Program & Degrees

Coursework in anthropology gives students powerful tools for making sense of society and culture, and an appreciation of both different cultures and of hierarchies and inequality in the 21st century world. This broad training in understanding culture and society is a perfect foundation for a wide array of careers, from medicine and the law to art and politics. As a discipline, anthropology combines the rigor of science with the creative unexpectedness of art; it endeavors to evoke the real spirit, the true picture of human life in all its complexity, context, and contradiction.

Our courses offers students critical understanding of key questions of war, poverty, and creativity; many also focus on particular regions of the world (for example, China, Latin America, Africa, and Europe), taught by faculty members who are leading world experts in these areas. Anthropology also has a tradition of activism and advocacy (in fact, the famous anthropologist, doctor, and humanitarian Paul Famer – founder of Partners in Health and now a member of the Duke Board of Trustees – is a graduate of our department). Anthropology is also a big tent discipline that has welcomed people who may not feel represented in the “mainstream” because of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or background (some examples include Margaret Mead, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude Levi-Strauss, Don Kulick, Michel-Rolph Trouillot). Many of our faculty lead DukeEngage programs (including to China and Northern Ireland), and our faculty members established the Duke in Ghana Global Education program. 

As the discipline evolves our historic tools, honed in small-scale societies, are increasingly applied to other “tribes” like computer programmers, lab scientists, gamers, genetic clinicians, high energy physicists, sports teams, stockbrokers, and the people (and other beings) affected by their work, including test tube babies, nuclear down-winders, patient advocacy groups, fan cultures, and environmental activists. Actual people, in their singularity and specificity, are central to anthropology as it also ponders the big questions of life, death, justice, and power.

Degree Options

Degree or Credential Requirements
Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology
  • 3 Foundation Courses
  • 7 Additional Cultural Anthropology Courses with at least 5 at the 100+ level, and 1 at the 400+ level
Interdepartmental Major
  • 3 Foundation Courses
  • 4 Additional Cultural Anthropology Courses with at least 1 at the 400+ level
Minor in Cultural Anthropology
  • Introductory Course
  • 4 Additional Cultural Anthropology Courses with at least 3 at 100+ level