Interdepartmental Major in Anthropology and Linguistics

The interdepartmental major in Anthropology and Linguistics leads you to develop your ability to reason critically about issues in the social sciences and the humanities, using a focus on language, culture, and the relationship between these domains as the core material. The major consists of a set of core courses that provide a basic foundation in socio-cultural anthropology, linguistic analysis, and the connection between language and culture.

In concert with this core, each student selects either an African or an American focus, with an in-depth study of the languages and cultures of one of the two regions. The major also incorporates coursework that provides a historical perspective on language. A fieldwork course is included to help you develop an investigative perspective.

Students in the major develop an integrated view of the cultural and linguistic communities of indigenous people in a particular world region, choosing either Africa or America. Faculty in the departments of Anthropology and Linguistics excel in teaching, research, and the linguistic study of African languages.

Students pursuing the major may acquire a general background in Anthropology or develop particular interests in one of the subfields: Archaeology, Bioanthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Social-Cultural Anthropology.

A variety of minors and certificates are available in Anthropology and Linguistics for students majoring in other subjects.


Getting started

Since students look forward to gaining skills in both Anthropology and Linguistics through this interdepartmental major, the major core includes two courses from each discipline:

  • ANTH-L 200 Language and Culture
  • ANTH-E 200 Social and Cultural Anthropology 
  • LING-L 203 Introduction to Linguistic Analysis
  • LING-L 315 Introduction to Sociolinguistics

These courses will provide you with an excellent introduction to the intersection of community, culture, and communication. While the 200-level courses are offered both fall and spring semesters, LING-L 315 Introduction to Sociolinguistics is only offered in the fall semester of each academic year.

If you plan to acquire advanced proficiency in a language new to you, start with a 100-level introductory course in the fall semester.

Tracks and concentrations

The major requires at least 41 credit hours in Anthropology and Linguistics combined, with at least 15 credit hours in each department. One course in each of the following areas also is required, with available selections from both Anthropology and Linguistics:

  • Language Change
  • Fieldwork
  • Language Structure

You can meet the Language Structure requirement with the study of a Native American language, such as Yucatec Maya or Quechua. Or you can choose to study an African language, such as Akan, Bamana, Kinyarwanda, Swahili, Yoruba, or Zulu.

In Anthropology, you may explore a variety of interests or develop particular interest in one of the subfields: Archaeology, Bioanthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Social-Cultural Anthropology.

Talk with the Anthropology academic advisor and the Linguistics academic advisor to better understand your coursework options for the major.

Upper level coursework

At least 18 credit hours must be completed at the 300-level or above, with at least two upper-level elective courses in each department.

In Anthropology, you choose among the following upper-level course offerings:

  • ANTH-E 300 Culture Areas and Ethnic Groups
  • ANTH-E 320 Indians of North America
  • ANTH-E 321 Peoples of Mexico
  • ANTH-L 320 American Indian Languages
  • ANTH-L 340 Language and Globalization
  • ANTH-L 400 Topical Seminar in the Ethnography of Communication
  • ANTH-L 410 Language and Society in Central Eurasia

Linguistics upper-level course choices include:

  • LING-L 306 Phonetics
  • LING-L 307 Phonology
  • LING-L 308 Morphology
  • LING-L 310 Syntax
  • LING-L 367 Languages of the World
  • LING-L 480 Introduction to African Languages
  • LING-L 481 Language in Africa

The Anthropology academic advisor and the Linguistics academic advisor can help you explore your coursework options for the major.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

With careful course planning, the interdepartmental major in Anthropology and Linguistics can be combined with many other majors and minors.

Anthropology and Linguistics students choose to complete minors in areas such as Biology, Criminal Jusitce, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, International Studies, Latino Studies, Music StudiesPolitical Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, or a foreign language.

You might consider an additional major in the following areas: Computer Science, Criminal Jusitce, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, Folklore and EthnomusicologyInternational Studies, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Spanish and PortugueseSlavic and East European Languages and Cultures, Speech and Hearing Sciences.

Potentially relevant certificates are offered by The Media School, the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, and the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The Liberal Arts and Management Program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the Kelley School of Business, may also be of interest.

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

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing the interdepartmental major in Anthropology and Linguistics, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who are active researchers with a depth and breadth of knowledge in their field. Consider taking 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.

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 students in the major are eligible to propose fieldwork or individual readings with faculty for upper-level credit. Talk with your academic advisor for more information about this option.


The Anthropology Honors Program and the Linguistics Honors Program offer tutorial guidance to superior students who want to pursue in-depth research interests. Students interested in Anthropology departmental honors may enter the program in the second semester of their sophomore year or at any time during their junior year. Students interested in Linguistics departmental honors may apply for the program in their junior or senior year.

Anthropology honors students enroll in ANTH-A 399 Honors Tutorial in Anthropology, then conduct original research to prepare a thesis. A399 may be repeated once.

