Prospective Students | UMSL

Common Searches

Anthropologists take a broad approach to understanding the diversity of human biology, culture, and language in the past and present. We teach students how to see their culture and the cultures of others more clearly, and how to work with the underlying humanity that unifies us all. 

Student Experience

Students may work closely with faculty in designing their personal course of study and carrying out their own research projects in any of the above fields of study. Students have presented research results at professional meetings, in published papers, and at government and community agencies for use in planning and development. Students are encouraged to participate in the program's network of internships, providing an opportunity to practice newly acquired skills. As a capstone experience, all students, under faculty supervision, complete a significant independent research project, culminating in written and oral reports to the department students and faculty. The program encourages study abroad and has scholarship funds to assist. There is an active Association of Student Anthropologists that sponsors speakers and social activities.

Paid undergraduate positions are available on a competitive basis to anthropology majors as teaching assistants and faculty research assistants.

What Anthropologists Do

Anthropologists draw and build up knowledge from the social, biological, and physical sciences as well as the humanities.  They are typically trained in one of four subfields:  archaeology, biological/physical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology.  Anthropologists consider the past to see how human groups lived hundreds or thousands of years ago.  They research what makes up our biological bodies, genetics, diet and health.  They want to know what people think is important, try to understand how people interact in social relationships, and look at the many ways people dress, organize their settlements, get their food, and communicate in different cultures.   

Anthropologist teach how cultures evolve and the role of individuals and groups in the invention and perpetuation of cultural beliefs, behaviors, symbols, and systems. They have accumulated in-depth knowledge of hundreds of cultures and use this knowledge to understand better our own cultural beliefs, actions, and institutions, as well as those of people from other cultures. As the science of cultures, anthropology brings a powerful perspective to the understanding of the emerging global order and offers solutions to current human problems.  Cross-cultural and evolutionary insights and knowledge help us envision how we can incorporate vast human diversity into a unified world order of peace, prosperity, justice, and opportunity.