Anthropology Home

Undergraduate Program

Why Anthropology?

Anthropology helps us understand a complex world

An inescapable feature of the contemporary world is the globalization of its economies and cultures through migration, media, and trade. Anthropologists are in the forefront of studying the effects of this encounter of cultures and technologies drawn from all parts of the world. The U.S. itself is an amalgam of people and cultures from every continent. It is also tightly integrated into the global economy. Its future prosperity rests on the ability of its people to understand diversity both within and beyond its borders.

Anthropology helps us become better world citizens

Courses in anthropology provide students with the unique opportunity both to learn about the diversity of human values and endeavors, and to see how their own values and endeavors might look through the eyes of others. Anthropology has a long tradition of attaching equal value to all forms of human culture and society. Students find that anthropology helps them become less ethnocentric, challenges their cultural assumptions, opens their minds, and provides social ease in new and different situations.

What do people do with an anthropology degree?

Almost anything. Anthropology does not set you on a defined career path, but it can lead in many directions. It is commonly said that every individual entering the job market today can expect to pursue seven different careers during their life. Anthropology's focus on treating everyday life as the subject of continuing empirical research is an ideal preparation for an unpredictable future.

Observation, interviewing, transcribing, documentation, critical analysis, attention to detail, and writing skills are all important skills developed by anthropology students as they conduct independent research, work as interns or research assistants, receive grants and fellowships, study abroad, and complete ethnographic projects.

Anthropology majors are able to demonstrate to future employers or graduate programs an ability to conceive, design, and carry out research projects, both individually and in teams; to collect new data through the use of surveys, interviews, and participant observation; to read, analyze, and summarize existing empirical data in written form and to make coherent oral presentations; to interpret cultural and societal symbols, narratives, and trends; and to provide a cross-cultural perspective on the hidden assumptions that exist within particular national or organizational cultures, opening the way to finding innovative solutions.

Anthropology majors can continue their studies through the pursuit of advanced degrees, and conduct research, write ethnographies, and become professors. They can also seek employment in the private or public sectors, as anthropologists are now routinely included contexts such as international development projects, health care, education, marketing, human rights advocacy, and NGO and relief agencies.

Many of our graduates go to graduate school in fields like medicine, law, or public health. Some go into the Peace Corps; others go into business. A small number go on to become professional anthropologists, but majoring in anthropology doesn’t mean that you are going to be an anthropologist. That is because anthropology graduates can apply the fundamental skills they’ve learned to any number of other professions, from museum curator to information technology analyst, medical doctor to marketing director, environmental consultant to art therapist, archaeologist to social service consultant, to name just a few of the professions our alumni have pursued.

How I Discovered My Passion for Anthropology
by Jamie Rudd (Class of 2017)