Anthropology Program

Despite its relatively small size, the Anthropology Program at Marshall University incorporates a number of resources typically expected of much larger departments.  These include an Archaeological and Ethnological Laboratory, where materials from the MU Archaeological Field School are stored and analyzed.  The program also owns an extensive collection of ethnographic artifacts from all over the world (formerly of the Sunrise Museum in Charleston, WV). We are part of the work of the Oral History of Appalachia Collection, a vast oral history archive comprised of thousands of interviews conducted in Appalachia over the last 45 years. No other anthropology program in West Virginia has such resources, available for research to both students and faculty, in and out of state.

From the Greek anthropos (“human”) and logia (“study”), anthropology is the study of humankind. For anthropologists, there are few limits on the scope of our inquiry—from distant human origins to the immediacy of our present day.

Though relatively easy to define, anthropology can be tough to describe. Its subject matter is both extraordinary (mortuary practices of the Toraja) and ordinary (anatomy of the human foot). Our focus can be sweeping (the development of language) and minute (use-wear patterns on a prehistoric obsidian tool). As an anthropologist, you may study ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, intravenous drug use in urban Appalachia or corporate culture in a U.S. car manufacturer.

Anthropology provides an educational experience that people use to better understand and find their way in the increasingly complex and often divisive world that we live in today. Because of the integrative and holistic work anthropologists are doing around the world, the products and services people use every day are being designed better, limited environmental resources are managed more effectively, valuable cultural heritage and diverse languages can be preserved for future generations, and human lives are saved through improved healthcare delivery.

The anthropology program at Marshall University seeks to ensure that each student develops a solid foundation in the basic principles, theories and techniques of analysis within the discipline. The curriculum ensures that students are introduced to all four disciplinary subfields: social-cultural anthropology, physical-biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics. Since students majoring in anthropology vary in their interests and career goals, the curriculum allows for flexibility in developing individual courses of study, including opportunities for involvement in faculty research through course offerings and independent study.

Find the information on this page and more in the MU Anthropology Student Handbook.

Bachelors Major in Anthropology

To graduate with a major in anthropology, a student must take 39 credits of required core classes and electives as described below.  The required core of the anthropology major consists of 24 credits (8 classes):

  • ANT 201 Cultural Anthropology (Offered every term including summer on-campus and on-line)
  • ANT 322 Archaeology (Offered annually)
  • ANT 331 Physical Anthropology (Offered every other year)
  • ANT 361 Ethnographic Methods (Offered every year)
  • ANT 371 Linguistic Anthropology (Offered every year)
  • ANT 491 Theory in Ethnology (Offered every year)
  • ANT 492 Senior Seminar I (Offered every year in the Fall; a professional preparation course)  *Must be taken in sequence, i.e., followed Senior Seminar II
  • ANT 493 Senior Seminar II (Offered every year in the Spring; the Capstone course)

An additional minimum of 15 credits of electives must be chosen from classes with the ANT prefix.

A student with a particular anthropological interest that can be best served by courses without the ANT prefix may suggest a coherent selection of up to 9 credits from such classes to be counted towards the major as electives. A written rationale and plan for such a selection must be presented to and approved by the student’s academic advisor in Anthropology and the department Chair in the student’s junior year or, for those students entering the program at the junior level, at a time stipulated by the Chair

The major in Anthropology has three (optional) Areas of Emphasis: Archaeological Anthropology (AOE Code: LA11); Anthropology of Health (AOE Code: LA12); and, Sociocultural Anthropology (AOE Code: LA13).

Departmental Honors

The very best Anthropology students are encouraged to consider graduating with Departmental Honors. To graduate with honors in Anthropology a student must enroll in two subsequent 3 credit courses for a total of 6 credits over one year; a 3 credit ANT 485 Independent Study and ANT 493 Senior Seminar II (Capstone) will be the ordinary sequence, but if necessary the courses can be taken in the reversed order.

The prerequisites for obtaining permission to pursue the Honors in Anthropology option are: the student must be a declared Anthropology major in Junior or Senior standing, have a GPA in all concluded anthropology classes of a minimum of 3.5, and have a written agreement with a faculty member, who will act as the advisor. In the first term, the student will prepare a study plan and literature review for an independent research project; at the end of the term, this work must be presented to a committee of at least three faculty members who will together determine the grade.

