[For additional information on Anthropology at UC Merced, please visit the Anthropology Website]

OverviewAnthropology findings

Anthropology is dedicated to understanding humankind’s diversity, as well as what makes us uniquely human. Through the specific perspectives and methods of socio-cultural, archaeological, and biological anthropology, students learn how the human experience (past and present) is constituted through the interaction of social, cultural, political, material, historical, environmental, and biological factors. Anthropology strives for a holistic understanding of humankind and, depending on the questions asked and the means used to discover answers, anthropological knowledge can straddle the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.

The undergraduate major in Anthropology emphasizes how topics and issues central to the human experience such as migration, gender, power, health, kinship, race, and identity are examined and understood through diverse anthropological methodologies. In upper division courses, students explore particular socio-cultural, archaeological, and biological perspectives on such issues in greater depth, and these courses may specifically engage perspectives from two or more sub fields. Other courses may consider a range of topics within a specific geographical area, while acknowledging certain limitations to the area studies configuration of knowledge.

Undergraduate majors in Anthropology develop critical skills in thought, written and oral expression, and the application of knowledge, as well as a valuable understanding of human cultural diversity. In an increasingly globalized world in which interaction with people of diverse cultures is becoming the norm, developing a cross cultural understanding about the complexities of human societies past and present is what makes Anthropology an ideal education for the 21st century. A bachelor’s degree in Anthropology is valuable preparation for a career in law, medicine, education, business, government, museums, and various areas of non profit, public, and international service, including public policy and cultural resource management.

The Anthropology program also provides a strong foundation for graduate study in any sub field of anthropology. By offering undergraduate majors opportunities to work with faculty research and apply knowledge and skills to local communities, agencies, and business through service learning and internships, students are further prepared for advanced study and successful careers.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation, students who major and minor in Anthropology will:

  1. Possess and apply fundamental anthropological knowledge, including terminology, concepts, intellectual traditions, and theoretical approaches;
  2. Identify and analyze common topics of research shared by the sub-fields of anthropology;
  3. Understand ethics and responsibility in the practice of anthropology and in our roles as citizens;
  4. Recognize and appreciate what it means to be human and how ethnographic, archaeological, and biological knowledge contribute to that understanding;
  5. Understand both qualitative and quantitative research methods as they apply to anthropological inquiry;
  6. Possess skills to communicate anthropological knowledge effectively through writing, oral presentation, and data presentation in various formats for diverse audiences.

Academic Success

Each year, our program assesses the classroom learning experiences of students to ensure that students are building the necessary skills and knowledge-base in this discipline. The assessments allow our program to engage in continued creative and visionary curriculum and instruction approaches that ensure students are exposed to rigorous undergraduate training. Every discipline has a unique assessment schema and set of student performance benchmarks, reflecting the priorities of the discipline.

In the spring semester of 2011, we piloted an e-survey with graduating seniors who were majoring in Anthropology (the e-survey was designed and administrated with the support of the Institutional Planning and Analysis office at UC Merced). Students were asked questions pertaining to all of the six Anthropology PLOs (listed above).

  • 4 out of 5 of the graduating seniors who majored in Anthropology completed the survey.
  • No student reported “Not Confident” for any survey prompt.
  • 75% to 100% reported “Confident” or “ Very Confident” for PLOs 1 and 3.
  • 50% of students reported “Confident” or “ Very Confident” for PLOs 2, 5, and 6.

The conclusions that we draw inform our learning support strategies and assessment protocols. First, we see that students need more learning support in the classrooms to feel confident and proficient in PLO 4, in particular. Second, the survey questions seem to work well and will be administered to students on a larger scale in 2012 in addition to collecting direct evidence of program outcomes.

Alumni Success

Student graduates from our program are currently engaging in graduate studies and careers. A few of these after-college endeavors are listed below.

Graduate School

Student graduates from the Anthropology program are studying at the University of California Merced focusing on world cultures and at the University of Southampton in the UK focusing on archaeological computing.


Student graduates from the Anthropology program are working in a variety of professional settings including National Parks, a venture capital company, and in research capacities at universities.