Undergraduate Anthropology Program
Careers in Anthropology
A major in anthropology provides an excellent liberal arts education, serving as a solid academic foundation from which to choose a career. Competency developed in the areas of research methods, foreign languages, statistics, computer technology, and written and verbal skills, coupled with anthropological course work, enables an anthropology major graduate to gain employment in a wide variety of professions, including contract archaeology, teaching, international relations, community planning, government (federal, state, and local), museums and other similar institutions, and social work. It also prepares you for graduate school, not only in anthropology, but also in library studies, law school, and medical school. While a major in anthropology can prepare you for a specific job, it also allows for flexibility in the job market that many other majors cannot match. The Anthropology Department advisors conduct a fall semester workshop specifically on "Careers for Anthropology Graduates;" announcements for this workshop are posted and mailed to our undergraduate students.
The Federal government employs people in a wide variety of occupations that require college degrees with a liberal arts focus. The American Anthropological Association is a good source for finding out more about job opportunities, internships, and other anthropology career-related information. For more information on private sector employment, specifically with contract archaeology firms and environmental assessment companies, you should make an appointment to speak with the State Archaeologist, Kary Stackelbeck, at the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey on campus.
Advanced Degrees in Anthropology
The Anthropology Department also offers advanced degrees for qualified students. For more information on applying to graduate school at the University of Oklahoma and the requirements for either a M.A. or Ph.D. degrees here, please see the Graduate Liaison in the department, check out our webpage, or contact the Graduate College. For more information on applying to graduate school, students should talk with faculty members, particularly with those in the student's subarea of interest (archaeology, linguistic anthropology, etc.).
Bite-Sized Advice for Anthropology Majors
A field school is not strictly required but is a significant part of archaeological training. Getting additional lab work experience outside of class is also helpful. In fact this is almost mandatory to get into a competitive graduate school.
Talk to your professors! They see many opportunities in jobs and experiences that come across their emails every week, and they can help connect you. Also, it’s the best way to get a feel for what the subfield is all about. Talking to grad students is good, too.
Focus on your subfield, but try not to be myopic. Learning across anthropology, and further afield, will make you a more creative thinker and a better archaeologist.
Different fields of biological anthropology benefit from different methods: human skeletal biology, molecular anthropology, forensics all need different training. Talk to faculty about the best way to get the training through classes and hands-on work.
Talk to your academic advisor about whether the BA or BS makes the most sense for you.
Here in Oklahoma, we have many unique opportunities to learn more about languages that many people only hear about in the movies. You might fulfill your language requirements with one of the four Indigenous Oklahoma languages offered at OU: Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, or Kiowa. You might also attend or volunteer at the annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair held at the Sam Noble Museum each spring. You could even volunteer to help process materials in the museum’s Native American Languages collection by contacting the collection manager.
Beyond OU’s walls, many Oklahoma nations have active language programs that include online courses. You might enroll in one of these to learn more about languages with structural features that are vastly different from languages you may have been exposed to. You could also visit cultural heritage centers to learn about how language and culture interact in a more hands-on way. If you’re a member of a tribe with a language revitalization and reclamation program you might use the tools and training you gain at OU to help expand language reclamation activities for your own heritage language.
The BS in Anthropology: Human Health and Biology is a great choice for those who intend to go into medicine or other careers in the health sciences and want a strong grounding in human diversity, both cultural and biological. Such a background will help prepare students for the clinical challenges they will face in an increasingly diverse world. Other students may be interested in health and human diversity but do not need the number of science courses required by the BS. All of the same medical anthropology courses are available to these students with the BA option. Talk to your academic advisor about whether the BA or BS makes the most sense for you.
There is a small section of Global Cultural Diversity (ANTH 2203) offered regularly which is recommended for those with a sociocultural focus.
Some sociocultural students may be interested in the 3+2 program where students graduate in 5 years with a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Anthropology with a Concentration in Socio-Cultural Anthropology. Applications are due at the end of fall in the junior year. Interested students should talk to Socio-Cultural faculty or the Anthropology academic advisor about their interest.
A specific job field or industry in mind for after graduation
Seek out people who work in that field to talk to. Most are happy to talk to students and you can learn what kind of training is needed, what life is like in that career, and how best to get started.
Talk to faculty about career paths. There are different jobs available at the BA, MA, and PhD level.
Talk to faculty, graduate students, and people in the field you are interested in pursuing as they can provide guidance about opportunities and paths to obtain your goals.
The Linguistics Society of America’s website has great information about possible public and private sector jobs for someone with a degree in linguistics or linguistic anthropology. https://www.linguisticsociety.org/resource/linguistics-profession
Talk to faculty in your area about your interest and what graduate schools make sense to consider. As the time to apply approaches, pay attention to the application deadlines. Most graduate school applications are due around December and January before the fall when you intend to start, but you need to look at the programs you intend to apply to. Also, investigate whether the programs require an entry test. Many graduate schools traditionally require the GRE, but some have relaxed that recently. Some fields have additional subject tests.
Register with OU Pre-Law advising. Application deadlines can vary widely, but most are due soon after winter break the year before you intend to start. LSATS are usually required by then as well, but many sources advise students to take the LSAT in the summer before you intend to apply.
Medical School/Professional Health School
Register with the Pre-Med or Pre-Health advisors. Learn about the application process and deadlines in your area. For medical school, the application process starts two years before you intend to start (Junior year for many) when you register for MCAT in the fall and do interviews in the spring. The Pre-Med advisors are the best source for information about this process. For those starting the application in their junior year, we recommend you take Cornerstone III then.
For those who are interested in volunteer opportunities after graduation, the OU Peace Corps Prep Program (https://www.ou.edu/cis/sponsored_programs/peace-corps-prep) through the College of International Studies might be of interest. Those who would like to stay closer to home, and who are interested in teaching, might explore the Teach for America program (https://www.teachforamerica.org/). If this is a path you’re interested in, you might also be interested in the TEACH grant program, which provides funding for future teachers who commit to teaching in Title I schools after graduation.