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Prospective Students

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humanity—our biology, behavior, cultural complexity, and evolution. Anthropologists study living people across cultures and populations; past people through the fossil, archaeological, and historical records; as well as living and extinct nonhuman primates. Anthropologists document, describe, and seek to understand biological and cultural variation in humans both past and present as a way to understand and explain the human condition.

At Penn State, the field is divided into two majors:

The Bachelor of Arts degree focuses on the biological and cultural variations of human populations through archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology. In addition to class work, students receive practical training in laboratory and field work.

The Bachelor of Science degree includes options in Biological Anthropology, Archaeological Science, Human Ecology, and Integrated Anthropology. Students can study everything from past societies to contemporary cultures to human biological variation.

Why Study Anthropology?

You might like this program if:

  • You are interested in human cultural and biological variation and you want to understand human behavior and biology
  • You find human diversity fascinating and want to explore and understand the human condition
  • You want to study important questions such as "What makes us human?" and "What is the origin and importance of human diversity?"
  • You want to pursue a career in anthropological research, museum curation, education, health professions, law, non-governmental organizations, or international relations

Potential Careers

Penn State Anthropology graduates excel in diverse professional careers, ranging from academic research, law, medicine, and government to business, cultural resource management, non-governmental organizations, and education. Penn State Anthropology students develop a diversity of sought-after skills in problem-solving, analytical methods, teamwork, and effective oral and written communication. Students are strongly encouraged to become involved in departmental research while at Penn State to augment their training and enhance their prospects for employment or graduate study.

Specific career paths include:

  • Human Services
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Law
  • Health professions
  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Public Health
  • Government Agencies:
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    • US Department of State-Foreign Service
  • Advanced research in the field

More information about careers

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

 Anthropology majors will find that their undergraduate education is excellent preparation for the advanced training required for many professions. Our majors often go on to receive specialized graduate instruction in medicine, law, journalism, public administration, and virtually all of the "human services" fields.

Although many professional schools require that undergraduate applicants have some specialized training (for example, chemistry courses for pre-med students), such course requirements are easily accommodated within the anthropology major. Most professional schools and graduate programs seek well-rounded, broadly educated applicants who can understand the implications of the advanced, specialized training they will receive in post-graduate training.

More information about graduate studies