Anthropology at VCU

Two men dig at an archaeological site.

About Anthropology at VCU

The VCU Anthropology program champions a holistic, and comparative approach to the study of humanity in the broadest sense. We are committed to the scientific understanding of our common humanity as well as the informed appreciation of our cultural and historical diversity. Our faculty and students pursue research both abroad and in the United States. Click here to meet the Anthropology faculty


Fall 2018 Anthropology Speaker Series

Every Fall we invite anthropologists and scholars from throughout the United States to participate in our speaker series. All lectures take place in the Commons Theater of VCU's Student Commons. This year we are proud to host:

"American Halloween Origins with World Death and Burial Customs"
October 31, 3 p.m.
Kelsey O'Neill, M.Sc.

“Human Anatomy from a Bioanthropological Perspective"
November 14, 3 p.m.
Richard J. Harrington, Ph.D., M.Sc.

"Eruptive Culture: Natural Disaster and Human Responses"
November 28, 3 p.m.
Maria L. Carrillo, M.A.


Academic Paths

Anthropology is divided into four “subdisciplines” all of which use methods and knowledge derived from both the humanities and natural sciences: socio-cultural anthropology, the study of contemporary societies; archaeology, the study of material remains related to human behavior; anthropological linguistics, the study of language in its social context as it relates to structuring thought and perception; and biological anthropology, the study of human biological origins.

The  VCU Bulletin lists all our anthropology courses as well as an Anthropology plan of study. For more guidance, the VCU Anthropology major map helps you plan your undergraduate and professional paths. 

In socio-cultural anthropology, our greatest expertise lies in the study of indigenous peoples from Africa and the Americas using a globally comparative perspective. Our approach to archeology integrates theory with field methods and analysis.

Our linguistic anthropology coursework emphasizes cultural translation and sociolinguistics to explore how language impacts human cognition. Meanwhile, in biological anthropology, we focus on the teaching of human evolution along with specialized courses such as bioanthropological anatomy, human osteology, medical anthropology, evolutionary medicine, and forensics.

Please see one of our academic advisers for guidance.


Professional Paths

Students of anthropology gain many skills relevant in today’s increasingly globalized economy in which cross cultural exchange is becoming more and more common in the workplace. As a result, the cultural fluency and communication skills gained by our majors are vital to professional success in a variety of fields.

Anthropology majors are especially well suited to working in cultural resource management both in the private and public sector. Archeologists are routinely consulted in publicly funded transportation and construction projects as required by laws like Section 106.

Educational and cultural institutions such as museums and academia rely on anthropologists to enrich our understanding of human expressions across time and place.

That same cultural competence is highly valued by multinational corporations which must understand both their diverse employees and customers. Anthropology majors gain excellent research skills which are extremely useful in conducting market research, particularly for technological products.

Our graduates’ verbal and written communication skills are valuable not only in marketing but various business or group work environments. The ability to synthesize data into cohesive narratives that translate across cultures is vital in any industry and can not be automated. These skills are especially suited to positions in human resource management.

Visit the American Anthropological Association to learn more about careers in anthropology.


Postgrad Success

Since 2012, our majors have been accepted into graduate programs at: Johns Hopkins; NYU; Rutger, Brandeis; University of Illinois at Chicago; Texas A&M; Florida State University; Georgetown; George Mason; George Washington; the College of William & Mary; Oxford; University College London; University of Kent; Boston University School of Medicine; Duke University’s School of Nursing; as well as VCU’s School of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health programs.

In just the last six years, nineteen of our students have landed archaeology positions with cultural resource management firms.