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Graduate Anthropology Program

Biological Anthropology

image of bones on a blue table cloth

The Anthropology Department at the University of Oklahoma has a broadly-based Master's program in biological anthropology, and offers a Ph.D. in Anthropology with an emphasis on Human Health and Biology. Our Human Health and Biology track is an integrative Biological and Medical Anthropology Ph.D. program focusing on the adaptation, evolution, and behaviors of human ancestors and contemporary populations. The primary specialization areas of the faculty and the biological anthropology academic program are genetic/molecular anthropology, medical anthropology, paleopathology, demography, human-animal interactions, and biocultural adaptation.

The University of Oklahoma offers a broad range of graduate-level biological and medical anthropology courses, including Population Genetics, Anthropology and the Health of Indigenous People, Gender and Health, the Anthropology of Aging, Human Adaptability, Medicine and Society, Human Variation, Theory and Method in Biological Anthropology, and Human Evolutionary History. 

Image: What do fractures say about human-animal interactions in the past? Fractured (left) versus normal femur of a domestic dog from the Late Archaic Flint River site, Alabama

Special topics courses and seminars in biological anthropology and advanced biological anthropology are also offered. Recent special topics courses and seminars include Biology of Poverty. Please see the OU course catalog for a complete list of anthropology courses. Please click here to see the courses offered during the current and upcoming semester.

photo of Christina Warinner

Master's students complete 25-28 hours of course work and a thesis (2-5 hours). Master's course work includes a core course in biological anthropology and in two of the three following subfields: archaeology, linguistics, or sociocultural anthropology. Students also take elective course work focused in biological anthropology. Please see the Graduate Program Requirements for details.

The wide variety of independent research opportunities in biological anthropology for the Master's and Ph.D. programs include research at the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR), the Oklahoma Archeological Survey, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and with Anthropology faculty members.

Ph.D. students in the Human Health and Biology track are required to take four core courses in biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and sociocultural anthropology, if they have not already done so in their Master's program, an advanced theory course (Theoretical Foundations of Biological and Medical Anthropology), as well as two additional methods courses. Ph.D. requirements include 90 hours of credit (61 credit hours of course work plus 29 hours of dissertation research). Please see the Graduate Program Requirements for details.

Dr. Hirschfeld with a statue of Charles Darwin

Students conduct their thesis, dissertation, and other graduate-level research in consultation with the faculty. To aid in this process, each graduate student is assigned a faculty mentor upon entry into the program. That individual may or may not ultimately become the student's committee chair. The wide variety of independent research opportunities in biological anthropology for the Master's and Ph.D. programs include research at the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR), the Oklahoma Archeological Survey, the Center for Applied Social Research, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and with Anthropology faculty members.

Recent student research focused on biological anthropology and/or medical anthropology includes:

  • Wister Valley Fourche Maline: A Contested Landscape (Ph.D. dissertation)
  • Measuring Mimbres Populational Health Status During the Pithouse to Pueblo Transition (M.A. thesis). 
  • Parents' Perceptions on Medical Care and Services for their Children with Down Syndrome in Tulsa, Oklahoma (M.A. thesis). 
  • Sherwood Washburn's Continuing Legacy (M.A. thesis). 
  • Perception and Management of Type II Diabetes: The Narrated Experience of Diabetes in an Absentee Shawnee Community (M.A. thesis). 
  • Mortuary Variability at the McDuffee Site (3CG21): A Middle Mississippian Site From Northeastern Arkansas (M.A. thesis).
  • Health Maintenance in Lima, Oklahoma: Intersections of Folk Medicine, Spirituality and Biomedicine (M.A. thesis). 
  • A Cross-Cultural Study of Adaptations to Chronic Arthritis in Hispanic-Americans (M.A. thesis).
  • A Prospective Cohort Study of Maternal Factors in Childhood Asthma: Parity, Obesity, Fetal Growth, and Social Stressors (Ph.D. dissertation).