“I kept learning things I didn’t even consider, like the different ways that people order their life, and understand time, and understand space. And from gaining those perspectives I came to really understand anthropology as something that could form and frame the way that I experience the world… and the impact I have on other people.”
–Kendall Castañeda, BU CAS ‘21
Anthropology sits at the intersection of the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. A degree in anthropology not only allows students to understand human experience across time and space but also to rigorously interpret and analyze those understandings. Our students develop valuable skills in research, data collection, analysis, and writing that are applicable to a variety of careers in teaching, business, public service, medicine, and much more.
Learning Outcomes for Anthropology Majors
- Develop an appreciation for the diversity of human cultures and the principles and methods that anthropologists employ for studying them.
- Master the fundamental cultural themes in at least one society other than their own and the relationship of those themes to the dynamics of social organization.
- Recognize and be able to describe human linguistic diversity, as well as the shared properties of all languages that are associated with the unique capacities of our species.
- Understand the biological principles and historical contingencies that explain and govern the deep history of humanity as revealed by the findings of paleontology and archaeology.
- Grasp the fundamental laws and processes of heredity and evolution and their implications for individuals and populations.
- Students in the social and cultural anthropology track will additionally be able to articulate and act on a more focused understanding of one or more topical areas, which may include the cross-cultural study of law, politics, economic systems, psychology, or medical systems. They will demonstrate an ability to relate theory to empirically grounded research that will help to equip them for an era of globalization in which they will need to understand and interact with societies and cultures beyond their own.
- Students in the biological anthropology track will additionally be expected to demonstrate a basic theoretical and practical understanding of some aspect of the evolutionary biology, functioning, and pathologies of the human body and of the biological factors that underlie, impact, and constrain nutrition, reproduction, and behavior in humans and other primates.
Anthropology as a Career
Anthropological study provides training particularly well suited to the 21st century. Our economy will become increasingly international; workforces and markets, increasingly diverse; participatory management and decision making, increasingly important; communication skills, increasingly in demand. Anthropology is the only contemporary discipline that approaches human questions from historical, biological, linguistic, and cultural perspectives. U.S. News Today ranks “Anthropologist” as one of its Best Science Jobs, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 10% employment growth for anthropologists within the next decade. Learn more about the different career opportunities available to anthropology majors below.
Anthropologists are found not only in anthropology departments, they also teach and conduct research in medicine, epidemiology, public health, ethnic studies, cultural studies, community or area studies, linguistics, education, ecology, cognitive psychology, and neural science. Jeanelle Uy (CAS 2013) pursued her interest in biological anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Long Beach. Rachel Hall-Clifford (GRS 2009) is now an Assistant Professor of Human Health and Sociology at Emory University in Atlanta.
Nonprofit Organizations and Government
Non-governmental organizations, such as international health organizations and development banks, employ anthropologists to help design and implement a wide variety of programs, worldwide and nationwide. State and local governmental organizations also use anthropologists in planning, research, and managerial capacities. John Degory (CAS 2003) is now in foreign service in Shanghai, and you can learn about his interesting political career in this interview. Elizabeth Thomas Crocker (GRS 2017) works in Washington D.C. at the American Association for the Advancement of Science where she develops science engagement materials and train scientists to consider how culture, religion, and worldviews intersect with their research. Ekaterina Anderson (GRS 2018) currently applies her anthropological knowledge and qualitative research skills as a Health Services Researcher at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR) in Boston.
A corporate anthropologist working in market research might conduct targeted focus groups to examine consumer preference patterns not readily apparent through statistical or survey methods. Archaeologists are often employed in cultural resource management (CRM) or contract archaeology, which has expanded because of state and federal legislative mandates to assess cultural resources affected by government-funded construction projects. Beth Pratt (GRS 2003) uses the insight from her doctoral research on childhood and socioeconomic change in Northern Tanzania as a consultant and partner at Global Health Insights, a research and consulting group in the greater New York area.
To learn more about our undergraduate and graduate alumni and their career paths, click here. For more information on further career opportunities for anthropologists, visit the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) career center.