The science of us, understanding humanity: past, present and future

Department of Anthropology

What is Anthropology?

anthropology noun an·thro·pol·o·gy \ˌan(t)-thrə-ˈpä-lə-jē\

(1) the study of us, focused on understanding human cultures, communities, biologies, artifacts, and ecologies over time and around the world;
(2) the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities

Anthropologists study the biological characteristics, evolutionary history, geographic distribution, environmental adaptations, linguistic practices, social relationships, institutions, customs, knowledge, myths, and cultural processes of human populations.

Meet some of our faculty

Dr. Erika Robb Larkins in fieldDr. Erika Robb Larkins
Cultural Anthropologist
Discussing gentrification with local residents in Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro.
(Photo credit:  Jessica Baham) 
Dr. Erin P. Riley in fieldDr. Erin P. Riley
Biological Anthropologist
Reviewing photo cards for a group of moor macaques (Macaca maura) in Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia.
(Photo credit:  Kate Jameson, SDSU alum)

Dr. Matthew Lauer in the fieldDr. Matthew Lauer
Environmental Anthropologist
Learning from fishermen in French Polynesia.
(Photo credit: Matthew Lauer)

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Why choose our program?

Our programs provide a broad background for the various specialized areas in the field: (a) archaeology, the analysis of past cultures through a focus on material remains or artifacts; (b) socio-cultural anthropology, the study of socio-cultural processes and diversity; (c) linguistic anthropology, the analysis of cultural differences in communication; and (d) biological anthropology, the study of past and present human and primate populations.

Research and special instructional facilities provided by the department include various laboratories and other options for hands-on learning.  Facilities available in the community include the Museum of Man, the San Diego Zoo, and various internship sites for applied research.  

Most importantly, we boast a world-renowned group of specialist tenure track faculty and the best lecturers around. Students who join the Department of Anthropology at SDSU come away with an excellent understanding of human biological and cultural diversity across space and time—past, present, and future.

Meet some of our students

Megan CareyMegan Carey
Milan Joinson-SzekerkaMilan Joinson-Szekerka
Socio-Cultural Anthropology
Robert SanchezRobert Sanchez
Socio-Cultural Anthropology

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What can YOU do with your anthropology degree?

A degree in Anthropology will provide you with critical skills that will make you highly competitive for careers in either the public or private sector, including corporations, consulting firms, and community-based organizations. According to US News, anthropology ranks #5 among the 'best science jobs.' Anthropologists made a median salary of $62,280 in 2017 (25% made over $80K that year). And -- according to the the US Department of Labor -- employment of anthropologists is expected to grow by four percent until at least 2024.

Employment opportunities for anthropology graduates include academic research and teaching as well as nonacademic or applied careers, for example in nonprofit associations, federal, state, local government, and international agencies; in health care, business, and manufacturing organizations; at research institutes; at zoos or wildlife preserves; on environmental projects, doing human-impact assessment or resource management; and in museums.

Meet some of our alumni

Jose Huizar Jose Huizar
Program Manager,
Child Advocates of Placer County
Lew ParletteLew Parlette
Ethnographic Cinematographer and Building Contractor (retired)
Molly Sirota Molly Sirota
Lead Games User Researcher,

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AAS Students

Association of Anthropology Students (AAS)

Provides a forum for the discussion, promotion, and realization of anthropological pursuits for students in the department.

AGSA Students

Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA)

Facilitates a unified graduate student voice and to provide peer support for academic and professional endeavors.

cave paintings

Friends of Anthropology (FOA)

Creates community interest in anthropology, linking students with practical experience and job opportunities.  For information about FOA, contact the department at [email protected].