Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)




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  What is anthropology?  What do anthropologists do?

Anthropology is the study and understanding of humans in all places and throughout time, including the effects of culture on individuals and of individuals on their society.  Anthropology is concerned with how people from various cultures cope with and solve their day-to-day problems.  Anthropology can offer you a perspective for critically analyzing culture and prepare you for multicultural career settings both in the United States and abroad.

Anthropologists are trained specialists who conduct studies of the culture and adaptation of humans.  In order to deal with such a diverse area of study, most anthropologists pursue careers in one of several subdisciplines. The broad fields of anthropology--cultural, linguistic, biological, and archaeology--teach distinctive skills such as applying theories, employing research methodologies, and developing sets of data. For example, sociocultural anthropology records and analyzes the life-styles and folkways of ethnic societies. Biological anthropology is interested in human evolution, variation, and the interaction of environment and culture on human biology. Archaeology focuses on the excavation and analysis of cultural remains. All anthropologists use both a humanistic and scientific approach in their understanding of human behavior.  In addition, anthropologists often specialize in one or more geographic areas of the world--for example, Latin America, Eastern Europe, North America, Oceania, and Africa--with a focus on particular populations and locales in which they example, anthropologists at GVSU have worked with farmers in Mexico, medical problems in Africa, archaeological sites in West Michigan and the Middle East, migrants in South America, and even gurus in India!

  What kinds of jobs can I seek?  How much education do I need? 
What skills should I learn?

The most difficult and frustrating moment for a student adviser comes when the graduating senior appears at the office door in a state of panic because it has finally sunk in that s/he will soon need a job. Yet you probably have never opened a newspaper and seen an "Anthropologist Wanted" section in it. Like any career, putting your skills to use in anthropology needs to be researched and planned!

Students in anthropology acquire transferable abilities rather than specific work-content skills. They acquire skills useful in many careers rather than just skills applicable to one job. Anthropology graduates acquire oral and written communication skills, research skills, "people" or "social/cultural" skills and other transferable skills which are important in many jobs in federal, state and local government agencies, private organizations, educational institutions, business and industries, and international agencies and services. Social facility, critical thinking, and skills in oral and written expression are cultivated by anthropological training. The kaleidoscope of careers reflects the emphasis on breadth, diversity, and independence of thought suited to the job of the future.   For more on Careers in Anthropology

  What kind of degree does the Department of Anthropology offer?

We offer an undergraduate degree with an emphasis on a four subdiscipline, holistic understanding of anthropology, with specialized training in a subfield, and opportunities to experience field work and independent research. 
We offer three kinds of course work: 1. courses concerned with the discipline, 2. courses specializing in a subdiscipline of anthropology, 3. and courses in disciplines related to anthropology. Students majoring in anthropology may earn either a B.A. or a B.S. degree. The B.A. degree requires third-semester proficiency in a foreign language; the B.S. degree requires the completion of courses in biology and statistics.
Majors must complete at least 36 hours in the major, including core courses, electives, a course in sociology, a research methods course, and a research or practical experience.  This experience can be in archaeology or cultural anthropology, or students can arrange a practicum in a specific field setting of their interest. Majors are also strongly encouraged to complete two courses in related cognate areas in other disciplines.  A student who minors in anthropology is required to complete 21 hours in the department, including core courses and at least six of the remaining hours must be at the 300 or 400 level.
For more detailed information, go to: Programs and Degrees

  I like the idea of applying my knowledge and getting practical experience.  Can you tell me more about research opportunities?

The anthropology program regularly sponsors field schools in archaeology and cultural anthropology. These programs are locally based and accessible to commuters as well as on campus students. Occasional opportunities for out-of-country fieldwork are also available. Post-field independent research opportunities are available through the Anthropology Lab which houses a collection of over 200,000 artifacts from over 100 sites.  The Ethnographic Field School will be offered Summer 2001, involving students in applied research in the local community.  Students interested in fieldwork should contact the department.

The Department of Anthropology offers two special scholarships to majors and minors. 

Students can apply for financial aid through the GVSU Financial Aid Office

Does the department have special scholarships for majors and minors? What financial aid is available?  

  I want to meet the faculty.  Who are they and what are their research interests?  How do I contact them? 

  For information on faculty research interests, webpage links, contact information, office hours, etc., please see the Faculty and Staff page.

Page last modified March 30, 2016