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Anthropology Overview

Anthropology is the study of human behavior and of what it means to be includes an examination of culture and social relations, human biology and evolution, languages, music, art and architecture, and vestiges of human habitation. Anthropology is interdisciplinary in its approach and answers questions that exceed the existing disciplinary boundaries of philosophy, religion, political science, and economics. It is divided into four broad fields: Physical Anthropology, Archaeology, Linguistics, and Socio-Cultural Anthropology. In addition to these main areas, the study and practice of anthropology includes:
  • Medical Anthropology - Seeks to better understand factors that influence peoples' health and well being.
  • Forensic Anthropology - Seeks to identify skeletal, or otherwise decomposed, human remains.
  • Business Anthropology - Helps businesses gain a better understanding of their activities and customers.
  • Visual Anthropology - Documents everyday life through filmmaking.
  • Environmental Anthropology - Believes that the well-being of the environment goes hand in hand with the well-being of people.
  • Museum Anthropology - Interprets ethnographic and archaeological collections to the general public.

Hopkins offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology that focuses exclusively on Socio-Cultural Anthropology. The undergraduate program combines the study of social and cultural theory with the empirical study of everyday life, social organization, cultural and political expression, and forms of imagination across the diversity of human cultures past and present.

Anthropology Career Options

Anthropologists are careful observers of human behavior. They study the physical, social, and cultural development and behavior of humans. They may examine the customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures in various parts of the world. Socio-cultural anthropologists study the customs, cultures, and social lives of groups in settings that range from unindustrialized societies to modern urban centers. An undergraduate degree in Anthropology provides a foundation for a variety of careers, as many do not require a specific major, but a wide range of skills and accomplishments. The social ease in strange situations, critical thinking, and strong skills in oral and written expression that are cultivated by anthropological training are marketable to a variety of professions.

Additionally, an understanding of both the empirical methods used in the social sciences and the critical, analytical, and speculative methods of the humanities allows Anthropology students to succeed in not only their studies but also their careers. Anthropology provides students with the global information and thinking skills critical to succeed in the 21st century in business, research, teaching, advocacy, and public service. Students who are interested in careers in Anthropology should specifically be skilled in applying theories, employing research methodologies, formulating and testing hypotheses, and developing extensive sets of data.

Anthropology majors work in traditional academic settings, such as universities, as well as in applied anthropology settings, such as business, nonprofits, and government. In academic settings, anthropologists teach and conduct research as part of anthropology departments; many find careers in other departments such as medicine, public health, psychology, and neural science. However as competition for faculty positions intensifies, many anthropology majors have chosen to apply knowledge and skills their knowledge outside of academia. Anthropology majors find work as researchers, evaluators, and administrators in government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Anthropology also provides a strong basis for a variety of careers including preparation for advanced studies in social sciences and forensics. It is a foundation for Law and Medical School with international law and public health as two specific concentrations pursued by Anthropologists. Supplementary coursework in addition to hands-on experiences in internships and research opportunities or work within a field school qualify the bachelor’s degree Anthropologists to work as urban planners, translators, legislative compliance reviewers, and cultural resource managers. An advanced degree is required to become a professor or senior policy analyst.

Federal, state, and local government agencies utilize anthropologists in planning, research, and managerial capacities. Government agencies hire anthropology majors as:

Anthropology provides a strong foundation for working in business, government, and the nonprofit sector. Its coursework and research allow students to develop the skills needed to:

  • Assess and adapt workgroup practices, product designs, environments or project strategies in a rapidly changing and risky market.
  • Analyze product usage, consumer mindset, brand appeal, research data and donor motivation.
  • Mediate workplace relationships to increase efficiency.
  • Communicate effectively with diverse audiences such as consumers, donors, clients, shareholders, internal staff and members.
  • Organize and manage large, complex projects with stakeholders representing a wide range of interests.
  • Perform objective, goal-oriented evaluations and risk assessments.
  • Write proposals and obtain grants or funding.

Many Anthropology graduates work in a range of occupations outside of academic and government settings including work in Museums and Archives, Communications, Business, and other industries that make use of analysts and researchers who know how to study people, how communities and organizations work, and who can use this knowledge to solve problems. Positions are as wide-ranging as Conservator, Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker, and Human Resource specialist and Administrative Executive.

Anthropologists, are projected to realize the largest growth within the job market. As the economy becomes increasingly international, workforces and marketplaces more diverse, and participatory management skills in greater demand. The demand for anthropologists in the workforce will remain steady for academic positions and increase in other areas. As an undergraduate with a degree in Anthropology, students can enjoy employment opportunities in a wide-range of jobs in the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industries as long as they supplement their major with relevant coursework, research and internship experiences.

