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Anthropology Major with Health Emphasis


Alpha Epsilon Delta

University Med School

Preprofessional Advising (Premed)

Premed Resources

Osteopathic Medicine

Occupational Therapy (OT)


Nursing information session


Physician's Assistant

Public Health

Physical Therapy

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism


Exercise and Sports Science






































































































































































































Why Anthropology?

Students with a broader perspective are now in demand by medical schools nationwide. A Newsweek article on the topic summarizes this trend by saying that "medical educators are looking beyond biology and chemistry majors in the search for more well-rounded students who can be molded into caring and analytic doctors.'' This perspective is shared by the University of Utah School of Medicine Office of Admissions and by other health professions schools in Utah and nationwide.

The Anthropology Major with Health Emphasis is designed to meet this need. The program satisfies the curricular requirements of medical and other health-related professional schools while at the same time educating students about

  • The interactions between biological, environmental and social factors influencing health and illness, and
  • Human adaptation and maladaptation from an evolutionary perspective
“My education in Anthropology [at the University of Utah] was a superb preparation for medical school. It provided a perspective on human behavior that encouraged a deeper understanding of how health and disease are created, influenced and ultimately treated...The added skill of integrating [basic science] knowledge with human behavior made me a very attractive candidate for the admission board at the University of Utah School of Medicine. It was an attribute that helped me stand out from the crowd seeking admission at that time.” -John Dodson, M.D.

 Program of Study

The health emphasis track has two components:

  1. Core courses that must be taken by all students in the health emphasis track. These will also satisfy the requirements for the bachelors degree in Anthropology.
  2. Allied courses required for medical school or for another professional school. If you are interested in a professional school that isn't listed, please see advisor Shawn Carlyle for approval. These two components are described in detail below. Admission to most professional schools requires more than coursework, however, so be sure to consult with the University Preprofessional Advising Office for additional guidance about preparation for health-related professional schools. Also, take a look at Alpha Epsilon Delta, the University of Utah pre-med honors society. Contact them at aedutah@gmail.

Core Course Requirements

All courses must be completed with a “C” grade or better and one must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. G.E. & Bachelor's Degree Requirements [indicated in square brackets].

These core courses provide 25 of the 40 required upper division hours.

Statistics: 1 course (3-4 hrs) Any of the following:
ECON 3640 (3 hrs) [QB]
FCS 3210 (4 hrs) [QB,QI]
PSY 3000 (4 hrs) [QB,QI]
SOC 3112 (4 hrs) [QB,QI]
MATH 1070 (3 hrs) [QB]
MATH 3070 (4 hrs) [QA,QB,QI]
Other statistics courses may be substituted with permission of student's advisor.

Introductory Anthropology: 3 courses (9 hrs)
1010 Culture & the human experience [BF]
PLUS any two of:
1020 Human origins: evolution and diversity [SF]
1030 World prehistory: An introduction [BF]
1050 The evolution of human nature [SF]
1070 Introduction to Linguistics in Anthropology

ANTH 3001, Study Resources in Anthropology: 1 course (1 hr)

Health Emphasis topical requirements: 2 courses 
4252 Human Biology

PLUS at least one of:
4133 Maternal and Child Health 4291 Evolution of Human Health
4234 Genes, Health & Human History
4450 The Biology of Human Growth & Development

Geographical area courses: 2 courses (6 hrs)
Any two of Anthropology 3111-3961.

The following fulfill Gen Ed requirements:
DV: 3111, 3112
IR: 3121, 3126, 3127, 3131, 3153, 3154

Health Emphasis topical electives: 3 courses
Three courses from the following list (in addition to above):

2221 Birth, Death and Populations                                                                                                                         3211 Biology of Native Americans
4130 The Anthropology of Food
4133 Maternal and Child Health
4183 Sex and Gender
4193 Medical Anthropology
4231 Social Consequences of Human Biol Diversity                                                                                               4234 Genes, Health and Human History
4242 Anthropology of Clinical Health Care
4271 Human Osteology
4272 Forensic Anth (pre-req 4271 Hum Osteology)
4291 Evolution of Human Health
4334 Population Issues in Anthropology
4461 Behavioral Ecology and Anthropology                                                                                                             4470 Evolution of The Family                                                                                                                                        4481 Evolutionary Psychology                                                                                                                                     5221 Human Evolutionary Genetics (4 hrs) [QI]

In addition to the courses listed above, health emphasis students must complete the admission requirements for medical school or for another professional health-related graduate program.