The prerequisites for pursuing the second term of the honors option include: an “A” in the first term, a GPA in all concluded anthropology classes of a minimum of 3.5, and written permission by the advisor. In the second semester, the student will conduct the proposed research project and report her/his findings (the report will ordinarily be a written paper, but can be supplemented by presentations in other media – an exhibition, a film, etc.). At the end of the term, this work must be presented to a committee of at least three faculty members who will together determine the grade. The grade “A” for the work in the second term will be recognized on the students’ official transcript as “Graduating with Honors in Anthropology“.

NOTE: Students DO NOT need to be in the Honors College to pursue Departmental Honors in Anthropology.

Bachelors Minor in Anthropology

The undergraduate Minor in General Anthropology requires 12 credit-hours made of choices from two blocks of courses.  From Block I, students are required to choose two courses (6 hours) from foundational, sub-disciplinary courses: ANT 201; ANT 322; ANT 331; and ANT 371.  From Block II, students are required to choose any two ANT courses (6 hours) from either the 300 or 400 level that are not listed in Block I.  General Anthropology is intended to provide flexibility to explore introductions to four major sub-disciplines of the field and freely sample related upper-level courses in a way that accommodates students with diverse majors ranging from pre-medicine, pre-law, geography, art history, computer science, engineering, business, environmental sciences, to social work.

Block I. Required Courses (6 hrs.)

Choose two of the following Foundational Sub-disciplinary Courses.

  • ANT 201 Cultural Anthropology – Introduction to scientific study of culture with emphasis on cultures of small-scale societies.
  • ANT 322 Archaeology – Introduction to the methods and theory of archaeology.
  • ANT 331 Physical Anthropology – The study of human physical evolution, from the earliest hominins to the present day, based on the study of primatology, human genetics, and the paleontological record.
  • ANT 371 Linguistic Anthropology – Introduction to the theories and methodologies of linguistic anthropology and to language as a cultural phenomenon and form of diversity

Block II. Elective Courses (6 hrs.)

Choose two ANT courses from either the 300 or 400 level that are not listed in Block I.  Students should seek advice from the program and plan for Block II courses that build on choices made in Block I.

Regents Bachelors of Arts Degree – Anthropology Area of Emphasis

The Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree Program is a non-traditional program designed for the adult student. If you need a college degree to advance your career, if you have an associate’s degree and would like to build on that foundation, or if you are seeking intellectual growth or personal achievement, this may be the program for you. If you have earned college credit in the past, but your work or other responsibilities have prevented you from completing your degree, consider a RBA with an Anthropology Area of Emphasis of 18 credits (6 classes):

  • ANT 201 (Cultural Anthropology)
  • ANT 332 (Archaeology)
  • ANT 361 (Ethnographic Methods) or ANT 491 (Theory in Ethnology)
  • 9 additional hours at the 300-400 level.


Masters Degree Programs

Graduate Minor in Anthropology

A minor in anthropology is earned by taking at least 6 credit hours in courses at the 500- or 600- level in Anthropology as approved by the student’s advisor and the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.


Working with an Anthropology Degree – Careers in Anthropology

According to the American Anthropological Association and the Society for American Archaeology, demand for college graduates with degrees in anthropology is high. In fact, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked anthropology and archaeology (a subfield of anthropology) as numbers five and six, respectively, on their list of Best Science Jobs.

Anthropologists often can be found in academic careers where they teach and conduct research in programs as varied as public health, ethnic and cultural studies, education and ecology. Our graduates also find rewarding corporate and business careers, where they are sought by some of the world’s most innovative technology companies for their ability to see the “big picture.”

Jobs in local, state and federal government may entail research by archaeologists that assess cultural resources affected by publicly funded projects, forensic anthropologists who consult for law enforcement agencies and medical anthropologists who work for the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization.

Finally, anthropologists contribute to community-based and non-profit organizations that provide essential services in areas such as education, historic preservation, tourism, community development, public health and natural resources.

The types of jobs held by graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology include:

  • Organizational development specialist
  • Community development worker
  • International and humanitarian aid worker
  • Diversity officer
  • Social media specialist
  • Social and market researcher
  • Media planner
  • Foreign service officer
  • Public health specialist
  • Museum/gallery curator
  • Park heritage interpreter
  • Social and cultural impact assessor
  • Cultural resource management worker

Read, watch, and listen to more about what you could do with a degree in anthropology by following this link. See two recent Marshall Anthropology Alumni reflect on their experiences in the program and its value to them as they begin their careers.  For students seeking information on graduate programs in anthropology, check out the eAnthroGuide Institution Search from the American Anthropological Association.

Check out some stories and learn more about the life-altering work of anthropologists.  

