Anthropology is the comprehensive study of people. It explores the fascinating world of human biological evolution and variation and the way humans in all parts of the world, from prehistoric times to today, adapt to their environment; form groups such as families, clans, tribes, and nations; survive and become extinct; 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, from the past and present, in different parts of the world live their lives and adapt to their environment. To achieve this, all majors are required to take courses in each of the four main subdivisions of anthropology: archaeology, the analysis of past cultures; cultural 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 physical or biological anthropology, analysis of the biological characteristics of past and present peoples and other primates.

As anthropology majors, students explore humankind, focusing on the similarities and differences between humans and other primates, as well as the similarities and differences in culture found in human populations yesterday and today. By taking courses in the four sub-disciplines, students develop a broad background which prepares them for numerous career paths.

Program Overview

Several classes are taken in preparation for the major, including introduction to cultural anthropology, introduction to biological anthropology and archaeology, introduction to statistics, and three one-unit computer courses. Majors must take four upper division courses: Principles of Physical Anthropology, Principles of Archaeology, Principles of Anthropological Linguistics, and History of Ethnological Theory. The remaining units of required upper-division anthropology courses are electives which are chosen from each of the three categories, area regional, theory, and methods.

Special Features

  • The Association of Anthropology Students 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.
  • On-the-job training programs are available to outstanding students.
  • Archaeological field classes are held in Campache, Mexico, at the Torrey Pines State Reserve and the Nate Harrison site on Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, the Whaley House in Old Town, San Diego and in conservation archeology on the SDSU campus.
  • 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 and China.
  • Archaeology, Linguistic, Physical/Biological Anthropology, and computer laboratories provide the student with "hands-on" 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. 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.