Anthropology Career Prep

Anthropology allows students to develop sharp thinking skills to manage, evaluate, and interpret a large volume of data on human behavior. It also encourages them to display objectivity, an open mind, and perseverance while maintaining an intense curiosity within their careful observation and interpretation of human behavior.

Undergraduate coursework in Anthropology includes a broad range of studies in the humanities and social science that allow students to develop of key skills required employers including:

  • Strong oral, written and multicultural communication skills.
  • Listen with objectivity and paraphrase the content of a message.
  • Use various forms and styles of written communication.
  • Answer questions and explain perspective in a culturally sensitive manner.
  • Interview others to acquire information about them.
  • Ability to analyze complicated issues.
  • Careful record keeping.
  • Critical and clear thinking.
  • Adopt a broad perspective for framing an understanding.
  • Supplement statistical findings with descriptive data.
  • Applying a range of social, behavioral, biological research methods.
  • Gather data using qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Analyze the interrelationships of events and ideas from several perspectives.
  • Create innovative solutions for complex problems.
  • Identify a general principle that explains interrelated experiences or factual data.
  • Adapt one’s concepts and behavior to changing conventions and norms.
  • Apply appropriate criteria to strategies and action plans.
  • Formulate questions relevant to clarifying a particular problem, topic or issue
  • Assess a course of action in terms of its long-range effects on the general human welfare.
  • Apply information creatively to specific problems or tasks.
  • Synthesize facts, concepts and principles.
  • Evaluate information based on appropriate standards.

Employers hire anthropology majors because their coursework and research prepares them to:

  • Communicate in a globalized world.
  • Avoiding preconceptions and recognizing varied perspectives.
  • Seeing the “big picture”.
  • Gathering, integrating, synthesizing and analyzing data.
  • Working within and for structured budgets.

These skills and abilities combined with coursework in natural and social science research methods, one or more foreign languages, and writing courses provide Anthropology students with a global holistic knowledge that will help them succeed in the future marketplace.

An undergraduate major in Anthropology can be combined with a second major or minor in economics, foreign language, or history to broaden the impact of the degree. Supplementary coursework in technical writing, statistics, and natural sciences will strengthen career possibilities for Anthropology students.

Anthropology graduates should pursue internships, participate in independent research and study abroad opportunities, and become involved in Anthropology-related extra curricular activities while at Hopkins to enhance their skills and abilities. The Anthropology department offers a variety activities for undergraduates to interact with faculty and graduate students including the Anthropology Club, ARGOT(undergraduate research journal), department seminars and workshops, and speakers’ series. Also, students may pursue more specific career preparation strategies depending on the area of specialization in which you they are interested; Anthropology students who are interested in positions in Federal, state, and local government should be familiar with the application process and timelines.

Anthropology Alumni

Hopkins Anthropology alumni go into a variety of career fields. Since 2005 the Career Center has surveyed recent graduates about their academic and career plans 6 months after graduation. Here is a summary of their responses.

Listed below are actual job titles that JHU alumni acquired with their degrees in Anthropology:

  • Archaeologist
  • Arts Administrator
  • Copy Editor
  • Development Officer
  • Director of Publicity, Children’s Publishing
  • Director of Internet Strategy
  • Editor
  • Educational Exhibits Specialist
  • Employment Specialist
  • Healthcare Project Manager
  • Lawyer
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Management Consultant
  • Music Teacher
  • Musician
  • Nonprofit Executive Director
  • Public Policy Program Associate
  • Physician
  • Professor
  • Reporter
  • Researcher
  • Sponsorship Manager, Nonprofit Sports Organization
  • Teacher

Learn more about Hopkins alumni:

Additional Alumni Profiles

    Networking with alumni and other professionals who work in these fields can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Use Johns Hopkins Connect to contact alumni to ask for their advice. You may also find professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family.

    For more information on what you can do with a Anthropology Major go to What can I do with a major in Anthropology.

    Want to know more? Read our Hopkins Career Profiles on Journalism, Publishing, Law & Paralegal, Consulting, Teaching, Public Policy, and Journalism. If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.

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Anthropology Grad School

For information on the top Graduate programs, the best people to talk to are the experts in the field you wish to study such as faculty members and graduate students in that specific discipline. We strongly encourage you to talk with your advisor and/or other faculty members with whom you have a good, working relationship. This will also help when you request letters of recommendation.

The Career Center is here to help you navigate the graduate school search process. Click here for guidelines and preparing for Graduate School and Professional School.

Anthropology Societies

Anthropology Links