1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Undergraduate Overview

Anthropology ... is the study of culture and cultural diversity throughout the world. It is a broad field which is classically divided into four areas: socio-cultural anthropology, the study of contemporary societies; archaeology, the study of the material remains of past societies; linguistics, the study of the structure and principles of language; and biological anthropology, the study of human evolution and human biological diversity.


There are currently 23 anthropology faculty members. Four of the faculties are archaeologists, who specialize in North American prehistoric and historical archaeology, the ancient Middle East, and Africa. Four are linguists, with particular expertise in African, Native American, Middle Eastern, and Melanesian languages and sociolinguistics. The majority of the faculty consists of socio-cultural anthropologists, whose teaching and research interests span the globe and engage numerous theoretical interests. Particular geographical concentrations include the cultures of South Asia, East Asia, Indonesia, Melanesia, the Caribbean, Native South America, Europe, and North America.


There are currently over 200 students majoring in anthropology. While this number represents a diverse group of students with a wide range of interests, it is small enough to maintain a high rate of faculty-student interaction. Students are encouraged to participate in faculty research, and many have worked with faculty conducting ethnographic research, and archaeological field and laboratory work.

Upon graduation, some students pursue graduate degrees in specialized areas, preparing themselves for careers in teaching, research, or applied anthropology. Many go on to careers in law and medicine, aided by their knowledge of anthropological concepts such as cultural diversity and human evolution. In addition, there are more business opportunities open to the anthropologist today, as our current era of global economics demands the appreciation of different cultural perspectives. Still, many enter educational fields and social services: teaching in the U.S. and abroad; joining the Peace Corps; and working in museums and on archaeological excavations.


Declaring an Anthropology Major/Minor: To declare an Anthropology major, e-mail the Director of the Undergraduate program, Carrie Douglass, at cbd7eb@virginia.edu">cbd7eb@virginia.edu to say that you want to declare an Anthropology major, and she will assign you an advisor. When you meet with your advisor, she or he will sign you up for the major and will help you with your major declaration form. The current advisors are:

  • Yarimar Bonilla
  • Lise Dobrin
  • Carrie Douglass
  • Ravindra Khare
  • George Mentore
  • Rachel Most
  • Steve Plog
  • Roy Wagner

On the day of your appointment, bring along a major declaration form (pick it up in Monroe Hall) and access your Academic Requirement Report in SIS. It is not obligatory to print out the AR SIS form (which can be many pages), but you do need to remember what anthropology courses you have had and when you took them. It also helps to look over the Anthropology section of the Undergraduate Record before your meeting, so that you have an idea of what the requirements are and what courses you would like to use to complete your major. Usually the person who helps you fill out the declaration form becomes your major advisor. Once you have declared the major, your course registration information will be sent to you from the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Anthropology. We encourage you to make an advising appointment with your advisor every term. To declare an Anthropology minor, follow the steps outlined above. You will not need to bring any forms with you to your appointment.

Independent Study in Anthropology

For students who want to work on an individual research project, ANTH 4993 allows considerable flexibility. There is no formal limitation on the kind of project as long as a faculty member is willing to direct it, but the projects should not duplicate what is already available in a regular course. Applicants should have their projects roughly defined when they apply to the faculty member. The normal requirements for ANTH 4993 are a reading list comparable in substance to those in regular courses and a term paper and oral examination at the end of the semester. courses and a term paper and oral examination at the end of the semester.

For additional information contact Carrie Douglass, Director of the Undergraduate Program, at cbd7eb@virginia.edu or (434) 924-7044.