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Learn anthropology with online courses and programs

Languages, rituals, and environmental effects on humans are aspects of anthropology. How did humans evolve? What can we do to improve our lives? Anthropologists seek answers to these questions. Learn anthropology online with courses delivered through edX.

What is anthropology? 

Anthropology is the study of the origin and development of humans and human cultures. Anthropologists study many aspects of human life, from primitive beginnings to the development of language and creation of governing societies. Applied anthropology involves solving problems by applying the major branches, or subfields, of anthropology. There are four subfields of anthropology:Footnote 1

  • Archeology: the study of human history through artifacts.

  • Biological/physical anthropology: the study of human evolution.

  • Cultural/social anthropology: the study of how people live, including their practices, views, and social organization.

  • Linguistic anthropology: the study of how people communicate and how languages are linked.

From the micro to the macro, anthropology challenges us to rethink societal systems, relationships, and what we know about our collective and individual histories. For example, a personal view of anthropology may have you challenging assumptions about your childhood, family system, and body. A wider lens will investigate how those areas interact and evolve at the community and societal level.Footnote 2

Anthropology | Introduction Image Description

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Anthropology course curriculum

Foundational online anthropology courses introduce learners to the field and can expose them to best practices and methodologies for observation, interviewing, and other approaches for analyzing humans in their environments. Learning anthropological topics can also prove useful for individuals who want to work in vastly different fields, from new product development to health care delivery.

Topics potentially covered in an introductory anthropology course include:

  • The anthropological toolkit

  • Cultural differences versus sameness

  • Engaging in cultural comparison

  • Current world issues relating to identity and power

A specialized anthropology class can teach topics ranging from studies of urban life and public transportation’s role in creating a liveable city, to an examination of how anthropology can help government leaders better understand global problems through the perspectives of different people.

Explore a career in anthropology

What can you do with an anthropology degree? Professionals work in companies, government agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations.Footnote 3 Some job titles in this field include: 

  • Forensic anthropologist: analyzes human remains, especially for criminal investigations.

  • Historic preservationist: restores or rebuilds objects or structures of historical importance.

  • Market researcher: uses interviewing and surveying skills to analyze consumer behavior by a particular culture or social group.

  • Medical anthropologist: examines how external factors can affect the health of individuals or groups of them and their environments. 

  • Museum curator: uses archeological expertise to plan and stage exhibitions that inform and educate visitors about human history.

  • Natural resources manager: works with government officials, residents, farmers, and others to understand and alleviate their impact on neighboring ecosystems and environmental resources.

  • Park ranger: protects parks and educates the public about the parks’ history and the humans who are part of their history, especially indigenous people.

How to become an anthropologist online

Professionals in anthropology and archeology often have experience with quantitative and qualitative research methods. Their skills allow them to perform duties that can include, but are not limited to, the following:Footnote 4

  • Planning cultural research

  • Customizing data collection methods by categories

  • Collecting and managing information from observations, interviews, and documents

  • Analyzing data

  • Producing reports and presenting research

  • Advising on the cultural impact of policies, programs, and products

While there are different educational options available to learn about anthropology, specific roles can require certain degree levels and additional skills. And employers may have their own additional requirements. Whether they are simply pursuing an interest or they plan to begin a career in the field, learners can study anthropology online with courses offered through edX. 

A range of educational opportunities are offered that can fit different needs, depending on their desired time commitment and schedule. edX makes it easy to explore all available training and course options.

Courses and programs leading to bachelor’s degrees are available, and learners who want to advance their careers through graduate studies can explore programs for master’s degrees. Individuals interested in specialized topics may find online courses or boot camps useful.