Anthropology is the comprehensive study of people. It explores the fascinating realm of human biological evolution and variation – where we came from and how we came to be Homo sapiens. Anthropology is also the way that humans, in all parts of the world and from prehistoric times to today, adapt to their environment. From groups such as families, clans, tribes, and nations, humans regulate behavior through sanctions, laws, and government; worship and celebrate; communicate; educate their young; and change to meet new challenges.

Anthropology gives students a new perspective for understanding and interpreting the world around them by learning how people in different parts of the world live their lives and interact with their environment. To achieve this, all majors are required to take courses in each of the four main subdivisions of the discipline: archaeology, the analysis of past cultures; sociocultural anthropology, the study of cultural differences in contemporary societies; linguistic anthropology, examination of the relationship between language and other aspects of culture—the ways people communicate; and biological anthropology, the analysis of the biological characteristics of past and present primate and human populations.

As anthropology majors, students explore humankind, focusing on the similarities and differences between humans and other primates, as well as the similarities and differences found in human populations yesterday and today. The anthropology curriculum enables students to develop a broad background but also pursue specialized coursework in their subfield(s) of interest.

Program Overview

Several classes are taken in preparation for the major, including introduction to cultural anthropology, introduction to biological anthropology and introduction to archaeology. Majors must also complete a language requirement and a writing assessment requirement. Majors must take four upper division courses: Principles of Biological Anthropology, Principles of Archaeology, Principles of Anthropological Linguistics, and History of Ethnological Theory and six units in methods courses. The remaining units are electives, at least 15 of which must be in anthropology.

Special Features

  • The Association of Anthropology Students (AAS) of SDSU consists of anthropology majors and other interested students on campus. The student group sponsors lectures by noted authorities, organizes informal discussions about the discipline, and holds a full schedule of social activities from barbecues to camp-outs for students, faculty and staff.
  • Ethnographic field classes are held in Baja California, Mexico and Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • The San Diego Museum of Man has an ongoing relationship with the department that benefits students interested in skeletal biology and forensics.
  • Training in methods in primatology is available through classes held at the San Diego Zoo, as well as field research opportunities in Indonesia, China and Florida.
  • The department has a number of laboratories, including The Environmental Anthropology and Archaeology Lab (EAAL), the Biological Anthropology Lab (BAL), and the Historical Archaeology/Maya Research Lab (HAMR), which provide students with "hands-on" research experience. Professors provide detailed training using a variety of anthropological resources, such as artifacts and skeletal materials, to enhance student learning.
  • Internships are available through the department in a variety of interesting settings, from county government to private companies working in Cultural Resource Management. Students can also complete internships through the San Diego State University Collections Management Program and the South Coastal Information Center, both of which are housed on campus. The practical experience gained as an intern often leads to employment.

Career Opportunities

Anthropology is a good preparation for jobs in government, business, social services, news media, museums, and education that require an understanding of cultural and national differences and the ability to work with people from different backgrounds. Archaeologists are employed by local, state, and federal government agencies and small and large consulting and environmental firms to preserve, salvage, and restore archaeological resources.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services Web site.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Anthropology program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.