Why Anthropology

Anthropology is a broad discipline that reveals information about the past and present through the study of people and primates. Anthropologists explore the social, cultural and biological diversity of human and nonhuman communities, and discover material remains of the past through excavations.

By studying anthropology at NIU, you'll develop communication, critical thinking, research and collaboration skills. You'll be mentored and guided toward internship opportunities by alumni who now work in various employment sectors. When you graduate, your understanding of the multicultural world and global economy will make you stand out to employers.

Careers in Anthropology

An anthropology degree prepares you for a career in many settings. Our alumni find success in roles such as college professor, librarian, museum director and urban/regional planner, as well as in all levels of government and international organizations.

Anthropologists often have active roles in helping address current social and cultural problems. By collaborating with community, business and government organizations, they work toward developing solutions to issues such as climate change, poverty and racism.

To learn more about anthropology careers, visit the American Anthropology Association's career center.

Which Anthropology Course Should I Take?

Anthropology courses focus on a wide range of topics and perspectives. Find the course that best matches your interests and goals. The asterisked (*) courses satisfy general education requirements and have not prerequisites.

Social Justice and Diversity

If you're interested in important social issues like food insecurity and inequality, consider taking one of these courses. You'll experience how anthropology enables you to explore some of the most important social and cultural issues of our time.

  • ANTH 104: Anthropology of Pop Culture: Making the Familiar Strange*
  • ANTH 120: Human Diversity: Introduction to Anthropology*
  • ANTH 220: Being Human: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology*
  • ANTH 250: Dismantling Global Racism

Ancient Objects

Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology. Archaeologists recover information about peoples’ lives by studying the objects they left behind and considering where they were found and what else was found with them. By interpreting ancient remains using theories and models of human behavior, archaeologists uncover past human lifeways and their connections to the world around them. 

To learn more about archaeology, you can take:

  • ANTH 102: Rise of Civilization*
  • ANTH 105: ArchaeologyMyths and Mysteries*
  • ANTH 210: Exploring Archaeology*

Language and Communication

Are you interested in words and the complexities of communication? The following courses will help you learn more about how language works, both as a cognitive activity and as a fundamental tool for human socio-cultural life in communities:

  • ANTH 230: Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology*
  • ANTH 331 Language and Culture

Evolution and Primatology

If you want to learn more about the fascinating similarities between humans, chimpanzee and other primates, consider taking one of these courses that allow you to explore our extensive collection of primate bones and fossils:

  • ANTH 103: The Great Apes*
  • ANTH 240: Becoming Human*


Objects tell stories about human history and culture. Whatever area of anthropology you're interested in, you'll benefit from access to the diverse collections of the Pick Museum of Anthropology. It serves as a teaching museum for the university, providing engaged learning opportunities such as collections research and exhibit curation, and enriches curriculums with object-based learning.

The museum's special exhibitions promote cultural awareness and solidarity in support of global social justice. Programs and events allow campus and community audiences to explore human and cultural diversity with the museum. In addition, the museum director teaches ANTH 462, a collections management course.






Contact Us

Department of Anthropology
Stevens Building Rm 190