Anthropology B.A.

The Department of Anthropology offers a B.A. degree for students interested in exploring what it means to be human, from the origins of humanity to the ongoing changes in contemporary societies. What unites scholars across the discipline is the belief that human behavior can best be understood by studying and comparing both biology and culture — past and present, local and global, mental and material. Anthropology is holistic.

Anthropologists study everything from DNA to dance. Students explore many distinctive topics, including: human biology, health and evolution, food trade and sustainability, social networks and the arts, technology from the stone age to the information age, global cultures and indigenous heritage, social media and endangered languages, and international human rights.

The Anthropology program engages the breadth of the discipline, spanning the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Students pursuing the major may acquire a general background in anthropology or develop particular interests in subfields such as Archaeology, Bioanthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Social-Cultural Anthropology.

All Anthropology majors work with faculty who bring their international fieldwork and research experience to the classroom. The department offers a number of opportunities for students to apply their knowledge through field schools, both in the Americas and abroad, and through research projects or independent internships in campus labs or in IU museums and other affiliated programs.

If you are interested in anthropology but do not wish to pursue the major, a variety of Anthropology minors and certificates are also available, including a minor in Food Studies and a Certificate in the Ethnography of Communication. The department also offers an Interdepartmental Major in Anthropology and Linguistics

Coursework

Getting started

Students fulfill their Anthropology coursework from the following subfields:

After your introductory subfield coursework, you complete upper-level courses in three of the four subfield areas. Beyond that, you focus on a particular subfield or continue coursework in more than one subfield.

The Anthropology academic advisor will help you better understand the subfield areas and required coursework for the major.

Tracks and concentrations

Some students majoring in Anthropology choose to take courses across the subfields. Others choose to forge an unofficial concentration in one of the four subfields:

  • Archaeology examines material remains - or the things people "leave behind" - to answer social and cultural questions. This concentration appeals to students who want to understand how people relate to the material world in both the past and the present.  
  • Bioanthropology examines the adaptation, variation, and evolutionary history of humans and their relatives - living and extinct. This concentration appeals to students who enjoy applying biological science and social science to questions about human and animal behavior.
  • Linguistic Anthropology studies how language and communication shape - and are shaped by - social and cultural formations. This concentration appeals to students who want to understand how people create, negotiate and reproduce cultural forms and social relations through language.
  • Social-Cultural Anthropology examines the diversity of human societies across time and space, while looking for similarities among them. This concentration appeals to students who want to understand or address contemporary cultural challenges through a holistic, or comprehensive, approach.

Upper level coursework

Although courses in the Department of Anthropology are spread across the 200-400 levels, the major requires you to take at least six courses at the upper level in three of the four subfield areas.

Additional work at the upper level includes special topics courses, individual readings, an honors tutorial, field study, a teaching practicum, and a capstone course. Contact the academic advisor for more information about the requirements.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

With accurate course planning, the Anthropology B.A. can be combined with many other majors and minors. Many Anthropology students complete a minor in areas such as Animal Behavior, Biology, Business, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Global and International Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, or a foreign language. Check your bulletin for more information about these minors. Double majors or concurrent degrees are also possible.

Potentially relevant certificates include those offered by:

The Anthropology academic advisor can help you better understand how other degrees, majors, and minors can be paired with the Anthropology degree.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Anthropology, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who are active researchers with a depth and breadth of knowledge in the field. Take advantage of office hours to speak with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Students are eligible to propose fieldwork or individual readings with faculty for upper-level credit. Contact the academic advisor for more information about this option.

Enrolling in a field class or field school is the best way to work with faculty over the course of several weeks. This experience frequently leads to further internships, volunteer opportunities, and letters of recommendation for employment or graduate school.

Honors

The Anthropology Honors Program offers tutorial guidance to high achieving students who want to develop in-depth research interests. Students enter the program in the second semester of their sophomore year or at any time during their junior year. While nominated students typically have an outstanding academic record, their strength of interest and commitment are also taken into consideration. Selection is made by the department chairperson or honors advisor, who assigns each accepted honors student to a faculty tutor.

Honors students enroll in ANTH-A 399 Honors Tutorial in Anthropology, where they conduct original research to prepare a thesis. A 399 may be repeated once. A one-hour oral examination concerning the thesis is administered during the senior year by a three-member committee, with one member selected from outside the Anthropology department. Eligible and interested students should consult with the academic advisor.

High achieving students may also be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Resources for pursuing scholarships and awards include:

Find more information concerning financial resources through the College of Arts and Sciences.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Internships are available through the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. The Mathers Museum offers research and training opportunities for IU students; support and services for IU faculty and other educators; and family-friendly exhibits and programs. 

