Given the rapidly changing nature of culture in the modern world, understanding the present and the past is increasingly important. Anthropologists explore most aspects of culture and society and can apply their skills to many industries. Anthropology majors can find work in diverse fields, but their knowledge of human culture and analytical methods makes them ideally suited for jobs in cultural preservation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for archivists, curators, and museum workers to increase by 13% between 2016 and 2026. This guide discusses how to earn an anthropology bachelor's degree, prospective jobs and incomes for anthropology majors, and resources for students.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Anthropology?
Students pursue anthropology degrees for many reasons, but most have an interest in history, culture, and society. Depending on your personal and professional obligations, you can pursue an online or on-campus program. Campus programs often appeal to students who have recently graduated high school, while online degrees typically appeal to working students looking to make a career change or advance in their current job.
Along with specialized, field-specific knowledge, anthropology programs help students build skills in research, analysis, communication, critical thinking, and writing, all of which are useful in various professional and academic contexts. An anthropology program offers opportunities to network with classmates and faculty, creating professional connections that can serve you after graduation. You can also participate in internships that build hands-on experience and provide further professional connections.
As you near graduation, both your college career center and anthropology program may assist you in finding a job in the field. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement for most anthropology jobs.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Anthropology?
Employers of all types recognize the skills of anthropology graduates. Since the discipline explores the scope of human culture, jobs for anthropology majors are about as varied as human society itself. You'll find many industries that appreciate your knowledge, particularly if you specialize in a unique field. Below is an overview of some of the most common careers for anthropology majors.
Anthropologists and archaeologists trace human development through the study of culture. Most of these positions are in colleges, research organizations, and government agencies. Students with a bachelor's degree typically find entry-level work in the field.
Median Annual Salary: $62,280*
Professional geographers study the arrangement of physical land and its features. They also examine political and social structures, making the job appealing to anthropologists. Many geographers work for the federal government, though they may also find employment in the private sector.
Median Annual Salary: $76,860*
- High School Teacher
Most anthropology majors teach history or social studies, but some teachers may offer specialized classes in anthropology. Most bachelor's in anthropology programs do not include teacher certification, but students can pursue their teaching certificate after graduation.
Median Annual Salary: $59,170*
Often working at museums, historical societies, and colleges, archivists catalog and preserve artifacts and other historical records, either for research or public presentation. Anthropology majors are ideally suited to work with historical societies and museums.
Median Annual Salary: $47,360*
- Market Research Analyst
Typically working for businesses, market research analysts examine market conditions and consumer needs to determine the best way for companies to reach potential customers. Anthropology's focus on understanding cultures and social structures makes graduates well suited to this field.
Median Annual Salary: $63,230*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Anthropology Program
Those pursuing a bachelor's degree in anthropology should make several important considerations before deciding on a program. Factors such as program length and school location can affect the scope and structure of your education, so it's important to research carefully.
A program's logistics is a valuable consideration. If you're a working adult student, you may decide to enroll in a part-time online anthropology program that enables you to study at your own pace while remaining at your current job. Conversely, you may want to earn your degree as quickly as possible, taking an accelerated program with a shorter completion time.
You should also consider the specializations that various programs offer, as they can impact your career prospects after graduation. For example, if you're interested in a career in forensic anthropology, then you should ensure your prospective school offers classes about it. Many programs also offer internship and practicum opportunities that build professional experience, so be sure to determine available options if these experiences factor into your career plans.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Anthropology Programs
When researching anthropology degrees, you should ensure that your prospective program holds accreditation from a reputable accreditation agency. Accreditation indicates that a program meets national quality standards agreed upon by the academic community and ensures that your credits will transfer to other accredited institutions.
