What is an Anthropology Major?
Anthropology is concerned with a wide range of issues from discovering the earliest origins of human culture to understanding present day civilization, or developing an awareness of the most remote peoples on earth to exploring our own society, and/or documenting the evolution of monkeys and apes to tracing the development of Homo sapiens. Increasingly, anthropologists are securing positions with government agencies and private research firms related areas such as city management and urban planning, environmental assessment, and/or science writing and publishing, to name a few.
At UCSB, the Department of Anthropology offers the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Anthropology with emphases in biological anthropology and cultural anthropology (including archeology). Approximately 300 students are majoring in Anthropology at UCSB. An additional 6,400 undergraduates enroll in Anthropology classes each year. Cultural Anthropology includes the study of both ethnology and archaeology. Biological Anthropology includes human evolution and biological adaptation to the environment.
Major, General, and Career Information
What Can You Do With an Anthropology Degree?
Anthropology outfits students with skills that can serve almost any profession that calls for working with people from a variety of backgrounds and in a number of different settings.
A BA degree in anthropology provides the student with basic skills of critical analysis, writing, and cross-cultural understanding, all of which have many applications in public service or political activism, and in the private sector. An anthropology degree with appropriate courses in education also can prepare one for high school teaching in social or natural sciences. An emphasis in sociocultural anthropology could prepare one for work in development, community organizing, policy analysis, and social research. An emphasis in biological anthropology could prepare one for a career involving anatomy, biological sciences, human biology, zoology, primatology, medical sciences (e.g., nutrition, physiology, genetics), or physical education/athletics. An emphasis in archaeology could prepare one for jobs in museum collections management, federal and state parks and forestry management, cultural resource management (contract archaeology), and historic/heritage preservation. However, most practicing anthropologists hold jobs in colleges or universities, where they teach and conduct research. Such jobs require Ph.D. level graduate training.
There are many and varied professional opportunities for students graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology, some of which may require additional education and training. The B.A. degree in anthropology provides you with basic skills of critical analysis, writing, cross-cultural understanding, statistics, and laboratory science – all of which have many applications in public service and the private sector. Students in the social sciences have a number of opportunities to do field work through formal field schools and through internships in state and federal agencies, in private businesses and other institutions where they can put into practice what they are learning in their classes. These internships often help students better understand their career interests and it is not unusual for internships to lead to employment opportunities after graduation.
Graduate and professional study options include, besides the field of Anthropology itself, other areas such as: Business, Law, Journalism, Medicine, Social Work, Urban Planning, Museum Studies, Forensic Science, Anatomy, Biological and Medical Sciences, Genetics, Zoology, Primate Studies, Paleontology, and Geology. There are also many fields in which a BA in Anthropology can be a key preparation. These include: teaching at primary or secondary levels, community development and organizing, union organizing, development (such as US AID, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps), policy analysis, personnel and human resources, marketing and sales, intercultural communications professionals in hospitals and other public service agencies.
UC Berkeley’s Career Office conducts post-graduation surveys of majors and has found that Anthropology students are almost as likely to be employed in education or nonprofit activities as in other forms of employment. While 58% of those employed were in the “for profit” sector, 26% were working for non-profits, and 16% reported being employed in education. The average salary reported for these new graduates was $34,557.
You can find more discussion and resources on the web site of the National Association of Student Anthropologists.
Preparing to Reach Your Career Goals
Consider the following types of opportunities available in the Anthropology Department and elsewhere on and off campus:
•Classes in *methods* -- such as statistics, ethnographic field methods, archaeological field methods and lab courses, discourse analysis, oral history and interviewing (some of the latter can be found in the History department, in the Public History)
•Research Assistantships and Internships with faculty and graduate students (this may offer hands-on training in field methods and data analysis, as well as the opportunity to learn about particular cultural communities and world areas, in addition to providing closer mentorship opportunities).
•Developing skill in another language/culture (opportunities for participation in field projects outside of the United States often require some foreign language experience).
•Internships in local museums, cultural centers, community development organizations, cultural resource management firms
•Education Abroad opportunities (in addition to providing broader cultural experiences, studying abroad can also facilitate language training).
•UCDC opportunities, which often include internship opportunities at a variety of DC-based federal and non-governmental agencies, cultural institutions.
•Consider an undergraduate research project, funded through UCSB’s URCA program
Resources and Professional Associations
American Association of Museums
Represents 16,000 members, 11,500 individual museum professional and volunteers, 3,100 institutions and 1,700 corporate members.
American Cultural Resources Association
Lots of links including professional associations. (Membership required)
American Association of Physical Anthropologists
Learn about careers and frequently asked questions in Physical Anthropology