Choose one of the options listed below and inform the anthropology advisor of your choice.

Allied Course Requirements

Allied Hours (all courses must be at least 3 credit hours)

Natural science: 3 Courses

Any 3 courses from Biology, Chemistry, and/or Physics

Electives: 2 courses

Strongly Recommended: HSP 5000 Health, Society, and Policy Capstone

Other Elective Options:

Biology (any course)                                                                                                                                                     Chemistry (any course)                                                                                                                                                 Physics  (any course)                                                                                                                                                     Psychology  (any course)                                                                                                                                             Nutrition  (any course)                                                                                                                                                 FPMD 4500 (Public Health: A Global Perspective)                                                                                                   FPMD 5005 (Introduction to the Medical Profession)                                                                                             Philosophy 3520 (Bioethics)                                                                                                                                       Sociology 3671 (Sociology of Health)                                                                                                                     Sociology 3673 (Social Epidemiology)

  Required and recommended course preparation is given below for several health-related professional careers, including medicine, osteopathy, occupational therapy, nursing, gerontology, physician's assistant, and public health. Courses listed are based on University of Utah graduate programs; those of another program may be substituted with the advisor's permission.

Students can research affordable programs in health-related fields which have a track record of positive student outcomes.


Requirements for admission to medical school go beyond course work and include extra-curricular activities, voluntary service, leadership, research, patient shadowing (following doctors around to see what they do), and patient exposure (direct interaction with sick people).

Anthropology 4990, which mentors you in independent hypothesis-testing research, is designed to help you with the research component of these requirements.

The MINIMUM basic science coursework required for admission to the University of Utah medical school is:

-Physics 2010 and its lab (2015)
-Physics 2020 and its lab (2025)
-Chemistry 1210 and its lab (1215)
-Chemistry 1220 and its lab (1225)
-Chemistry 2310 and its lab (2315)
-Chemistry 2320 and its lab (2325)
-Two biology courses, one of which must be cell biology or biochemistry

After consulting with medical school faculty, students, and anthro alums who went to medical school, we VERY STRONGLY RECOMMEND that all pre-med students take all three of the following courses, with their associated labs:

-Biology 3510 Biochemistry I
-Biology 2020 Cell Biology
-Biology 2325 Human Anatomy

People who have been through the first demanding year of medical school view these as essential preparation, and most of your classmates will have taken these courses as undergraduates.

The following courses will also be extremely valuable and are recommended. None is itself essential, but the more preparation you have, the easier time you will have during your first two years of medical school:

-Biology 2420 Human Physiology
-Biology 2030 Genetics
-Biology3230 Developmental biology
-Biology 3130 Molecular and cellular physiology

You might also find it useful to take:
Physics 3111, which is an MCAT preparatory class

For further information, see:

The University School of Medicine
The Pre-Professional Advising Office
A Career in Medical Health: Guidebook to Medical Careers and Opportunities


Osteopathic physicians (D.O.) emphasize primary care but are licensed to practice medicine in all specialty areas. They are similar to MDs but their training and approach emphasize the health of the whole person.

Course requirements are similar to those for other pre-meds, and applicants also take the MCAT. There are no programs in Utah (although many D.O.s practice here), but this may be a good fit for anthropology undergraduates interested in a career in medicine. If you are interested, see the following:
American Osteopathic Association
Premed Resources
Students interested in osteopathic medicine should follow the pre-med sequence above.


Occupational therapists make it possible for people with a variety of challenges to function successfully. Faculty in the OT program here at Utah consider Anthropology to be an excellent major for those interested in pursuing this career.

