About Anthropology as a Discipline

Anthropology is the science that studies the human species, its relatives and antecedents. Anthropology is a diverse discipline that combines the social sciences, biological sciences, earth sciences, humanities, and the health sciences. Often conceived of as a set of sub-disciplines: cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, physical anthropology, and archaeology, it is necessarily interdisciplinary. Consequently, anthropology students are sometimes encouraged to take courses outside the major that relate to the particular area of anthropology that they are emphasizing. For example, biological anthropology students may take biology courses, while linguistic anthropology students may take courses in the Linguistics Department.

As a result of our field’s interdisciplinary interests, many anthropology undergraduate students may double major, or combine the anthropology major with a minor in a complementary discipline. Anthropology graduate students use their degrees for a variety of purposes, from university teaching and research, to research and action in local, regional, and global community contexts. Students in the past have found it to be a useful preparatory degree for a variety of professions that benefit from a multi- and interdisciplinary study of the human condition (for example, business, law, medicine, education, and others).

Anthropology at CSULB

  • Anthropology courses were first taught at California State University Long Beach in 1952.
  • The Department of Anthropology was established circa 1960 (Prior to this time it was part of the Division of Social Sciences).
  • The Bachelor of Arts degree was established in 1959, the Masters of Arts in 1968, the anthropology Minor in 1973, and the Master of Arts Option in Applied Anthropology in 1990.
  • We offer a BA in Anthropology with a four-fields focus.
  • Every student is introduced to Cultural Anthropology, Archaeology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Physical Anthropology both at the lower division and upper division levels. Students take 18 electives to complete their BA degree. They can take a variety of electives of interest to them, or they can focus their electives on more narrow areas of interest depending on the availability of courses offered by the department. See “Undergraduate Programs” for more information.
  • We offer two MAs:
    1. An Option in Applied Anthropology
    2. A general MA in Anthropology
  • All MA students take a set of core courses. Students in our Applied Option follow a prescribed program, focusing their work on applied interests. General MA students take electives based on availability of courses offered by the department. See “Graduate Programs” for more information.

Program Learning Objectives  – Undergraduate 


  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the history of anthropological theories and their current application across the sub-disciplines: Archaeology, Physical/Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology and Linguistic
  2. Comprehend the origins and significance of human biological, linguistic and cultural diversity in contemporary and past societies and


  1. Apply anthropological concepts, ethics and methods, both qualitative and quantitative, to the description and analysis of anthropological data.
  2. Apply anthropological theories and methods to analyze and solve problems in the workplace and the wider
  3. Demonstrate advanced analytical skills, including the ability to formulate anthropological questions, determine bias, express original arguments, and evaluate and interpret various types of data.

Values and Practices

  1. Articulate the importance of sustaining cultural, biological, linguistic and environmental diversity in local communities within a global
  2. Demonstrate the discipline’s ethical commitment to respecting and supporting the equal rights of all persons, their identities and social


Program Learning Objectives  – Graduate 

  1. Describe, compare and contrast major historical and contemporary theories in anthropology
  2. Conceive of, plan and conduct an original anthropological study resulting in a thesis or project
  3. Employ relevant methods and theoretical frameworks to answer specific research questions
  4. Locate, access, synthesize and critically assess research literature
  5. Present research findings in a variety of professional formats: oral, visual and written
  6. Plan and conduct research following professional ethical guidelines