Frequently Asked Questions about Anthropology

So what exactly is Anthropology?

Simply put, Anthropology is the study of human culture across time. There are four main fields of Anthropology. Cultural (Social) Anthropology concerns itself with the societal ramifications of culture (e.g. Kinship and marriage systems, religious practices). Physical (Biological) Anthropology looks at human evolution through a cultural lens (e.g. Primatology, human evolution and skeletal development over time). Linguistic Anthropology studies the various aspects of language as they relate to a culture (e.g. Language acquisition, systems of speech). Archaeology uses artifacts of both recent and ancient civilizations to reconstruct lost or damaged cultures (e.g. Excavations of temples, stone tool technology studies). Many Anthropologists also consider Applied Anthropology to be a fifth field in itself. Applied Anthropology apples a cultural framework to several issues and social problems (e.g. Global health and medicine, economics and development, education).


What can I do with a degree in Anthropology?

Whatever you want! Seriously. The study of Anthropology bestows upon the student the ability to not only think critically, a staple of Liberal Arts majors, but to also think globally. In today's society, there is a growing emphasis on global interdependence and as a result, the traits and abilities of Anthropology students are in high demand in a multitude of fields, from politics to economics to marketing. However, if you would prefer to stay within the discipline, there is a need for an advanced degree such as a Master's or Doctorate. Graduate school is a very common option for Anthropology majors, though it is not the only option. Opportunities with the Peace Corps, non-governmental organizations such as the World Bank, and many more are available and most are intricately linked with Anthropology.

What minors or concentrations compliment a degree in Anthropology?

Anthropology is such a diverse field that there are few academic focuses that would not compliment or benefit the aspiring Anthropologist. Anthropologists with a civil engineering background would find work in urban planning in developing nations; A biologist would be a great compliment to a student of evolution and Physical Anthropology; Nursing students could find a second home in classes regarding global medicine and global health studies. In Anthropology, the possibilities are endless!

What does the University of Iowa have to offer in its Anthropology program?

The University of Iowa, like several other universities, mandates that each Anthropology student take introductory classes in the four principal fields of Anthropology, as well as an Issues course that often overlaps with Applied Anthropology. This approach broadens the world view of the student and gives them a chance to test the waters in each of the four (or five) fields before they choose a field as their focus. In addition, our Anthropology faculty boasts professors of a wide variety of focuses and specialties, from Mayan ethnohistory to African health and medicine.