The Anthropology Major 2012-13
Anthropology studies what it means to be human, and how humans make meaning. Anthropologists look at people from all angles: how they come to be, what they create, and how they give significance to their lives. At the center of the discipline are questions of physical evolution and adaptability, material evidence for past life ways, similarities and differences among past and present peoples, and the political and ethical dilemmas of studying cultures. Anthropology is a rich and integrative discipline that prepares students to live and work effectively in a diverse and increasingly interconnected world. The Anthropology undergraduate program incorporates three subfields of anthropology: anthropological archaeology, cultural anthropology, and physical anthropology. Students take courses in all three subfields in order to develop a multifaceted perspective on being human.
Study and Research Opportunities
- B.A. program in anthropology with courses in archaeology, cultural anthropology, and physical anthropology
- Undergraduate minor in anthropology
- Combined B.A. degree in Earth sciences/anthropology
- Ph.D. program in anthropology with concentrations in archaeology or cultural anthropology
- Independent study courses available for students interested in labwork, internships, and independent research
High School Preparation
High school students who plan to major in anthropology at UC Santa Cruz need no special background other than the courses necessary for UC admission.
Transfer students are encouraged to complete courses equivalent to Anthropology 1, 2, and 3 before coming to UC Santa Cruz:
- Anthropology 1, Introduction to Human Evolution
- Anthropology 2, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
- Anthropology 3, Introduction to Archaeology
Transfer course agreements and articulation between the University of California and California Community Colleges can be accessed on the ASSIST.ORG web site.
The Anthropology Department also allows students to petition up to two upper-division anthropology courses from another four-year university (including universities abroad) to count towards the major requirements.
Transfer students should send an unofficial copy of their transcripts for any anthropology courses they have completed to the Anthropology Department as soon as possible so that prerequisites can be verified and course enrollment can proceed smoothly.
The Anthropology Major
Thirteen courses are required for the anthropology major: four lower-division courses in preparation for upper-division courses, and nine upper-division courses. The lower-division courses are prerequisites for most upper-division courses and should be completed as early as possible; however, students do not have to complete all lower-division courses before starting to take upper-division courses. Some upper-division courses have additional prerequisites.
The Anthropology Minor
Ten courses are required for the anthropology minor: four lower-division courses and six upper-division courses.
The senior comprehensive requirement in anthropology must be completed for the major but is not required for the anthropology minor. This requirement can be fulfilled by passing an advanced senior seminar course (Anthropology 194 series), by writing an approved independent senior thesis, or by passing a graduate-level anthropology course. Senior seminars are small, writing-intensive classes focused on advanced topics in anthropology. Successful completion of courses 1, 2, and 3 is a prerequisite for admission to a senior seminar. In addition, senior seminars are restricted to anthropology majors.
Students considering an independent thesis must arrange for the sponsorship and support of a faculty member before beginning research. A Senior Thesis Approval Form must be submitted to the department, with the faculty sponsor’s signature, at least two quarters before the thesis will be submitted. An independent senior thesis (not written within a 194-series course) should be based on original research and reflect the student’s understanding of fundamental theories and issues in anthropology. The thesis should be comparable in content, style, and length (generally 25-30 pages) to a professional journal article in its sub-field. Students writing a senior thesis must complete five, instead of four, upper-division electives.
Students considering a graduate-level anthropology course must get permission from the instructor teaching the course in order to enroll and must complete an approval form in order to receive credit towards the senior comprehensive requirement. Only students with exceptional undergraduate records are given permission to take graduate-level courses.
The Combined Major
The Earth Sciences Department offers a combined major with the Anthropology Department. This major is designed for anthropology students interested in the laboratory-based side of anthropology, including archaeology and paleoanthropology, who desire more intensive training in the natural and Earth sciences. The combined major allows students to receive a strong grounding in both disciplines without pursuing a double major or major/minor.
Declaring the Major
Students must prepare a program of study in consultation with the Anthropology Department Undergraduate Adviser and an Anthropology faculty member in order to declare the major or minor. Students declaring the combined major must meet with both the Anthropology and Earth Sciences Departments. Students who plan to attend graduate school should plan course schedules in close consultation with faculty advisers. Students are not assigned a faculty adviser; rather, students should consult with Anthropology faculty who conduct research that is in line with their interests. There are no prerequisites for declaring the anthropology major or minor, although students are encouraged to complete some of the lower-division courses before declaring. Students should speak with the Earth Sciences Department to confirm prerequisites for declaring the combined major.
Opportunities Outside of the Department
Anthropology students are encouraged to take courses in other departments; however, these courses will not count towards the major or minor requirements. Students are also encouraged to participate in internships in the community and should see the department web site for contact information for the department Internship/Field Study Coordinator. In addition, various schools offer field school courses, which are great opportunities for students to gain valuable field experience; some of these schools include UCLA, the Sierra Institute at Humboldt State, and Cabrillo Community College.
All anthropology students should obtain a copy of the Anthropology Undergraduate Handbook from the department web site.The Undergraduate Handbook outlines information about department procedures and requirements, program planning, independent study, and faculty interests.
The UCSC Anthropology Department has 21 faculty members teaching in the sub-disciplines of anthropological archaeology, cultural anthropology, and physical anthropology. They are joined each quarter by visiting lecturers, researchers, and teaching fellows, creating a vibrant academic community. Many of the department’s faculty have been recognized with excellence in teaching awards. Please visit the department web site at the following link to view faculty information: anthro.ucsc.edu/faculty.
As a supplement to academic advising offered by faculty members and the undergraduate adviser, the Anthropology Department has instituted a peer adviser program. Peer advisers are juniors and seniors in the anthropology major who have been trained to assist students with questions and general guidance through the anthropology major. Peer advisers hold regular drop-in advising hours each quarter in the department office. Drop-in advising hours are posted outside the department office.
Honors in anthropology are awarded to the top 15 percent of graduating anthropology seniors based on GPA within the major. Highest Honors in the major are reserved for students in the top 15 percent who have shown overall superlative performance in the major and general breadth of excellence across the subfields of anthropology. Receiving honors on the senior exit requirement is also considered as a factor in awarding highest honors, but is not always determinative. When applicable, narrative evaluations can be taken into consideration for highest honors.
Anthropology is an excellent major for students considering careers that involve communication, writing, critical analysis of information, and high levels of cultural interaction. Anthropology graduates pursue careers in fields such as: advertising, city planning, education/teaching, forensics, journalism, marketing, medicine/health care, politics, public health, social work, museums, writing, systems analysis, environmental consulting, community development, and law. Students interested in research and teaching in anthropology usually continue on to graduate school as professional employment in the field typically requires an advanced degree.
Jamais Cascio, (B.A., anthropology and history, '88) is a writer, leader, visionary, and research fellow at the Institute for the Future. The journal Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 global thinkers and a "moral guide to the future."
Sasha Su-Ling Wieland (Ph.D., Anthropology, ’06), an associate professor in Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington, is the author of A Thousand Miles of Dreams: The Journeys of Two Chinese Sisters. Through telling the stories of her grandmother and great aunt, two sisters who came of age in China in the 1920s, the book explores the international roots of feminism.
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