I has a Anthropology degree

My roommate from college, who will be in my wedding in a few weeks, visited my home in Muncie this past weekend. I was showing him my office and he spotted my degree from Miami University on the wall.

“I can’t believe you actually are using your degree in Anthropology,” Matt said.

I never really thought about it, but I am. I go places and I hang out with people and learn about their way of life. But still, I’m no anthropologist. I don’t know a bonobo from a lemur. I know zilch about Egypt. In fact, most of the things I learnt, I probably forgot.

During my senior year capstone class we discussed the broader issues surrounding anthro (that’s what the cool kids – not the dudes wearing the Indiana Jones hats – call it). One of the biggest debates with all social sciences is if any actual science is taking place. An anthropologist often must be in the presence of the people he is studying, and his presence likely influences their behavior, thus corrupting the data. The post-modern school of thought acknowledges this and says that when an anthropologist goes into the field they bring back stories not data. The stories can’t be quantified, but can be appreciated for what they are – glimpses of a people at a particular moment. If there is any anthropology occurring in my work, this is it.

But what do other anthropology majors do with their degree?

When I first graduated from college, after a bit of travel, I got a job as a dive instructor. The manager of the dive shop also had a degree in anthropology. So, what have we learned? A degree in anthropology puts you on the fast track to being a SCUBA instructor or travel bum or both. In fact, I once bumped into a former high school classmate working at Wal-Mart who said, “I hear you are a beach bum.”

I was nice and didn’t point out the fact that he was selling shotguns in Wal-Mart, but I could have said, “What else would you expect me to do, I majored in Anthropology!”

All-in-all, I’m happy with my choice to study anthropology in college and even happier to think, “Hey, I am using that there degree on the wall.”

What are you doing with your degree? Where’s your diploma?

Add a comment
Phalline says:


Not only you who do sth different from your degree. and you know I graduated from Archaeology and now I work for a travel business :-)but I’m happy that I have studied the Archaeology.

Kelsey says:

Anthropologists unite!

Amy says:

My liberal arts degree was called “Cultural Studies,” a mix of anthro and sociology. I write EFL (English as foreign language) curriculum in Taiwan. Am I “using” my degree?

As someone with an interest in the social sciences, I’d be curious to see the statistics on how many college grads (say, 5 or 10 years later) are doing something related to their bachelor’s degrees. What would you guess? 50%?

Kelsey says:

Amy, I would say you are using your degree.

I think that I’m a little more culturally open-minded than I would be if I had studied something else. However, like your job with EFL, I’ve never received a paycheck or a job because I had a degree in anthropology.

Back in the day, before there was a “Business Major,” students who wanted a future in business studied anthropology.

The roommate I mentioned in the post studied Political Science. Now he works as a computer tech for an insurance company.

Matt says:

See, Kels, if you mention me on your site, I’m much more prone to actually visit. Remember that.

Kelsey says:

Maybe, I’ll dedicate an entire blog to you. I’ll name it “My college roommate Matt” and it will be all about memories of you. I could stalk you and put a wireless camera in your Chihuahua’s collar.

Whatch ya think?

Let your voice be heard!