Linguistics honors students complete LING-L 399 Readings in Linguistics-Honors and LING-L 499 Honors Project. In either department, students work under the guidance of a faculty advisor. 

Eligible and interested students should consult with either the Anthropology Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Linguistics Director of Undergraduate Studies.

High-achieving students may 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:


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.

There are internship possibilities in Anthropology and Linguistics through the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. The museum offers research and training opportunities for IU students, educational support and services for IU faculty and elementary and secondary school teachers, and family-friendly exhibits and programs.

Students are also able to work as assistants in the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, a university-centered research laboratory, museum, library, and meeting place for the discovery, preservation, exhibition, and celebration of Indiana's rich cultural and archaeological heritage.

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology is a repository for archaeological artifacts, data, and documentation for sites in the midwest, including those associated with the Angel Mounds State Historic Site, which is Indiana's largest archaeological site.  

One of your best opportunities to gain experience while honing your knowledge and skills in linguistics is with Linguist List, located at IUB. Linguist List is the premier online web resource for the international linguistics community. During summer sessions, there are other opportunities to work with Linguistics faculty members.

You might also seek overseas study programs with internships. Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you will 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.

The African Languages Program offers regularly scheduled courses in Akan/Twi, Bamana, Kiswahili, Wolof, Yoruba, and Zulu during the academic year. The study of an American Indian Language, such as Yucatec Maya or Quechua, can fulfill your Language Structure requirement in the major.

Here 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 interconnected world.

Anthropology students often attend field schools overseen by faculty members. The Office of Overseas Study provides you with this and other opportunities to study abroad, design an individualized overseas research program, and obtain credits that apply towards your major.

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

Student groups

The Undergraduate Linguistics Club, UnderLings, gives students a chance to plan and lead events, connecting with professional linguists at IUB and other colleges and universities.

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

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

Anthropology faculty members and graduate students often ask undergraduate volunteers to assist them with projects during the semester. These volunteers might do such things as transcribe interviews and documents, work on laboratory analysis tasks (measuring, recording, data entry, illustrating, or computer modeling), conduct research, or re-house and curate museum or anthropology collections.

Linguistics faculty also engage student volunteers in phonetics and phonology research.

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 advisors for current volunteering opportunities.

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to participate in 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:

There are many professional organizations for language lovers, including:

For more information about professional involvement in linguistics, consult the faculty of the Department of Linguistics.

Build your skills

Through the major

The interdepartmental major in Anthropology and Linguistics 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 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

All of these skills are ones you will achieve with an interdepartmental major in Anthropology and Linguistics. 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 career exploration starting point 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, cover letter, reference list and prepare for job interviews, too.

Join one or more of the new Walter Center Career Communities to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. Consult with community facilitators, connect with employers, and learn with fellow students about educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Anthropology and Linguistics 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

The interdepartmental major in Anthropology and Linguistics opens doors to various career paths in business, research, teaching, advocacy, and public service. It gives students the global information and thinking skills critical to success in the 21st century. As trends towards global interconnections increase, so should jobs requiring the skills obtained with a degree in Anthropology and Linguistics.

Because IU offers undergraduate training in all four sub-fields of Anthropology, employment is possible in each field. Entry-level professional positions are available in government, private archaeology firms, physical anthropology labs, and museums. Graduates work in environmental studies, public health, law enforcement, forensics, field studies, animal behavior, and intercultural training.

In addition, Linguistics majors are noted for their attention to detail and strong analytical skills. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in education at all levels, non-governmental organizations, tourism and recreation, journalism, community outreach, and translation/literacy organizations.

Career possibilities include researcher, educator, evaluator, administrator, health-related occupations, language and research lab technician, journalist, high-tech expert, international business, market research, national and international development work, social service sector jobs, business management, and marketing. Many positions involve working abroad, including in non-Western countries.

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

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 administrator in an international development organization, speech pathologist, medical anthropologist in a clinical setting, or market research director.

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

Talk with faculty in Anthropology and Linguistics, your academic advisor, and your career coach to gain insights into career paths taken by graduates in Anthropology and Linguistics.

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 graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

Students considering graduate school should plan ahead during their undergraduate experience. 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 graduate program in Anthropology is to develop professionals for service in universities, colleges, museums, and applied fields. 

Students who pursue graduate studies in Anthropology and Linguistics 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.

You might consider Indiana University graduate opportunities such as these:

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 interdepartmental major in Anthropology and Linguistics attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following attributes:

  • 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
  • Ability to develop practical skills and apply them to academic projects
  • Desire to gain speaking and writing proficiency in more than one language
  • Concern for language variation, history and preservation
  • Enthusiasm for wordplay and its use in analyzing language

Learn more

Contact the Anthropology academic advisor or the Linguistics academic advisor to explore your interest in this interdepartmental degree. Complete information about the requirements can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address