Anthropology College Major Guide 2024

What is an Anthropology Major?

Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. As an Anthropology major, you'll delve into the diverse aspects of human life, including our evolutionary origins, how we adapt to environments, and the ways our societies are organized. You'll learn to look beyond the surface of social interactions to understand deeper cultural meanings and contexts.

Top Courses Required for the Anthropology Major

When pursuing a degree in Anthropology, you will be required to take a variety of courses that cover the main subfields of the discipline: cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Here's a look at some of the top courses you might encounter:

  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: This foundational course explores the diversity of cultures around the world and introduces students to the concept of culture as a lens for understanding human behavior and social structures.

  • Archaeological Methods and Theory: Dive into the past through the study of material remains. This course covers excavation techniques, dating methods, and theoretical approaches used to interpret archaeological findings.

  • Biological Anthropology: Explore human evolution, genetics, and primatology. This course examines the biological and evolutionary foundations of human behavior.

  • Linguistic Anthropology: Learn about the role of language in social life. This course investigates how languages are structured, how they vary and change over time, and how they shape human interactions.

  • Ethnographic Methods: Gain hands-on experience in anthropological research methods. This course teaches students how to conduct fieldwork, including participant observation and ethnographic interviewing.

  • Anthropology of Religion: Examine religious beliefs and practices from a cross-cultural perspective. This course explores how religions contribute to social cohesion and conflict, identity formation, and cultural change.

  • Medical Anthropology: Investigate health, illness, and healing practices in different cultural contexts. This course addresses topics such as global health issues, medical ethics, and the impact of sociocultural factors on health.

By immersing yourself in these courses, you'll develop a broad understanding of human diversity and the skills necessary to analyze complex social phenomena. An Anthropology major equips you with critical thinking skills, cultural sensitivity, and a comprehensive framework for understanding human behavior—valuable assets in a wide range of careers.

Anthropology Major FAQs

What Can You Do With an Anthropology Degree?

The versatility of an anthropology degree opens the door to a plethora of career paths. Graduates find opportunities in various sectors, including:

  • Academic and Research Institutions: Engage in teaching or conduct detailed research in cultural, biological, archaeological, or linguistic anthropology.
  • Government and Policy Making: Work with local, state, or federal governments in cultural resource management, policy analysis, or public health.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): Serve in roles focused on human rights, social justice, and development projects.
  • Corporate Sector: Apply anthropological perspectives in market research, user experience design, and corporate culture analysis.
  • Museums and Historical Sites: Contribute to exhibit design, education programs, and preservation of cultural heritage.

Is an Anthropology Major Hard?

The challenge of an anthropology major varies based on your interests and strengths. Key points to consider include:

  • Interdisciplinary Nature: Anthropology integrates social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences, requiring a broad skill set.
  • Fieldwork Requirement: Some students find fieldwork demanding but also enriching as it offers hands-on experience in research.
  • Reading and Writing Intensive: Expect substantial reading on diverse cultures and significant writing assignments to analyze anthropological data.

What Skills Do You Gain from an Anthropology Major?

An anthropology major cultivates a unique set of skills that are valuable across many professions:

  • Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills: Analyze human behavior from various perspectives to understand underlying motives and consequences.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Develop a deep appreciation for diversity and the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Research Skills: Gain expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methods, including ethnography and statistical analysis.
  • Communication Skills: Learn to articulate complex ideas clearly and persuasively, both orally and in writing.

How to Choose the Right School for Your Anthropology Major?

Selecting the right school involves several considerations:

  • Faculty Expertise: Look for programs with faculty members who have experience in your area of interest within anthropology.
  • Research Opportunities: Prioritize institutions that offer ample opportunities for undergraduate research, fieldwork, or internships.
  • Curriculum Focus: Ensure the program offers courses or concentrations that align with your career goals (e.g., medical anthropology, forensic anthropology).
  • Alumni Network: A strong network can provide mentorship opportunities and ease the transition into your chosen career path.

What Are the Different Fields of Anthropology?

Anthropology is broadly divided into four main sub-fields:

  • Cultural Anthropology: Focuses on the study of cultures and societies across the globe.
  • Biological (Physical) Anthropology: Examines human biological diversity, evolution, and primatology.
  • Archaeology: Investigates past human societies through material remains.
  • Linguistic Anthropology: Explores language's role in social life, including its impact on identity, community, and culture.

Each sub-field offers unique perspectives on the complexities of human behavior and societies.

Anthropology Major Resources

Choosing to major in Anthropology opens up a world of discovery about human cultures, past and present. It's a field that spans the globe and delves into the intricacies of what it means to be human. To support you in your academic and professional journey, we've compiled a list of essential resources. These include professional associations you can join, industry publications to keep you informed, and other valuable tools to help you navigate your career path.

Professional Associations

Joining a professional association can provide networking opportunities, resources for research and study, and information on job openings. Here are some top associations for Anthropology majors:

Industry Publications

Staying informed about the latest research, findings, and discussions in anthropology is crucial. These publications are excellent sources of information:

  • American Anthropologist – A flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association.
  • Current Anthropology – Offers articles from anthropologists worldwide.
  • Anthropology Today – Provides accessible insights into current anthropological research and debates.
  • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute – Includes a wide range of articles and book reviews covering all branches of anthropology.

Other Resources

In addition to professional associations and publications, here are other resources that can enhance your understanding and opportunities in the field:

  • – An online community for discussing anthropological research, news, and theories.
  • Career.Guide – While not exclusive to anthropology, Career.Guide offers valuable advice on career planning, resume building, and job searching strategies that are relevant across fields.
  • Archaeological Institute of America – Focuses on archaeology and includes information on fieldwork opportunities.
  • The Wenner-Gren Foundation – Provides grants for anthropological research and hosts symposia.

Whether you're looking for networking opportunities, the latest research, or career advice, these resources can provide valuable support as you explore the rich field of anthropology. Remember, staying connected with the broader anthropological community can enhance your educational experience and open up new career pathways.

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