Back to search results


Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

Anthropology is the study of the biology, prehistory and culture of human society in a worldwide setting. Anthropologists study people from all times and all places. Anthropology focuses on human and non-human primate evolution by studying the behavior of living and extinct human and primate groups (physical anthropology). It looks at cultural history and past lifeways and studies how human societies have changed from ancient to modern times (archaeology). It also examines the behavior of living societies in order to understand differences in contemporary cultures (cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology). This includes the study of topics such as language, kinship, religion, ecology, urbanism, and culture and personality.

One of two anthropology major programs offered by the college, the anthropology major leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree and is designed to broadly prepare students in each of the three major anthropological subfields. This major provides training for a variety of career options including—but not limited to—those in the humanities and the natural, social and behavioral sciences. 

Upon admission to the university, students declare an interest in anthropology within the College of Arts and Sciences. Interested students contact the undergraduate advisor for anthropology and an advisor in Arts and Sciences Advising.

The anthropology major, leading to a BA, requires a minimum of 34 credit hours. 

  • one prerequisite course, Introduction to Physical Anthropology 
  • core courses (15 hours): World Prehistory, Peoples and Culture, History of Anthropological Theory, Fundamentals of Archaeology, and either Human Evolution or Human Variation
  • an additional course in each of the subfields of anthropology (nine hours)—archaeology, physical anthropology and cultural anthropology 
  • six additional hours taken from any subfield of anthropology

Internships are strongly encouraged in a range of settings, including museums, contract archaeology firms, and in a variety of local, state and federal agencies. 

A forensic field school is usually offered every summer on the Columbus campus. In addition, the department regularly offers an archaeological field school in either the United States or Europe. In the United States, this includes fieldwork especially in the Midwest. 

The Department of Anthropology offers Honors sections of the introductory courses that survey the basic concepts and knowledge of the three major subdivisions (Introduction to Physical Anthropology, World Prehistory, and Peoples and Cultures). Honors students may pursue graduation with distinction in anthropology by completing a senior Honors thesis. Non-Honors students may also graduate with research distinction by the completion of a senior thesis.

Undergraduates can become involved in diverse laboratory and field-based research opportunities. We are on the leading edge of undergraduate training of anthropological scientists and are poised to offer more opportunities. 

For the next several years, Ohio State has a project in Hungary that involves student participation. The National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates and the International Research Experience for Students programs fund multiple students for research in Hungary each year. 

In addition to general laboratory space for undergraduate research, students benefit from exploring the following:

  • the premier paleoethnobotany laboratory in the nation
  • a state-of-the-art bioarchaeology laboratory
  • an extensive collection of human skeletal remains
  • laboratory resources and comparative materials for forensic studies
  • archaeological field projects (via field schools or independent study) in Ohio, Hungary and Yemen
  • bioarchaeological field projects in Italy and Turkey
  • paleoanthropological field experience at fossil hominid sites in South Africa and paleoecological data analysis
  • cultural ecology and human biology field experience in the Amazon and Cameroon
  • economic anthropology with an emphasis on Mexico
  • a human biological anthropology laboratory with genetic, anthropometric and physiological equipment
  • an established research station with habituated non-human primates in the Ivory Coast (West Africa)
  • a large collection of non-human primate skeleton-dental material from West Africa

The undergraduate student organization, the Anthropology Club, offers a chance to get to know other students and to hear from faculty about research and field study opportunities. 

A variety of employment opportunities exist for a graduate with an anthropology degree, including contract or government archaeologist, admissions counselor, museum curator, mental health consultant, social service worker, laboratory assistant, foreign service agent, international business associate or forensic anthropologist. Graduates in anthropology from Ohio State have found employment in a range of careers in business, health professions, engineering, government, law, education, social services and museums.

Professor Scott McGraw
Department of Anthropology
4034 Smith Lab
174 W. 18th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210


Karen Royce, PhD
College of Arts and Sciences
275C Mendenhall Laboratory
125 S. Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210


Ohio State houses the nation’s premier paleoethnobotany laboratory and a state-of-the-art bioarchaeology laboratory.

Interested in a career in the STEM fields?

Check out the STEM Pathway to discover the many majors Ohio State offers that can lead to a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.