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Anthropology Frequently Asked Questions

 What are the overall strengths of the Anthropology Program?

  • Anthropology is a practical and relevant major for the 21st Century.
  • Students gain strong writing, research, and analytical skills.
  • Faculty offers courses that explore multiple aspects of society.
  • Our global-oriented course materials stress critical thinking and scientific interpretations of cultures, peoples, and places.
  • We have a small faculty-to-student ratio, individualized learning experiences and opportunities, and the major can be completed in 4 semesters.
  • We offer courses in all of the four subfields of Anthropology: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Linguistic Anthropology.
  • Students can pursue the breadth of anthropology with a General Anthropology major or concentrate in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, or Cultural Anthropology.
  • A sampling of our courses includes: Regional studies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South-East Asia; Language and Culture; Ethnographic Research Methods; Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Analysis; Archaeology of Food; the Evolution of Primate Sexuality and Reproduction; Anthropology of War; Medical Anthropology; Development Studies.

 Why major in Anthropology at JMU?

Anthropology’s goal is to document the diversity of ways that humans live and have lived throughout the world and over time. Anthropologists go “off road,” working directly with people and their artifacts, to examine their beliefs and values, how they make a living, how they express themselves, how they interact, and how they affect and are affected by the natural world.

 What career competencies does the Anthropology major offer?

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Designing critical questions, asking critical questions, and formulating data-driven solutions
  • Oral and written communication
  • Using qualitative and quantitative data
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Digital technology
  • Fluency in global/intercultural and social dynamics

 What kinds of experiential learning opportunities does the Anthropology Program offer?

We encourage many different kinds of experiential learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom. Our majors gain experience through internships and service learning, conduct excavations and field-based and lab research, publish with professors, present their research data at conferences, and serve as teaching assistants. They participate in short-term and semester-long study abroad programs and field schools in the USA and overseas.

 What are typical class sizes in Anthropology?

The introductory level courses can be large and range between 40 and 200 students. Lots of students who major in other subjects take our introductory courses to gain valuable skills. Our upper level classes, however, are smaller in size, ranging between 10 to 30 students. Our lab-based, hands-on classes may have only 5 to 7 students. This allows faculty to really focus on the training and directing of their students.

 Can you tell me more about the types of careers that Anthropology majors go into after graduation?

During their time at JMU, our majors develop their own career interests that reflect not only what they are learning with their professors but also their growing interests in the world around them. Our majors are self-selecting and self-starters. They have clarity of purpose and are highly motivated to learn and gain new skills. These are some of the careers that our majors have pursued and found rewarding:

  • The Smithsonian
  • The National Park Service
  • Archaeological Firms
  • Publishing Houses
  • Media Organizations
  • Museums
  • Public Health Programs
  • Healthcare Organizations
  • NGOs
  • Graduate and Professional schools
  • Law School, Business School
  • Communications and Public Relations
  • Counseling Professions
  • Marketing Companies
  • Human Resources
  • Government agencies
  • Financial Services
  • Peace Corps, Americorps, Teach for America
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Fundraising
  • Policy Institutes
  • International Affairs
  • Federal, State, and Local Government



 What about graduate school?

If and when our students go to graduate school, it is typically after a few years of post-JMU work experience, although some students have gone directly on to graduate and professional studies after completing their undergraduate Anthropology major. Students who seek graduate studies after working for a few years tend to use that time to consider what they will need from a graduate education to further develop their career trajectory. Some of our students stay in Anthropology for graduate school. Many of our students, however, go into new fields, such as Cultural Resource Management, Public Health, Human Resources, Public Administration, and International Affairs. The Anthropology major is a great springboard for the next stages of our students’ lives.

 Tell me about the faculty. How will they mentor me?

Our faculty are excellent. They win awards for teaching and research. They are all actively engaged in research and their professional fields. Each faculty member mentors 10-15 majors within the department. This means that our students receive individualized mentoring and build strong, long-lasting networks with their advisers that continue after our students graduate from JMU.

 Does the Anthropology Program offer career advising?

Each year alumni from both Anthropology and Sociology return to JMU to meet with and advise our current students. Anthropology classes regularly contain material focused on career planning. Faculty advise and supervise internships. Faculty also consult with the University Career Center on ways to position our majors to determine and develop their professional tracks. Career advising begins on the first day of your major and continues well beyond graduation!

 How can I get more information?

Please email Dr. Amy Paugh, Anthropology Program Coordinator in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, at if you have any questions or would like to visit the department, meet with faculty, and visit our labs.

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