Make sure your prospective schools hold regional accreditation from one of the six major regional accreditation agencies, which includes the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Bachelor's in Anthropology Program Admissions
Applying to an undergraduate program involves substantial research and paperwork, but careful planning makes the process fairly straightforward. Counselors often recommend that students straight out of high school apply to between six and nine schools. This should include two to three highly selective schools, two to three competitive schools, and two to three safety schools. If you're a working adult student, you might apply to fewer programs based on their flexibility, specialization options, or other factors.
Colleges typically allow you to complete and submit your application online. However, online programs may include a slightly more involved application process since students rarely visit campus.
- Minimum GPA: Undergraduate programs typically require a minimum GPA between 2.5 and 3.0, though more selective programs may set the bar higher. Some schools may waive GPA requirements if you demonstrate significant achievement or extenuating circumstances.
Minimum GPA: Undergraduate programs typically require a minimum GPA between 2.5 and 3.0, though more selective programs may set the bar higher. Some schools may waive GPA requirements if you demonstrate significant achievement or extenuating circumstances.
- Application: All colleges require you to submit an application with general information, such as your name and birthdate. Many colleges accept The Common App, which enables you to submit an application to several schools at once.
- Transcripts: You must submit transcripts from all schools you attended. Most high schools release transcripts for free, while colleges typically require students to pay a fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: More selective schools request two or three letters of recommendation from teachers or other professionals who know you as a student. Give your recommenders at least a few weeks to write the letters.
- Test Scores: Most schools accept either the SAT or ACT, and score requirements vary depending on the school's selectivity. Older students who have been out of high school for several years typically don't need to submit these scores.
- Application Fee: Most colleges charge an application fee of around $40, with more selective private schools charging up to $100. Students with demonstrable financial need can typically request a fee waiver.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Anthropology Program?
Anthropology examines all of human society, and the field encompasses many concentrations on specific aspects of study. While these varied fields abide by the same anthropological principles and tools, they apply them in different ways.
|Cultural Anthropology||Cultural anthropologists explore diverse cultures, both past and present, examining the ways in which people live, organize societies, and create meaning in their lives. Focusing on both biological and cultural factors, this concentration emphasizes processes of observation and research within an ethical framework.||Historic preservationist, museum curator, professor|
|Forensic Anthropology||Taking an anthropological approach to criminal investigations, forensic anthropologists use their specialized knowledge to examine dead bodies, typically to determine cause and circumstances of death. This concentration focuses heavily on excavation practices and processes of physical examination.||Forensic anthropologist, professor|
|Biological Anthropology||Typically applied to medicine and other allied health fields, biological anthropology takes an evolutionary approach to study, focusing on human genetics rather than culture. The concentration combines a liberal arts foundation with studies in human genetics, paleontology, physiology, and reproductive biology.||Medicine, dentistry, allied health|
|Applied Anthropology||Applied anthropology takes anthropological research and applies it to practical problem solving. Applied anthropologists may use their research for education, public health, environmental issues, human rights, business, and other areas of society.||Policy analyst, community advocate, consultant|
|Archaeology||Archaeologists study human history. Typically focused on tangible artifacts and intangible cultural factors, archaeologists explore human societies throughout time to determine factors that cause change. Many archaeologists take a particular interest in prehistoric cultures.||Archaeologist, heritage manager, museum curator|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Anthropology Program
Different anthropology programs offer different course options, but most schools offer similar core courses based on national education standards. The following five courses represent topics found in most anthropology bachelor's degree programs.
- Introduction to Cultural and Social Anthropology
This course explores the foundations of anthropology, including the history of the discipline and its assumptions and categorizations. Students gain a broad perspective of the field's methods, goals, and development, creating foundational knowledge for advanced study.
- Method and Evidence in Anthropology
This foundational course introduces principles of collecting evidence and forming arguments and theories in the anthropology field. Students gain general perspectives on research practices, such as interviewing, participant observation, archival investigation, linguistic methodology, and demographic methods.
- Foundations in Archaeology
This introductory course covers the basics of archaeology, including survey techniques, dating methods, culture changes, and reconstruction methods. Students explore the practices and techniques that archaeologists use to analyze cultural, social, and economic practices of ancient civilizations.
