Anthropology studies what it means to be human, and how humans make meaning. Anthropologists look at people from all angles: how they come to be, what they create, and how they give significance to their lives. At the center of the discipline are questions of physical evolution and adaptability, material evidence for past life ways, similarities and differences among past and present peoples, and the political and ethical dilemmas of studying cultures. Anthropology is a rich and integrative discipline that prepares students to live and work effectively in a diverse and increasingly interconnected world. The Anthropology Undergraduate Program incorporates three subfields of anthropology: anthropological archaeology, cultural anthropology, and biological anthropology. Students take courses in all three subfields in order to develop a multifaceted perspective on being human.
Study and Research Opportunities
- B.A. program in Anthropology with courses in archaeology, cultural anthropology, and biological anthropology
- Undergraduate minor in Anthropology
- Combined B.A. degree in Earth Sciences/Anthropology
- Ph.D. program in Anthropology with concentrations in archaeology or cultural anthropology
- Independent study courses available for students interested in labwork, internships, and independent research
Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)
High school students who plan to major in Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz need no special background other than the courses necessary for UC admission.
Information for Transfers
Transfer students are encouraged to complete courses equivalent to lower division Anthropology 1, 2, and 3 before coming to UC Santa Cruz:
- Anthropology 1, Introduction to Biological Anthropology
- Anthropology 2, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
- Anthropology 3, Introduction to Archaeology
Transfer course agreements and articulation between the University of California and California Community Colleges can be accessed on the ASSIST.ORG web site. Students may petition for lower division courses not included in articulated transfer course agreements.
The Anthropology Department also allows students to petition up to two upper-division Anthropology courses from another four-year university (including universities abroad) to count towards the major requirements.
Anthropology is an excellent major for students considering careers that involve communication, writing, critical analysis of information, and high levels of cultural interaction. Anthropology graduates pursue careers in fields such as: advertising, city planning, education/teaching, forensics, journalism, marketing, medicine/health care, politics, public health, social work, museums, writing, systems analysis, environmental consulting, community development, and law. Students interested in research and teaching in anthropology usually continue on to graduate school as professional employment in the field typically requires an advanced degree.
Anthropology is a very international discipline; the classes and coursework in this department draw upon studies of many different places and peoples. Most anthropologists work in foreign countries and all engage with scholarship from around the world. Anthropology students are strongly encouraged to make study abroad part of their education, and the department is currently developing a plan of study to enable students to conduct independent research abroad with which to write a senior thesis.
The Archaeology and Biological Anthropology Laboratories are dedicated to teaching and research in both anthropological archaeology and biological anthropology. Within the labs are spaces for the study of ceramics, lithics, spatial archaeology (GIS), zooarchaeology, comparative anatomy and osteology, and forensic anthropology. The laboratories maintain collections related to local Monterey Bay archaeology, as well as comparative vertebrate osteology and taphonomic specimens.
Awards, Honors, and Recognitions
Professor Alison Galloway - T. Dale Stewart Award for Career Achievement from the Physical Anthropology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists; named one of Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence.
Professor Judith Habicht-Mauche - Society for American Archaeology Award for Excellence in Archaeological Analysis
Professor Anna Tsing - Guggenheim Fellowship; the first social scientist ever to win a Niels Bohr Honorary Professorship from the Danish National Research Foundation
Jamais Cascio, (B.A., Anthropology and History, '88) is a writer, leader, visionary, and research fellow at the Institute for the Future. The journal Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 global thinkers and a "moral guide to the future."
Lauren Zephro (B.A., Anthropology, '92; Ph.D., Anthropology, ’06), is a forensic anthropologist with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
General Catalog Information
Anthropology Department Office
361 Social Sciences 1
Social Sciences 1 Faculty Services
UC Santa Cruz
1156 High St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064