Why Study Anthropology?

Why study anthropology?

Why major in anthropology as part of your liberal arts curriculum?

The purpose of a liberal arts education is to teach students how to

  1. think critically
  2. manage unfamiliar information and experiences
  3. solve problems
  4. learn how to learn new skills quickly and effectively
  5. express their idea verbally
  6. write clearly and effectively in multiple genres

Anthropology majors have a wide variety of career options available to them. Becoming an anthropologist is only one option, and not every major chooses it. Many students study anthropology because it fascinates them, and provides them with a strong liberal arts degree. They can then take the knowledge and skills acquired through the degree, and transfer them to numerous careers.

With roots in the physical sciences, social sciences, and humanities, anthropology is a quintessential liberal arts discipline.

Anthropology is uniquely the holistic science of humanity. It is the study of people - their origins, adaptations and ecology, distribution, customs, languages, and social and religious beliefs. Anthropological studies range from human genetics to personality and society, the prehistoric past to the present, preliterate tribes to modern industrial urbanites, the customs of ancient civilizations to the beliefs of folk peoples today. Anthropologists explore human evolution, reconstruct societies and civilizations of the past, and analyze the cultures and languages of modern peoples. Anthropology is the study of all aspects of humanity at all times.

In the anthropology major, students learn about human difference in all its biological, historical, cultural and linguistic complications. Students will learn to suspend judgment, seek evidence, understand change, compare and contrast information, and learn how to make connections and think outside the box.

Along the way, students acquire research experience, strengthen their writing skills, learn to think about the differences between quantitative and qualitative ways of organizing information, solve problems, and work both independently, and in collaboration with faculty and fellow students.

These are skills that can be carried into many careers. And they are skills that can help you live a stimulating and satisfying life.

The curriculum in anthropology introduces students to the major areas including biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, socio-cultural anthropology, and applied anthropology, along with course work in other related areas. Due to the flexible requirements, anthropology lends itself to a double major or a major with teaching certification. Additionally, students in other majors can choose to minor in anthropology.


A desire to study the biological and cultural aspects of human development and behavior, with an appreciation of existing cultural differences, grounds the discipline of anthropology. Through the comparative study of humanity's long and complex development from its origins to the present, a dedication to becoming aware of our place in nature - who we are, where we come from, and how we understand the diversities as well as the similarities in being humans, anthropology seeks to understand all dimensions of the human experience.


Human Relations

  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Leading/participating with groups
  • Perception of different ways of life
  • Understanding individuals' reactions within society over time
  • Assessing people's needs
  • Interviewing and uncovering important data
  • Surveying and sampling
  • Knowledge of ethnic origins & history


  • Laboratory skills
  • Dating artifacts
  • Researching origins and uses of artifacts
  • Examining development over time
  • Providing information about human biological and cultural development
  • Investigating and revealing the nature of the past
  • Assessing present genetic diversity through evolutionary history
  • Expanding knowledge of primate behavior, biology and diversity


  • Observing people/data/things
  • Organizing ideas/materials/objects/people
  • Analyzing relationships between factors
  • Evaluating
  • Sampling


  • Gathering information
  • Conducting field studies
  • Sampling and surveying
  • Data collection and comparison
  • Analyzing and comparing cultures
  • Examining archeological remains, settlements, tools, pottery, artifacts

Project Development

  • Planning and designing projects
  • Maintaining records and tabulating data
  • Summarizing and presenting results through written and spoken media
  • Developing/generating research ideas

Sources of Additional Information

Department of Anthropology

120 Upham, 529-8399

  • Curriculum Requirements
  • Career Opportunities

Student Counseling Service

195 Health Services Building, 529-4634

  • Career Counseling
  • Career Exploration and Testing Center
  • Computerized Career Development Program
  • Dictionary or Occupational Titles
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook

Arts and Science Academic Advising

146 Upham, 529-3031

  • Miami Plan & College of Arts and Science Requirements
  • Course Selection
  • Career Decision Making

Center for Career Exploration & Success

45 Armstrong Center, 529-3831

  • Career Resources Center
  • Dictionary or Occupational Titles
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook