Colleges

What Makes Us Human? Pursuing an Anthropology Major

Anthropology is the study of the human experience and all the things that make us human. It is a broad field that is typically split into four major groups or subfields; Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Archeology. All of these subjects have the same goal of learning about human beings, their lives, and their cultures.

Pursuing a degree in Anthropology can open up several career opportunities, including teaching, working in the field, or applying anthropological principles to solving real-world problems in society. We will take a brief look at the different types of Anthropology, as well as the types of classes you can expect to take in the course of getting a degree in the subject.

The four subfields of Anthropology

When obtaining a degree in Anthropology and choosing your major, you will likely choose from one of these four fields:

  1. Biological Anthropology: A biological anthropologist studies how we adapt to specific environments. This study can encompass current societies or ancient societies. Current societies are studied by observing people in cultures and their biological differences. Previous societies are studied using fossil and historical information. One focus of this study is to understand disease and early death patterns that would shoe a biological difference from other groups. Another focus is evolutionary, determining how humanity evolved over time from other animals. They look at culture and biological patterns and how they shape our societies, lives, and decisions.
  2. Cultural Anthropology: cultural anthropologists seek to understand the human condition by examining societies around the world. Cultures develop different norms and customs, languages, dress, religions and traditions. Understanding the diverse nature of the cultures around the world can help us deepen our understanding of humanity in general.
  3. Linguistic Anthropology: As the name implies, linguistic anthropologists study language and communication. Language, and the way it is used can give great insight into how different cultures relate to each other and the world around them.
  4. Archeology: An archeologist studies ancient civilization by examining the objects they have made. Artifacts such as buildings, pottery, money, and textiles. By analyzing these objects, archeologists can gain a lot of insight into how these ancient civilizations lived.

Getting your degree

The level of education you get depends on the position you would like. Most positions require at least a bachelor-level degree, while other more advanced positions – particularly teaching leadership positions – require a graduate-level degree.

Many of the classes you take as part of your bachelor’s degree will depend on your particular anthropological focus. You will take some general classes on anthropology and then more focused classes depending upon which sub-fields you have chosen. In addition, a bachelor’s degree will require you to take certain general education classes that are required in most bachelor’s degree programs.

If you choose to pursue a degree beyond your undergraduate, you’ll need to apply for a graduate program within your chosen discipline.

Choosing a school

Beyond the normal considerations when choosing a college to go to, such as location, reputation, cost, culture and atmosphere, anthropology majors will require some additional research. Many Anthropology programs require some field work or lab work. You’ll want to investigate the school’s resources, particularly if you will be required to have some field work.

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