Admission to the OT program here requires completion of the following additional courses: 

-Human Anatomy (with lab) – BIOL 2325 
-Human Physiology -- BIOL 2420
-Kinesiology or General Physics – KINES 3092 or PHYS 2010
-Human Development -- FCS 1500 or alternates (see web)
-Cultural Anthropology

-Abnormal Psychology – PSY 2300
-Sociology or Health Ed or Special Ed or Gerontology

-Statistics – PSY 3000
-Medical Terminology  -- H EDU 3030
-Studio Arts (grade not required)

Frequently check the College of Health for course numbers and requirement changes.

OT faculty contacts:
Yda Smith

Academic Advisor: Kelly Brown


The University of Utah College of Nursing has an Accelerated Baccalaureate program for students who already have a bachelor's degree and want to become nurses. They also have education programs leading to a variety of more advanced post-graduate degrees, both research-focused and practice-focused. To enter a graduate nursing program (to become a nurse practitioner, for example) or to earn a practice doctorate in nursing (the DNP), you need a baccalaureate degree in nursing first.

Students can research their options for affordable and highly-ranked nursing programs.

Two of the faculty members in the U of U's school of nursing, Lauren Clark and Janice Morse, are nurse anthropologists.

Prospective students seeking entry to the baccalaureate program in nursing must attend an information session before making an appointment to meet individually with the Pre-Nursing or Nursing Advisor.

The following 10 courses must be completed before admission, and the starred courses must be completed at the time of application. Frequently check the College of Nursing for course numbers and requirement changes.

-*Biology 1210, General Biology
-*Biology 2325, Human Anatomy
-*Biology 2420, Human Physiology
-*Chemistry 1110, General Chemistry
-*Chemistry 1120, Bio/organic Chemistry
-*Math 1070, Statistics
-Nutrition 3010, Nutrition Intervention
-FCS 1500 or Nursing 2000, Growth and Development
-Pathology 3100, Introduction to Medical Microbiology
-Nursing 2270, Pathophysiology


The University of Utah has an interdisciplinary graduate program in Gerontology. There are many careers possibilities in this field, some with a focus on health. The U offers both a certificate program and a master's degree program.

If you are interested in the Gerontology program at the University of Utah, there are no specific admission requirements. Students interested in pursuing this career path should design an appropriate set of pre-professional courses with the assistance of the gerontology faculty advisors, as well as get approval from the anthropology advisor.


Physician's Assistants practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. They may work closely with physicians, or they may be primary care providers in rural or inner-city clinics where a physician is present for only one or two days each week. See the following for more information:
American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
Physician Assistants Resources
Learn How to Become a Physician Assistant: Career Guidebook

View the University of Utah's Physician Assistants program for more information, course numbers and requirement changes.
Entrance requirements include the following coursework:
-Biology 2325, Human Anatomy with lab
-Biology 2420, Human Physiology with lab
-Chemistry, any two courses (with labs)
-One additional biology course relevant to the human body

Three years of medically-related experience, especially paid employment, are strongly weighted in the application.


Public health professionals work to promote health and prevent disease in communities. Some areas of specialization within public health include:
-Health Education/Behavioral Science
-Environmental Health
-International Health
-Health Services Administration
-Maternal and Child Health
-Public Health Administration and Policy
-Public Health Nutrition
-Public Health Practice

Students interested in applying to a program in public health should think carefully about which area they want to specialize in, and then design an appropriate set of pre-professional courses with the assistance of the anthro advisor and a faculty mentor.

There are many schools of Public Health across the nation. If you are interested in a public health career, here are some websites that you may find of interest:
Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health

Affordable Public Health Programs 

The University of utah does not have a School of Public Health, but has a growing Public Health program that grants degrees in the field.

Check these links for more information:

Master's degree guide in Public Health (MPH)

Public Health Job Resources

Resources & Tools for Public Health Students

Becoming a Public Health Professional

 Other Programs

There are several professional degrees offered by the College of Health. See the following links for further information on graduate training in:
Physical Therapy
Parks, Recreation and Tourism
Exercise and Sports Science
Colleges and University Opportunity: A guidebook to a successful career

The pre-professional advising office has information on:
-Veterinary medicine
In addition to further information about pre-med and pre-osteopathy.

If you are interested in one of these other programs, or in one not listed, please contact advising.

Last Updated: 1/28/19