Anthropology is the comparative study of humans in all walks of life, all kinds of societies, all parts of the world, and at all points in time.

Anthropology provides insight into our biological and cultural evolutionary background and offers a holistic view of how our economic, social, political, and religious systems relate to one another. It helps us reflect on our own social systems, on the interrelationships between individuals and societies, and on the reasons for the development of thoughts and feelings that can promote connection or conflict across social and cultural groups.

Why Iowa?

BA students are encouraged (and BS students are required) to do field work or research and have many opportunities to study abroad. The research specialties of faculty span a variety of topics, numerous regions across the globe, and all four anthropology subfields. 

The department's resources include well-equipped laboratories for archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. 

The department maintains its own collections of Midwest prehistoric and historic fauna materials and has a documented human skeleton collection originally developed by Stanford University Medical School. It also has access to the Iowa Archaeological Collection through the Office of the State Archeologist, which is located on the Iowa campus. 

The university is a charter member of the Human Relations Area Files. These files and other library resources provide access to source materials on more than 400 culturally diverse societies. 

The Department of Anthropology also offers an undergraduate Certificate in Museum Studies.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Medical Anthropology
  Teaching Licensure
in Social Science
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

With a broad liberal arts background and an in-depth understanding of human relations, graduates are ready for a variety of interesting and challenging careers involving international or cross-cultural work as well as social and ethnic diversity.

The major in anthropology prepares individuals to pursue graduate study in anthropology or related fields or to earn a professional degree in law, business, or one of the health sciences.

Graduates find rewarding careers in government, international affairs, conservation, economic development, urban and regional planning, social work, museum work, and education. Many work to help resolve contemporary world problems by joining the Peace Corps, the AmeriCorps program, or an international or domestic non-governmental organization.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 Study Abroad Programs and multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

The UI Anthropology Club is open to any student interested in this subject. The club coordinates field trips and activities that foster learning and student-faculty interaction.

Field Research & Study Abroad

UI Study Abroad offers a wealth of programs featuring cross-cultural experiences that offer first-hand knowledge of the diversity and complexity of humanity that is central to the study of anthropology. See the Recommended Study Abroad Programs for Anthropology Majors.

Under the direction of anthropology faculty, students may acquire skills in data recovery and interpretive techniques during archaeological field research in Portugal, France, Namibia, Sicily, or sites in the United States.

Faculty are available to mentor student researchers in sociocultural, biological, and linguistic anthropology. In recent years, students have conducted field research in Brazil, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ghana, Iceland, India, Japan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships. 

Anthropology at Iowa

Anthropology is the study of what makes us human. Anthropologists take a broad approach to understanding the many different aspects of the human experience, which we call holism. They consider the past, through archaeology, to see how human groups lived hundreds or thousands of years ago and what was important to them.

The Anthropology major utilizes global and broad biological perspectives to prepare you for a wide range of professional careers while inspiring creative independent work.

Rebecca talk more about what it's like to study Anthropology at the University of Iowa.


The BA program provides a comprehensive overview of Anthropology’s four subfields and a cross-cultural perspective on human experience. Students are encouraged to gain hands-on experience by participating in field schools, assisting faculty with research, and taking independent study courses of interest in addition to the basic requirements for the major.

The BS program emphasizes skills in research methods, scientific reasoning, and connecting Anthropology with related fields of study. Students are required to complete courses in directed laboratory or field research; complete additional courses in quantitative, mathematical, or formal reasoning; and minor in a field related to their interests. This program is a good fit for students interested in any of Anthropology's four subfields: sociocultural anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology.

All Anthropology students have the option to choose a degree concentration from the following tracks:

  • Archaeology
  • Medical Anthropology 

All students who wish to earn a bachelor's degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must complete the GE CLAS Core requirements. 

View Anthropology in the UI General Catalog to learn more about BA and BS course requirements, earning a minor in Anthropology, and graduating with honors.