- Ethics in Anthropology
This course explores ethical perspectives in anthropology. Students examine anthropological decision-making in theoretical and applied contexts, gaining an understanding of the ethical and moral principles that dictate work in the field.
- Urban Culture in Global Perspective
This course offers a cross-cultural examination of urban spaces and their importance in political, economic, and cultural contexts. Students examine the history of cities and how factors such as industrialization, globalization, and decentralization affect their growth.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Anthropology?
Most anthropology bachelor's degree programs take four years to complete and require around 120 credits. However, you often have the option to complete your program faster or slower depending on your availability. Many colleges offer an accelerated format that enables you to complete your degree faster by taking more courses each semester. Conversely, if work and family obligations prevent you from enrolling full time, many schools allow you to enroll part time and take courses as they suit your schedule -- particularly through online programs.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Anthropology?
Tuition costs vary by school and program. However, public colleges and universities typically offer lower tuition rates than private institutions. According to CollegeBoard, for the 2017-2018 school year, the average annual tuition for a bachelor's degree at a public college was $9,970, while tuition at a private college was $34,740. Furthermore, public colleges offer lower tuition rates to state residents; if you enroll in a public college outside of your home state, you'll likely pay tuition closer to private school prices.
Outside of the base tuition rate, other factors, such as campus housing, travel, and technology fees can affect the total cost of your degree. Taking online courses can save you money on housing and commuting, but you may have to pay an additional technology fee for each online course.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Anthropology Prepares For
- Historic Preservation
Training students to identify, document, and preserve artifacts and significant historical sites, a certificate in historical preservation prepares recipients for work with historical societies, museums, and other archival organizations. Most programs cover topics such as cultural resource management, preservation planning principles, and archaeology.
- Museum Studies
Combining studies in museum history, curation, and practical administration, a museum studies certificate prepares students to work at museums, galleries, and other similar environments. Certificate programs explore collections, community relations, fundraising, educational programs, and organizational development. Most certificates also include an experiential component, such as an internship.
- Leadership Studies
Typically pursued in tandem with a graduate program, a certificate in leadership gives students the skills to serve in managerial positions with many organizations, such as museums, historical societies, and government agencies. Certificate candidates study leadership theories, conflict management, interpersonal communication, and other related topics.
- International Cultural Studies
Offering a critical perspective on modern global culture, an international cultural studies certificate typically pairs with a master's program in anthropology. Students explore the global exchange of cultural ideas and capital, along with the increasing role technology plays in shaping culture. This interdisciplinary certificate often attracts aspiring academics and curators.
- Teaching Certification
Some anthropology degrees may include options for teaching certification, though many students obtain certification after completing their bachelor's. Certification programs typically cover pedagogy, subject area knowledge, and classroom management.
Resources for Anthropology Students
The Library of Congress hosts this comprehensive collection of cultural documents and resources, with nearly 20,000 entries about 193 countries. The site also hosts collections from cultural institutions worldwide, such as the National Library of Brazil.
Offering ethnographic resources for anthropologists, folklorists, and ethnomusicologists, the American Folklife Center provides information on scholarships, education programs, grants, scholarly societies, and a wealth of research materials.
Hosted by the University of Illinois, this site offers comprehensive resources on African-American history and culture, including study guides, bibliographies, and links to many other publications.
Yale hosts this extensive scholarly resource for teachers and students, which compiles an assortment of information on cultures across the world. Full access to the database requires a paid subscription or a scholarly affiliation.
This online database compiles links to thousands of resources on African culture and archaeology, including maps, bibliographies, and journals.
Professional Organizations in Anthropology
Anthropologists depend on collaboration and flow of information to stay up to date on developments in the field. Membership in trade organizations offers many benefits, such as conferences, professional development, educational resources, and connections to professionals in the field. Many organizations also host job boards and other career services that connect anthropologists to new opportunities.