A lot of people take a class or two in anthropology, and think about majoring in it, but inevitably ask, "What can I do with a degree in anthropology?"
This is an important question, but not one that should worry you that much. What can you do with a degree in ANY major? At UC Irvine, you can get a broad, liberal arts education that will prepare you for any number of careers or professional trajectories no matter what you major in.
That said, anthropology is pretty unique among the kinds of disciplines you might major in while in college. For one thing, it is not a "typical" major - few people choose it compared to other majors (although at UC Irvine and nationally it is becoming more popular). Typically, an undergraduate has to make a conscious decision to pursue anthropology as a major; it doesn't just fall into your lap because you take a course here and there and realize you've fulfilled the requirements. It also demands a certain creativity and drive - after all, it's not every day you run into an anthropologist.
We are looking for students with the spark of critical inquiry and the passion for intellectual challenges who are not content to follow the rest of the crowd or to take the world around us at face value. Anthropology challenges you to question your assumptions, and to interrogate your own deeply held beliefs as you come to appreciate those of other peoples and other cultures.
But, if it's jobs and careers you're worried about, ask yourself the following question: How many anthropology majors is a human resources officer at a corporation or a graduate admissions committee at a university likely to see when they sift through the hundreds of resumes and applications in front of them? Not too many. An anthropology degree stands out in the crowd. Now ask yourself this question: What kind of knowledge and experience do business people, policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies need in the world today, given the increased scale and speed of cross-cultural and transnational interconnections, ethnic and religious differences, rapid and large-scale political and economic change, etc.? Perhaps the knowledge and experience that come from a broad training that spans the social sciences and humanities, that has an important international and cultural component, that involves an appreciation of cultural difference and diversity?
If you are still not convinced, or maybe just a little nervous, we have assembled a list of useful sources on what the anthropology degree can get you after you graduate. Or, at the very least, to spark your imagination and get you dreaming anthropological dreams. Happy surfing!