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 culturepast 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 Global Human Diversity. The department also offers an Interdepartmental Major in Anthropology and Linguistics


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 remainsor 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 relativesliving 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 shapeand are shaped bysocial 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 have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

You can get involved in research as early as your first year. Many incoming first-year students apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 

Advanced Anthropology 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.


The Anthropology Honors Program offers 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. This course 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

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:

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


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 first year.

Internships are available through the IU Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, a newly created museum bringing together the rich collections of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

Students are able to intern in the William R. Adams 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 80 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 our increasingly interconnected world. Anthropology students often pursue language study, fieldwork, and other coursework through the following programs: 

The College of Arts and Sciences directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversations with Anthropology faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study

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 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 in Anthropology 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 five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

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

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

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 college.

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.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Anthropology majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Social and Historical Studies provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

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.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? 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

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these: 

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 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 Anthropology major is excellent preparation for graduate study in anthropology or archaeology. 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, and cultural resource management firms, foreign affairs,  and media consultancy.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

The College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences alumni, 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