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An anthropology student digs at a French Colonial burial site in Biloxi.


No matter what path you take in life, anthropology will help you understand why people do what they do and give you skills to work with people from diverse backgrounds.

Why Anthropology?

Have you dreamed of traveling to far-off lands? Are you fascinated by past civilizations? Do you wonder where humans come from and how we came to be this way? Do you have a diverse range of interests and want a major that helps you to integrate them?

If so, anthropology is for you! Anthropology is the study of what makes us human and the rich diversity of ways in which that humanity has been expressed in different places and times from the present day to the distant past.

A few of the topics studied by anthropologists are:

  • how cultures vary and how they change with culture contact
  • how prehistoric peoples lived and died
  • how humans interact with the environment
  • how different cultures understand and treat illness and disease
  • how language reflects and influences social life


Two introductory courses, ANT 221 Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology and ANT 231 Archeology and Biological Anthropology, introduce students to the four sub-fields of Anthropology.

Students can then choose from a variety of content and skills courses that complement their career interests and professional aspirations.

Degree Options

There is one Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree available with this major.

More about this Major


Most positions filled by anthropologists do not carry the word anthropology in their title; however, the unique combination of skills and experiences of anthropologists helps them to compete successfully for many different jobs, including:

  • Cultural resource manager
  • Foreign service officer
  • Forensic anthropologist
  • Human and social services worker
  • Human rights and social justice advocate
  • Market research analyst
  • Museum curator or educator
  • Nonprofit manager
  • Program analyst
  • Public health worker
  • Teacher/professor
  • Zoo curator
The number of times USM department anthropologists were called in to assist law enforcement since 2005: 35
Anthropology opened my eyes and my mind to the world around me. Now I know I can play a much larger part in this world than I ever thought.

Courses You Might Take

ANT 317: Culture and Power in Latin America

A map of the United States and Central and South America

Latin America is a large region composed of many different ethnic groups and histories. This course explores some of this diversity, along with presenting a more general understanding of the cultural beliefs and practices in the region.

ANT 336: Archaeology of Ancient Civilizations

Columns from an ancient structure

This course offers an archaeological analysis of the complex processes of the rise and decline of state-level societies through the examination of the archaeological remains of ancient civilizations around the world.

ANT 342: Forensic Anthropology

A skeleton's hand

This course is designed to introduce the student to the study of the human skeleton and its use in forensic settings. Students will learn to identify the human skeleton, including fragmentary remains, and discuss interpretation of remains, including determination of age, sex, race, individual identification, and trauma.

Students will learn the applications of this information in forensic analysis, such as crime scene recovery and time since death, as well as its presentation to law enforcement agencies.

ANT 433: Prehistory of Southeastern Indians

Southeastern prehistory charts the development of pre-contact Native American cultures from the time of the first arrivals more than 10,000 years ago to the time of contact with the first European explorers. It explores themes such as technological developments, subsistence and adaption, exchange, ceremonialism, and cultural complexity by examining current archaeological evidence and its interpretation.

ANT 436: Archaeology Field Methods

A student at a field site

Field school is a 5- to 6-week summer course. Recent field schools have been taught on antebellum plantation sites and Native American mound centers. Students learn mapping, recording, excavation, artifact recovery methods, soil description, and stratigraphic interpretation.

Field trips to other excavations and nearby archaeological sites are often included.

ANT 442: Medical Anthropology

A patient in a bed in a hospital

In this class students will follow an anthropological perspective – using evolutionary and cross-cultural approaches to understand human health issues. This course will examine cultural variation in the categorization, diagnosis and treatment of disease and illness while exploring how food and diet play key roles in determining health.

Meet Some of Your Professors

Marie Danforth


Favorite Course: ANT 342: Forensic Anthropology

Expertise: Biological Anthropology, Forensic Anthropology

Bridget Hayden

Associate Professor

Favorite Course: ANT 317: Culture and Power in Latin America

Expertise: Cultural Anthropology

Ed Jackson


Favorite Course: Prehistory of the Southeastern U.S.

Expertise: Archaeology

B. Katherine Smith

Assistant Professor

Favorite Course: ANT 442: Medical Anthropology

Expertise: Biological Anthropology, Primatology

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