Mar 16, 2018  
2016-2018 Catalog 
2016-2018 Catalog

Anthropology, B.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Degree and Program Offerings

Program of Study

Anthropology is the study of humans and what they think and do. Anthropology embraces a holistic perspective—the big picture—when examining human phenomena, seeking to understand human ideas and behavior as they are influenced by biological, ecological, economic, social, political, cultural, and religious factors and realities.

The Anthropology major at California State University San Marcos is an applied, collaborative, and interdisciplinary course of study that engages students directly with the interests and efforts of local communities. The Anthropology major takes into primary consideration the special role of Cal State San Marcos in the north San Diego county region and the opportunities for community-based research and fieldwork. CSUSM anthropology students gain hands-on field research experience through participation in long-term and on-going anthropological and archeological research among some of San Diego County’s diverse communities.

The Anthropology major has two areas of concentration—Medical Anthropology and Indigenous Anthropology—that interrelate and complement each other as well as articulate with regional community interests. After a core curriculum of anthropological and archeological concepts and methods, anthropology students work collaboratively with local communities and agencies, including farm workers, local Native American Bands, migrants and immigrants, local health service providers, state and county Departments of Health, indigenous Mexicans and Oaxaqueños, historical and and archeological foundations, and other communities. Through an engaged and innovative curriculum that responds to state and regional needs, the anthropology program trains students in qualitative and quantitative research methods that include ethnography, participant observation, ethnographic film, social documentation, ethnomedicine, ethnobotany, survey, and applied archaeology.

The Anthropology major distinguishes itself through long-term collaborative research projects that enhance student learning experiences, promote the interests of local communities, and practice complementary exchange between the University and the community.

The interdisciplinary curriculum draws upon existing faculty expertise and incorporates courses from the biological sciences, film studies, ethnic studies, border and regional studies, history, geography, linguistics, mass media, Native American studies, nursing, philosophy, political science, sociology, and visual and performing arts.

The two areas of concentration that have distinct yet related areas of focus are Medical Anthropology and Indigenous Anthropology.

Medical Anthropology—focuses on the study of medical systems, health disciplines, community health, access to and utilization of health care, medicinal concepts and practices, and forms of diagnosis, prognosis, illness causation, and disease etiologies. Advanced students conduct field research and internships in diverse health care settings.

Indigenous Anthropology—focuses on working collaboratively with regional indigenous communities on long-term research and documentation projects that include but are not limited to: ethnobotany, cultural revitalization, social documentation, and issues surrounding cultural survival. Advanced students conduct field and laboratory research in collaboration with community-driven social documentation projects.

Program Objectives

  • Provide applied learning experiences for students through collaborative, community-based field research using medical, cultural, visual, and environmental anthropological methods.
  • Engender holistic understanding of the complex social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental influences on the human experience.
  • Contribute to raising awareness of issues surrounding indigenous and transnational communities in the region and cultural awareness in general.
  • Engage in collaborative, community-based approaches to medical, cultural, and environmental issues.
  • Use quantitative and qualitative research methods, including ethnographic fieldwork, community-based needs assessment, interviewing, focus groups, applied archaeology, and social documentation to address long-term community interests.
  • Commit to partnerships between the University, students, and community aimed at regional enhancement through collaborative research and action.
  • Respect the many ways of knowing and doing that we encounter in professional, civic, and daily life.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology will be able to:

  1. Analyze how human universals, such as world view concepts of self and other, the we/they dichotomy; sex; gender; world view concepts of self and other, relationship, classification, causation, space, and time; subsistence (economic production and environmental interaction); political organization; social organization; kinship; and religion, affect human thought and behavior.
  2. Communicate — via speaking, writing, and other media — anthropological perspective including holism, cultural relativism, and cross-cultural human phenomena.
  3. Demonstrate via communication and writing an understanding about culture in terms of its learned, symbolic, dynamic, and integrated nature.
  4. Identify the ethical issues surrounding anthropological investigation and the relationship between the anthropologist and the subject or subjects.
  5. Work collaboratively with local organizations and agencies on long-term community-based research projects involving ethnographic field research.
  6. Apply and integrate quantitative and qualitative data analysis, literature research, writing, and speaking to real world issues.

Community Partners

The Anthropology major’s enhanced learning experiences gained through field research are based on collaborative partnerships with the following community organizations and agencies:

Bi-National Indigenous Organization Front
Centers for Binational Indigenous Development
Coalition of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities
Farmworker C.A.R.E. Coalition
National Latino Research Center
North County Health Services
Palomar Pomerado Health
Pechanga Cultural Resources Department
San Diego Archaeological Center
San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Mission Indians
Vista Community Clinic

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the Anthropology major will be uniquely positioned to acquire professional employment in the areas of social services, health services, education, and public service because they will have been engaged in research projects involving these areas and collaborating with local agencies focused on the delivery of these services. Additionally, graduates who desire to continue post-baccalaureate study in anthropology will benefit from CSUSM’s established and cooperative links with anthropology graduate programs of regional institutions, including UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, and San Diego State University.

Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts and Minor in Anthropology

All courses counted toward the major, including Preparation for the Major courses, and the minor must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

Articulation with Community Colleges

Articulation with local community colleges and collaboration with the anthropology programs at local community colleges have strongly guided the development of the CSUSM Anthropology major. Introductory courses in cultural, biological, linguistic, or archaeological anthropology given at community colleges can count toward preparation for the Anthropology major at Cal State San Marcos. Certain lower-division courses, such as those listed below, specializing in various disciplinary concentrations of the major, including archaeology, linguistics, biological anthropology, and Native American/American Indian Studies, can count for major requirements (up to nine units in addition to the required six (6) units of Lower-Division preparation for the major coursework). Anthropology coursework taken at other institutions may be applied to the Anthropology major only when approved by department chair. An updated list of approved community college transfer courses will be maintained at

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology

General Education (51 Units)

General Education Requirements 

Preparation for the Major (6 Units)

Major Requirements (33 Units)


Core Anthropology Courses (6 Units)

Foundational Anthropology Courses for Major (18 Units)

Choose any six (6) 300-level Anthropology courses except ANTH 305  (for Medical Anthropology majors)

Upper-Division Field Research Courses (9 Units)

Students may choose from two disciplinary concentrations: Medical Anthropology and Indigenous Anthropology

Breadth Electives (9 Units)

Please see Anthropology staff or advisor for consultation regarding what courses from other disciplines may be applied to the Anthropology major. A list of CSUSM courses that apply to the Anthropology major are maintained at

Minimum Total (120 Units)

Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total to a minimum of 120

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Degree and Program Offerings