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Anthropology is the study of historical and contemporary cultural and linguistic diversity throughout the world. It is a broad field that is divided into four areas:
- Socio-cultural anthropology: the study of contemporary societies
- Archaeology: the study of the material remains of past societies
- Linguistics: the study of the structure and principles of language
- Biological anthropology: the study of human evolution and human biological diversity
Our faculty include specialists in the first three of these areas. We have three archeologists on the Anthropology faculty who specialize in the archaeology of South America, the Middle East, and Africa. Four faculty are linguists, with particular expertise in Native American, Middle Eastern, and Melanesian languages. The majority of the faculty are socio-cultural anthropologists,
whose teaching and research interests span the globe and engage numerous theoretical and topical interests. Particular geographical concentrations include the cultures of East Asia, Indonesia, Melanesia, the Caribbean, Native Central and South America, Europe, and North America. We have affiliated Anthropology and related faculty in other departments and programs whose coursework contributes to the Anthropology major.
There are currently over 100 students majoring or minoring in anthropology. While this number represents a diverse group of students with a wide range of interests, it is small enough to maintain a high degree of faculty-student interaction. Many students have worked with faculty conducting ethnographic and linguistic research as well as archaeological field and laboratory work.
Beyond the Major...
Anthropology majors develop expertise in historical and contemporary cultural and linguistic diversity as well as skills in reading, research, and writing that give them excellent preparation for many professional careers. Some students go on to graduate school to become professional anthropologists, archaeologists, and linguists and pursue careers in teaching, research, museum work, or applied anthropology and archaeology. Many go on to careers in law, medicine, social services, and other professions, where they find their work greatly aided and enhanced by their background in anthropology. In addition, many businesses are interested in hiring anthropologists, archaeologists, and linguists today, since our current era of globalization demands an appreciation of different cultural and linguistic perspectives. And, finally, we have a wonderful program that allows enterprising undergraduate majors to complete both the BA and an MA in anthropology with just one additional year. See the links below for more information on these topics.
Join our Virginia Anthropology Society!
The Virginia Anthropology Society is a society of undergraduate anthropology majors who wish to deepen their exposure to alternate worldviews. It is comprised of students involved in the wide-ranging discipline, including archaeology, linguistics, and socio-cultural anthropology. Our fundamental goal is for members to interact with fellow anthropology enthusiasts and engage with topics of anthropology beyond the classroom. To do so, we facilitate conversations between undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty via social events, speaker series, panel discussions, and advertisement of our peers' work.
For more information about people to contact or activities planned for this semester, see our Virginia Anthropology Society Page.
Have You Thought about Study Abroad?
The University of Virginia encourages undergraduate students to consider spending some portion of their time in college studying abroad, and we make an enormous number of varied programs available to students. Study Abroad is a wonderful opportunity to learn a different language, of course, but it's also so much more than that. Anthropology in particular encourages its majors and minors to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities to travel and gain experience living in a different environment, and a great number of our students do so at some point during their time at UVA.
For more information, see the International Studies Office Page.
The BA/MA Program in Anthropology
This program is designed for UVA undergraduates who wish to pursue a master's degree in anthropology to deepen their understanding of the many possible ways to live in the world. This program aims to allow students to complete the MA program in as little as one additional academic year, meaning that students can graduate with both a BA and an MA in a total of just five years. But this takes planning! Students typically apply in the spring of their 3rd year of studies (though 4th-Year students are still eligible). We urge those who might be interested in this program to plan ahead, starting by discussing the possibility with your major advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Programs.
What Can You Do with an Anthropology Degree?
According to the US Department of Labor, there are just not enough anthropologists! The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that "Employment of anthropologists and archeologists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occuptions." For the full report, see the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook report on Anthropologists and Archeologists.
So what kinds of jobs to anthropology majors pursue after they graduate? See our Careers Pages for details!
For additional information contact our Director of Undergraduate Programs.