Area of Focus
  • Behavioral & Social Sciences
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Social Sciences
  • Anthropology

Program overview

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.


Learning Experience

The Anthropology Undergraduate Program incorporates three subfields of anthropology: anthropological archaeology, cultural anthropology, and biological 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 biological anthropology
  • Undergraduate minor in Anthropology
  • Combined B.A. degree in Earth Sciences/Anthropology
  • Ph.D. program in Anthropology with tracks in biological anthropology, archaeology or cultural anthropology
  • Independent study courses are available for students interested in lab work, internships, and independent research

The Archaeology and Biological Anthropology Laboratories are dedicated to teaching and research in both anthropological archaeology and biological anthropology. Within the labs are spaces for the study of Indigenous-colonial encounters, spatial archaeology (GIS), zooarchaeology, paleogenomics, and primate behavior. The laboratories maintain collections related to local Monterey Bay archaeology, as well as comparative vertebrate osteology and taphonomic specimens.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

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.

Student talking with a professor

Transfer Requirements

This is a non-screening major. Students planning to apply in this major are not required to complete specific major preparation courses before they come to UC Santa Cruz.

Transfer students are encouraged to complete courses equivalent to lower division Anthropology 1, 2, and 3 before coming to UC Santa Cruz:

  • Anthropology 1, Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • 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 website. Students may petition for lower-division courses not included in articulated transfer course agreements.

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.

Two students talking over a meal

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate understanding of the core concepts in three primary subfields of anthropology: cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of cultural variation and the diversity of perspectives, practices, and beliefs found within each culture and across cultures.
  • Integrates cultural, biological, and archaeological perspectives on human bodies, behavior, materialities, and institutions.
  • Demonstrates the ability to write clearly by formulating well-organized arguments that are grounded in supporting evidence while countering evidence that contradicts the student’s claims.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of basic steps involved in scholarly research, including locating and critically evaluating scholarly and other information sources relevant to the chosen topic.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of long term changes in the conditions that have shaped humans and the environments they inhabit.

Internships and Career Opportunities

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: activism, advertising, city planning, cultural resource management, 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.

Program Contact



apartment 361 Social Sciences 1
phone (831)

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