Anthropology students can work as assistants in the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, a university-centered research laboratory and repository for archaeological artifacts, data, and documentation for sites in the Midwest, including those associated with Indiana's largest archaeological site, Angel Mounds State Historic Site

Students are able to intern in the William R. Adam Zooarchaeology Laboratory, a museum repository for 10,000 modern vertebrate skeletons. Interns consider the ways in which animal behavior, biology, and zoology intersect with the study of archaeology and anthropology.

Other internal and external internships are available on a semester by semester basis, depending on the needs of various faculty, community members, and outside institutions. Contact the academic advisor for more information.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Anthropology students often pursue language study, fieldwork, and other coursework through the following programs: 

The office of Overseas Study can provide you with these and other opportunities to study abroad, design an individualized overseas research program, and obtain credits that apply towards your major.

Some students study abroad to earn credit toward an additional language major or minor, or choose courses that fulfill General Education or College of Arts and Sciences requirements.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Anthropology faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Studies.

Student groups

The Undergraduate Anthropology Association is a student group that fosters community between the four Anthropological sub-fields and spreads awareness of the discipline.

Residential Programs and Services at IU offers a variety of learning communities which allow students to select to live among peers with a common interest. Some of the following learning communities may be of interest to Anthropology students:

For a complete list of Living-Learning Centers, Thematic Communities, or Academic Communities visit the Residential Programs and Services at IU website.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

Faculty members and graduate students often ask for undergraduate volunteers to assist them with projects. Volunteers do such things as transcribe interviews and documents, work on laboratory analysis tasks (measuring, recording, data entry, illustrating, computer modeling), conduct library research, and curate museum collections.

Faculty members prefer these opportunities to be as regular and formalized as possible, with fixed weekly hours. These experiences give you additional insight into faculty research and allow you to work closely with faculty mentors. Contact the academic advisor for current volunteering opportunities.

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Anthropology undergraduates are welcome to participate in a variety of national and international professional organizations. IUB undergraduates regularly attend and present papers at annual conferences for these organizations:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, nonprofit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in Anthropology provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Intellectual training that prepares you to meet the challenges of our changing world
  • Critical thinking skills that help you articulate your own position while understanding the perspectives of others
  • Effective writing, research, and communication skills
  • The development of practical skills that support your individual interests

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, identified by the 11 Goals of College and Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Anthropology students should consider taking ASCS-Q 296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. This course provides the opportunity for Anthropology students to explore the relationship between their chosen field of study and life after graduation while developing a career and academic development plan for post-collegiate success.

The job market

Anthropology prepares students for excellent jobs and opens doors to various career paths. It provides global information and thinking skills critical to succeeding in the 21st century in business, research, teaching, advocacy, and public service. As trends towards global interconnections increase, so should the number of jobs requiring skills developed in completion of the B.A. major in Anthropology.

Because IU offers undergraduate training in all four of the Anthropology sub-fields, employment is possible in each field. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: federal and state government, private archaeology firms, physical anthropology labs, and museums. Anthropology graduates work in environmental studies, public health, law enforcement, forensics, field studies, animal behavior, and intercultural training.

Career possibilities include researcher, evaluator, administrator, health-related occupations, international business, market research, national and international development work, social service sector jobs, business management, and marketing. Many positions involve working in or with non-Western societies. 

Graduate study is required if you plan to become a university professor, museum curator, exhibitor or director, forensic anthropologist, project leader for an archaeological dig, upper-level administration in an international development organization, medical anthropologist in a clinical setting, or market research director.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations. 

Talk with anthropology faculty, the academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Teaching positions give you a chance to hone language and communication skills. Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as Center for International Education Exchange, Institute of International Education, and LanguageCorps.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you’ll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

The primary purpose of the IUB graduate program in Anthropology is to develop professionals for service in universities, colleges, museums, and applied fields. With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Anthropology have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, government and private research institutions, conservation groups, museums, research assistants, foreign affairs, cultural resource management firms, and media consultants.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Talk with Anthropology faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

The College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring Alumni. 

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Department of Anthropology attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following interests and desires:

  • Desire to understand the origins of humankind and the diversity of world cultures
  • Interest in the comparative study of different societies and their customs
  • Aspire to contribute to the resolution of persistent world problems and social injustices
  • Affinity for learning new languages
  • Intellectual curiosity and imagination
  • Ability to develop practical skills and apply them to academic projects

Learn more

Contact the Anthropology academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
rbutorac@indiana.edu