Anthropology Undergraduate Guide

Wayne State's Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology is unique because it provides a combination of skills from both laboratory science and the humanities. Anthropology majors apply these skills in a wide variety of careers from healthcare to business, to cultural heritage, government and research, and more! Our student-led Anthropology Learning Community, which focuses on off-campus experiences in Detroit, ensures we have fun while learning these skills inside and outside of the classroom!


What is anthropology?  

Anthropology is the study of humanity, past and present, around the world and here in Detroit. It seeks to understand what all humans have in common, as well as our biological and cultural diversity. Anthropologists study people by living and talking with them, interpreting myths and rituals, and analyzing human remains and artifacts recovered from archaeological sites and crime or mass disaster scenes.

Why study anthropology?

Our program is a vibrant community where students train in the four anthropological subfields: cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology and linguistic anthropology. We place special emphasis on preparing students to apply their anthropological skills to a wide range of careers in professional settings in Detroit and around the world.   

Careers in anthropology include marketing, consumer research, museums, user experience, design, law, nonprofit administration, government relations, environmental consulting, healthcare and medicine, cultural resource management and policy analysis.

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Plan of work

The anthropology major is a 34-credit major that includes introductory classes in each subfield, a research methods course, a history of anthropology course and a capstone seminar. Students also take three anthropology electives to complete the major. This sample plan of work is organized around a four-year schedule, but many anthropology students declare their major later in their undergraduate careers without a problem.

Sample undergraduate plan of work (four years)

Semester Name of course Credits
Year one: Fall ANT 1100: Intro to Anthropology 3
Year one: Winter   3
Year two: Fall  ANT 3310: Language and Culture 3
Year two: Winter ANT elective one 3
Year two: Winter ANT 3030: History of Anthropology  3
Year three: Fall ANT 3020: Intro to Archaeology 3
Year three: Fall  ANT elective two 3
Year three: Winter ANT 3333: Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology 3
Year four: Fall ANT Methods 4
Year four: Winter ANT elective three 3
Year four: Winter ANT 5996: Capstone Seminar in Anthropology 3
Total  34

Examples of anthropology electives

  • ANT 2020: Global Detroit
  • ANT 2400: Food and Culture
  • ANT 3220: The Inca and their Ancestors
  • ANT 3400: Introduction to Medical Anthropology
  • ANT 3410: Global Health
  • ANT 3520: Understanding Africa
  • ANT 3530: Native Americans
  • ANT 3540: Cultures and Societies of Latin America
  • ANT 3550: Arab Society in Transition
  • ANT 3560: World’s Religions
  • ANT 3700: Globalization: Theories Practices & Implications
  • ANT 5060: Urban Anthropology
  • ANT 5140: Biology and Culture
  • ANT 5180: Forensic Anthropology

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Our community

Being a student in the anthropology department means more than just completing anthropology courses. We are a lively, diverse community with many opportunities to get to know fellow students, staff and faculty and learn about anthropology. These range from films to group tours of interesting places in Detroit, movie screenings, study sessions and “First Friday” lectures (held on the first Friday of each month during the academic year.)

Many of our field trips are sponsored by the Anthropology Learning Community (LC), open to all undergraduate students. The Anthropology Learning Community is one of the best ways to get to know other anthropology students outside of the classroom. LC activities vary from historical tours around Detroit, to behind-the-scenes visits to local museums, coffee hours and movie nights. All LC events aim to create a sense of togetherness for students with a common interest in anthropology. LC events are open to majors, minors and students who are best described as “friends of the department” – and in some cases, family and friends too. LC activities vary each year and are sometimes tied to the curricula of specific classes – so be on the lookout for the events we offer each semester.

The LC is also an important source of academic support. Peer mentors, who are typically advanced undergraduate anthropology students, provide tutoring support to other students (ask your professor for their contact information). If you're an anthropology major who's taken a significant number of 2000 and 3000-level courses in the anthropology curriculum and you're interested in working as a peer mentor contact the undergraduate program director.

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Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

The UROP program is a university-wide program designed to provide undergraduate students with research opportunities and financial support to take part in research. It's a competitive program with two deadlines each year in November and March to support projects taking place in the fall or winter/spring/summer semesters. Grantees receive approximately $2000 to support their research.

Students interested in research opportunities, including UROP projects should discuss them with professors who work in related areas of study or with the undergraduate director at least several months before the UROP deadlines to develop the project and to write the application. Projects are always done under the mentorship of a professor and can be a student’s original research or part of a faculty member’s research with which the student will assist. The anthropology department has a good track record in receiving these awards and we encourage students interested in conducting research to apply.

Learn more about UROP

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Anthropology departmental honors

Students who wish to graduate with departmental honors will complete an honors essay under the supervision of a faculty mentor. This should be on a topic that is mutually agreed on with their mentor. These essays are ideally completed over two semesters with the faculty mentor advising the student through the research and writing process. Students interested in departmental honors should speak with the undergraduate director and then email prospective honors essay mentors to discuss possible topics and timelines.

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Things you can do with an anthropology major

The skills and concepts you learn while studying anthropology are a superb foundation for several careers and future directions of study at the graduate level. As with nearly all college majors, many of these jobs do not advertise themselves as “anthropology” jobs but these fields utilize anthropological concepts and Wayne State anthropology graduates have a history of success in jobs with these titles.

Private sector: Marketing, consumer data analyst, research and implementation user, experience (UX) research, research associate, resource specialist, cultural resource management (CRM), field technician (CRM), public relations, legal support, environmental consulting, health care and medicine.

Government: Cultural resource management (NPS), behavioral scientist (CDC), data analysis officer (CIA), historic preservation specialist, autopsy technician, death investigator, crime scene investigator, disaster response/emergency management/mass fatality management.

Nonprofit: Program manager, museum curator, museum exhibit designer, educator.

Graduate School: An undergraduate degree in anthropology provides s strong foundation for professional education in law, medicine, public health, business and academic M.A./Ph.D. programs in anthropology and related social sciences. Many students who plan on receiving an M.A. degree elect to join Wayne State's highly successful accelerated degree program after graduating.

View career outlook

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Accelerated Graduate Enrollment (AGRADE)

The AGRADE program allows students to get a head start toward a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology while completing their undergraduate degree. To be AGRADE eligible, credits must be in a course that is also part of the M.A. core curriculum and M.A. methods group. In addition, students may count up to three other 5000-level courses as AGRADE electives towards the M.A., with the exception of ANT 5996: Capstone Seminar. No more than 16 undergraduate credits may count towards the M.A. in AGRADE. At 90 undergraduate credits, students can meet with their academic advisor and undergraduate director to determine their eligibility for AGRADE. 

To be eligible for AGRADE students must have a 3.3 GPA in their major. In their final undergraduate year, AGRADE students apply for the M.A. program like all other applicants, but upon entering the program, their AGRADE-eligible courses will count towards the completion of the M.A. degree.

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