Academics & Majors


College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Anthropology
Offered as:
Graduate program


Anthropology is the study of human life and diversity in all places and at all times, addressing the most fundamental questions about human origins and human nature. Four subfields are available in the anthropology program:

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Linguistics
  • Physical anthropology

The most popular concentration is archaeology, for which Washington State University is internationally known.

Specialization tracks available

Strengths of the program
  • The flexible degree program lets you concentrate in cultural anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, or physical anthropology — or receive a broad background in all four.
  • Do research in the field: anthropology students can join WSU faculty at field sites in western North America for cultural, linguistic, archaeological, and physical anthropological research.
  • Your professors are experts in the evolution of cooperation and sharing, cultural ecology, education, religion, international development, and stone-tool manufacturing.
  • The Anthropology Club brings faculty and students together in various activities.
  • At the weekly public colloquium, you can hear from faculty, advanced graduate students, and visiting experts who are there to share their work.
Requirements and core courses

The bachelor of arts in anthropology requires 120 semester hours. At least 40 of the total hours must be in 300- and 400-level courses. A minimum of 33 hours in anthropology courses is required.

Required courses

Anth 203—Peoples of the World
Anth 230—Introduction to Archaeology
Anth 260—Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Anth 490—Integrative Themes in Anthropology
One 300- or 400-level course in each of the four subdisciplines:
     Physical Anthropology
     Cultural Anthropology
Three anthropology electives

Minor in anthropology

A student who has completed 60 semester hours may petition for a minor. A total of at least 18 semester hours in anthropology is required. A minimum grade of C- must be earned in each course contributing to the minor. Requirements include:

Three of the following
     Anth 101 (or 198)—General Anthropology
     Anth 203—Peoples of the World
     Anth 230—Introduction to Archaeology
     Anth 260—Introduction to Physical Anthropology
At least nine hours must be Anth 300- or 400-level work.

Note: See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.

Scholarships and financial aid

A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.

For all students at WSU

Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.

To get all the financial help WSU can provide, you'll need to do these two things:

  • Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration.
  • Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need.

More about scholarships and financial aid

For anthropology majors

Anthropology majors are also eligible for scholarships from the College of Arts and Sciences, which awards more than $50,000 in scholarships each year.

Campus organizations and activities

The Anthropology Club provides activities to bring faculty and students together in informal gatherings.

Anthropology facilities

Students are welcomed in the University's anthropological research facilities. University research labs and museums offer the chance for paid employment and valuable hands-on experience in anthropological techniques.

The University has leading national labs for:

  • Palynology — identification of pollens for reconstruction of past environments
  • Zooarchaeology — identification and interpretation of animal bones from archaeology sites
  • Geoarchaeology — study and interpretation of sediments from archaeology sites
  • Lithic technology — analysis and interpretation of stone tools

WSU is one of the few schools where students can learn to replicate stone tools, which makes it possible to interpret the stone tools and waste flakes found in archaeological sites.

The Museum of Anthropology offers employment and volunteer opportunities for students. Its exhibits and activities enrich instruction and draw the public. The museum’s collections include aboriginal baskets of notable importance from several areas of the western United States and collections resulting from the activities of WSU archaeologists during the last 40 years.

Suggested strengths, interests, and preparation

The two most important things you'll need if you're going to do well and enjoy studying anthropology are a strong interest in people and culture and good research skills.

Careers in anthropology

Training in anthropology provides an excellent liberal arts background for many professions. WSU anthropology graduates are employed in museums, the National Park Service, archaeological crews, the Peace Corps, and other international development organizations.

Anthropology gives you an understanding of human diversity that is also useful in jobs that don’t require an anthropology degree. A major in anthropology is an excellent basis for teaching, legal professions, international business, foreign service, and graduate work in other social sciences or the humanities.

What you can do with a degree in anthropology:

  • Archaeologist, museum curator
  • Local and international environmental impact consultant
  • Forensic anthropologist
  • Government service
  • University professor, teacher
  • Writer, journalist
  • International business consultant
  • Cultural impact consultant

Skills you can market with a degree in anthropology:

  • Critical analysis of human behavior, organization, and development
  • Research skills in quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis
  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Ability to work solo or as a team member
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Reading and listening comprehension
  • Time management and organization