Here are sites that aggregate some of the latest news in Anthropology and related fields:

The New York Times – Anthropological news articles in the New York Times.

Science Daily – A collection of the latest scientific news articles in Anthropology, health, the environment, and technology.

Alltop: Anthropology – A collection of Anthropological news and blog posts.

Anthropology News – An Anthropology news website maintained by the AAA.

Google News Anthropology – A running listing of links to news articles about Anthropology around the world.

Get connected and find out more at the MU Anthropology Program on LinkedIn.



Quick Links

News & Views

Anthropology Links

RSS Anthropology News

  • Scientists identify gene family key to unlocking vertebrate evolution 16 September 2020
    New research finds that the traits that make vertebrates distinct from invertebrates were made possible by the emergence of a new set of genes 500 million years ago, documenting an important episode in evolution where new genes played a significant role in the evolution of novel traits in vertebrates.
  • World's largest DNA sequencing of Viking skeletons reveals they weren't all Scandinavian 16 September 2020
    Invaders, pirates, warriors - the history books taught us that Vikings were brutal predators who travelled by sea from Scandinavia to pillage and raid their way across Europe and beyond. Now cutting-edge DNA sequencing of more than 400 Viking skeletons from archaeological sites scattered across Europe and Greenland will rewrite the history books.
  • Historical climate fluctuations in Central Europe overestimated due to tree ring analysis 10 September 2020
    Tree rings exaggerate, a team of researchers finds. Scientists deduce historical climatic conditions for the past hundreds of years from the width of the annual growth rings of trees. Previous temperature reconstructions from the annual tree rings are however to some extent inaccurate, according to a new study. Tree rings overstate the natural climatic variations […]
  • Thousands of species recorded in a speck of soil 10 September 2020
    Researchers have developed a new technique to tease ancient DNA from soil, pulling the genomes of hundreds of animals and thousands of plants -- many of them long extinct -- from less than a gram of sediment.
  • An evolutionary roll of the dice explains why we're not perfect 9 September 2020
    Scientists have found that chance events can be more important than natural selection in defining the genome of species like humans and other mammals.
  • New fossil ape discovered in India 9 September 2020
    A 13-million-year-old fossil unearthed in northern India comes from a newly discovered ape, the earliest known ancestor of the modern-day gibbon. The discovery fills a major void in the ape fossil record and provides important new evidence about when the ancestors of today's gibbon migrated to Asia from Africa.

RSS AAA News Feed

  • Contemplating the Urine-Industrial Complex
    Urine matters at the opioid treatment clinic. It matters not just to the patients and the clinicians, but also to a multimillion dollar urinalysis industry that is inexorably entangled with the biomedical complex and the carceral justice system.
  • Breaking Down Silos in Anthropology
    How can anthropologists effectively collaborate across academic and government, business, and nonprofit sectors to communicate to the world what we do and get our repository of knowledge into the popular sphere?
  • Clinical Decision Making in Rural China
    Why do so many patients choose the arduous hemodialysis treatment instead of kidney transplant? What do their clinical choices reveal about family life and the socioeconomic marginalization of migrant workers in China today?
  • When Brazil’s Voters Became Followers
    Politics on social media may be exciting and even fun. But is it good for democracy?
  • Getting Out the Vote in South Asian Chicago
    Language access provisions to expand language minority voters’ access to the polls are not only about political participation. They also reveal the reproduction of white public space and white supremacy in US electoral practices.
  • Ten Things about Black Women Suffragists through a Black Feminist Lens
    Irma McClaurin is a black feminist anthropologist and consultant who conducts research on the social construction of inequality and its impact on African diaspora communities through an intersectional lens.
  • Talking about Elections in Northern Kenya
    An anthropologist recalls a conversation with three older women as they reflected on their experiences of electoral politics past and present.
  • Taking Stock with ASAP Leadership
    This is a time that begs for our attention as we think about public policy, the state, life as a citizen and scholar, and the salience of our communities.
  • The Pendleton Incident in Boise’s New Eagle Rock Park
    How the gifting of a Pendleton to Boise's mayor was a deliberate act of re-claiming Native presence and a sign of a growing partnership between the City of Boise and Boise Valley People.
  • Cryptocurrency Usage in Turkey
    Miners, Bitcoin traders, blockchain-based project startups, financial journalists, amateur investors, financiers, and other actors all contribute to an emerging industry of cryptocurrencies.

Contact Us

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Smith Hall 727
One John Marshall Drive
Huntington, WV 25755-2678
Tel: (304)-696-6700

Jami Smith, Department Administrative Assistant