courses (48.0 units).  There are no lower division requirements.  All courses must be taken for a letter grade of C- or better.

Major Requirements

  •  Three Core Courses (All students will take the following:)
    • ANTH 101: Foundations of Social Complexity
    • ANTH 102: Humans are Cultural Animals
    • ANTH 103: Sociocultural Anthropology
  • Four Upper Division Biological Concentration Courses
    • Students will take four upper division biological courses (ANBI)
  • Five Upper Division Anthropology Electives
Please note: Lower division courses can overlap between your major, minor, and college requirements.  Students may overlap two upper division courses between your major and minor by submitting a request in the Virtual Advising Center (VAC)

Biological Anthropology Degree Check

Sample Four Year Plan

Sample Two Year Plan

Two Year Plan
See: Major Requirement FAQ's and Resources