About Us

Evolutionary anthropology is the study of humankind's place in nature. The central questions of this unique discipline revolve around how humans arose from our primate ancestors, how our distinctive attributes – such as enhanced cognitive abilities, striding bipedal locomotion, and our extraordinary connections with culture and technology – came to be, and why, from an evolutionary perspective, we behave the way we do.

Our department focuses on these questions, which connects us with our colleagues in the other natural and social sciences and in the humanities – with everyone who is working at some level on what it means to be human.

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Undergraduate Programs

We offer Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees. You can pursue a concentration in either Anatomy and Paleoanthropology or Behavior, Ecology and Cognition, or mix and match courses from different areas of interests within the discipline of evolutionary anthropology. You can also pursue a Comprehensive Science Teaching License, offered in collaboration with Duke's Education Program. Non-majors can pursue a minor in evolutionary anthropology.

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Featured Courses


An introduction to the basics of human osteological analysis. Identification and siding of all the bones of the human body and the major osteological landmarks on each bone; basics of bone histology… read more about Human Osteology »

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Covers evolutionary approaches to understand human health at a global scale. Integration of evolutionary thinking and medical science provides new insights to a wide array of medical issues including… read more about Human Health in Evolutionary Perspective »


Survey of field methods used to document primate behavior. Laboratory includes observations of free-ranging and captive primates at the Duke Lemur Center. Focus on the scientific process and writing… read more about Primate Field Biology »

Graduate Program

The Department of Evolutionary Anthropology offers Ph.D. students diverse training opportunities for the study of primate behavior, ecology, genetics, morphology, phylogenetics, and evolution.

Our doctoral program provides students with foundational course work and guides them through the development of a dissertation project. The program is designed to be completed in five years, and our students are fully funded (tuition, fees, health insurance, and stipend) by the Graduate School for that interval.

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Our Research & Labs

We focus on the evolutionary history of the mammalian radiation containing the human species and on the origins of human nature. By being taxon-based, evolutionary anthropology is inherently interdisciplinary, and brings techniques and concepts from a variety of traditional academic disciplines to bear on the core questions of who we are and where we came from. These disciplines include evolutionary biology, archaeology, geology, paleontology, behavioral ecology, genetics, developmental biology, psychology, economics and other social sciences.

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Degrees Offered
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Undergraduate Concentrations
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Research Fields & Labs