361 Social Sciences 1 Building
(831) 459- 3320

Programs Offered

Anthropology B.A.

Anthropology Minor

Anthropology Ph.D.

Anthropology Designated Emphasis

Other Programs of Interest

Earth Sciences/Anthropology B.A.

Anthropology is the study of people throughout the world and through time. Because it covers a wide range of topics—biological evolution, material remains of the past, and the world that humans create through their ideas and practices in present-day societies—anthropology is an especially integrative discipline. The anthropology program at UC Santa Cruz offers courses that reflect the diversity of the field.

  • Cultural anthropology explores the everyday lives, beliefs, activities, and movements of people, objects, and ideas in diverse societies. Cultural anthropology courses examine such topics as race and ethnicity, medicine, health, science, gender, sexuality, environment, religion, law, popular culture, politics, economics, and institutions.
  • Archaeology uses the material evidence of human activities to understand past human lives. Archaeology at UCSC focuses on past people’s interactions with one another at the local level and within their wider social and ecological contexts. Faculty research areas include the pre-colonial and early post-colonial history of Africa, Mesoamerica, the Caribbean, and western North America.
  • Biological anthropology traces the human journey from its beginnings in Africa over five million years ago. Biological anthropology courses look at fossil evidence, evolutionary theory, human variation, and the behavior of primate relatives in order to analyze biological, social, and cultural changes over time. Biological anthropology at UCSC has a methodological emphasis in innovative approaches to human and non-human primate ecology and diversity founded on our expertise in genomics, isotope biochemistry, as well as human osteology.

UCSC students have the opportunity to do independent library and field research in cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology. Laboratory courses in archaeology and biological anthropology offer practical experience in the analysis of biological and cultural materials. In cultural anthropology courses, students learn to carry out anthropological research through interviews, participant observation, surveys, the collection of oral histories, analysis of textual, visual, and aural materials, and the interpretation of archival materials.

Because anthropology is concerned with understanding human interaction, it is a useful major for anyone planning a career that involves working with people, especially those from diverse cultures. Some UCSC anthropology graduates are in social work, many are in teaching, and others pursue careers in law, city planning, politics, medicine, public health, cultural resource management, and journalism. Students intending to specialize in anthropology usually go on to graduate school because professional employment in the field almost always demands an advanced degree.

A combined major in Anthropology and Earth and Planetary Sciences, leading to a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree, is also offered; for that program description, see Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Most anthropology faculty have their offices in Social Sciences 1 Building. Social Sciences 1 also houses laboratories for archaeology and biological anthropology where space is provided for laboratory and individual studies courses and for collections of human and non-human mammalian skeletal material, a variety of archaeological artifacts, and collaborative workspaces for cultural anthropology research.

The Anthropology Colloquium series showcases guest speakers and gives faculty and students an opportunity to discuss new approaches to anthropological questions. Students and faculty interested in archaeology also gather informally at the Archaeology/Biological Anthropology Lunch forum to share information on fieldwork and employment opportunities.  There are various anthropology-themed student groups for those who wish to connect with fellow students interested in anthropology.