Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton

For Accessible Web Version of Anthropology

What is Anthropology?

Anthropologists study humans and their immediate ancestors. Anthropology confronts and ponders major questions about past, present, and future human existence. Where did we come from? What are we now and where are we going? Anthropology differs from the other social sciences in its emphasis on understanding human diversity and adaptability across time and space.

The Division of Anthropology at CSUF consists of three programs, Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, and Evolutionary Anthropology which together encompass the breadth of anthropological perspectives on the human experience. We believe that a solid understanding of humanity cannot come from studying a single nation, cultural tradition, or time period, and that in order to fully understand ourselves, we need knowledge of both human biology and culture, past and present.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Anthropology?

Students who major or minor in Anthropology will receive a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education and go on to have successful careers in a variety of professions. Today’s anthropologists work in a wide array of fields and careers, from remote jungles to modern urban cities.

Anthropologists work in corporations, all levels of government, educational institutions and non-profit associations. By studying anthropology, students obtain valuable information about the world and thinking skills critical to succeeding in the 21st century in business, research, teaching, advocacy, and public service.

Learn More About a Degree in Anthropology

We encourage you to learn more and find out if a Major, Minor, or Master’s Degree in Anthropology is right for you! Visit our website and contact an Anthropology adviser who can answer all of your questions and help lead you down the right path.

Talk to an Adviser

  • Archaeology: Carl Wendt - cwendt@fullerton.edu
  • Cultural Anthropology: Barbra Erickson - beerickson@fullerton.edu
  • Evolutionary Anthropology: John Patton - johnpatton@fullerton.edu

Alumni Feature

Derek Boyd

Ph.D. Student in Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville / Graduate Teaching Assistant

Derek Boyd was really interested in human anatomy and physiology in high school, but was not satisfied with simply memorizing organs and vessels. He wanted to know why and how human anatomy came to be. Anthropology was really the only place where he was able to link the what to the why and the how.

Studying Anthropology at Cal State Fullerton gave Boyd perspective. "It has taken me out of my own little world and forced me to embrace human difference, shaping my world view in the process." Anthropology has also allowed him to impact others through participating in the identification of human remains in forensic contexts and studying human health and mortality in the past. "CSUF provided me with a well-rounded undergraduate degree in anthropology. I was able to take the information that I gathered from classes in all of the anthropological subfields with me to graduate school. This information was so incredibly helpful, providing me with the foundations with which to explore particular research avenues in biological anthropology. Moreover, the CSUF anthropology department provided me with so many wonderful opportunities, such as internships and research positions, that helped me learn the tools necessary to be a good graduate student and anthropologist-in-training."

Currently, Boyd is working on a dissertation that explores the ways in which our identities shape and are shaped by our experiences of well-being. In particular, he works with human skeletal remains from 18th and 19th century England. He is interested in how regional inequalities between northern and southern England influenced respiratory health and risk of death during the Industrial Revolution. When he is not working on this project, he is a graduate volunteer for the Forensic Anthropology Center (the “Body Farm”) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "I assist with searches, recoveries, and analyses of human remains, as well as with the William M. Bass Body Donation Program."

After Boyd graduates with his Ph.D., he would like to work as either a tenure-track professor of anthropology, for a medical examiner’s office, for a non-governmental human rights organization, or as a researcher in a museum. "In either of these capacities, I would really like to continue working on forensic casework because it allows me to apply my knowledge of human biological variation to human identification and skeletal trauma analysis, giving me the opportunity to help families through what can only be described as one of the hardest and most devastating moments in their lives — losing their loved ones." He would also like to continue his research on human health and mortality in the past and potentially start up a field school in bioarchaeology.

Anthropology is a beautifully diverse field. I highly recommend that students keep this in mind as they explore different sub-fields and sub-disciplines. Because of this diversity, I recommend that students not go into their programs of study with a hard head. Be open to change. Their perspective might change as might their research interests. Most importantly, future students should make sure to be multidisciplinary in how they approach a research topic or career of interest. Anthropologists are very good at grabbing nuggets of knowledge from other fields.

Hiro Nakano

Localization Project Manager, Square

"I was always fascinated by other cultures. Studying Cultural Anthropology... was pretty a natural option for me."

Hiro was born and raised in Japan. At the time, in his opinion, Japan was a very monoculture and monolingual environment. Perhaps this was one of the reasons that Hiro was always fascinated by other cultures growing up.

When the opportunity arose for him to come to the US, which is a lot more diverse culturally than Japan, it seemed like the perfect fit, and a natural option for him.

Here, at CSUF, he earned his MA in Anthropology before being accepted to the Univ. Wisconsin Madison PhD. program. Today Hiro works for Square and says that he uses the concepts he learned here (such as structuralism, discourse, game, power, self vs others, deconstruction) on a daily bases to help understand and see the world more clearly.

Gary Jones

Principal Investigator, Prehistoric Archaeology - California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

"I am very grateful to all of my professors for their efforts on my behalf and the students who are able to take advantage of the opportunity to work with these instructors are very lucky."

Gary took his first Archeology course as an undergrad at Riverside Community College. “I had always been interested in the past” Gary states, “particularly the lives of the Native Americans of California.” While in his introductory course, his professor showed him how to volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service, where he would spend several seasons working with Forest Service Archaeologists at their “Passports in Time” summer program, while in route to earning his Bachelors in Anthropology from Cal State San Bernardino.

In the time leading up to going to grad school, Gary had become very interested in the archaeology of the California Channel Islands – the focus of much of CSUF professor Dr. Steven James’ work. Gary arranged a meeting with Dr. James and the choice was clear. Gary would come to CSUF to earn his Master’s Degree with Dr. James as his Graduate Advisor.

In 2010 Gary completed his degree and now works as Principal Investigator, Prehistoric Archaeology for Caltrans. Additionally, Gary serves as the District Native American Coordinator for Caltrans District 8, which includes all of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. As Gary explains “I conduct and oversee surveys, write and review archaeological reports, and consult with 38 different Native American tribes who live within the District boundaries. I provide direction to archaeological consultants who work for local municipalities when they have projects that touch the interstate highway system so that they can achieve compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.”

Gary credits his ability to perform high quality, professional work to the comprehensive education he received here at CSUF. As he explains “Archaeology is one of the four fields of Anthropology which also includes cultural, linguistic and physical anthropology… I can honestly say that I have used my training in all four fields of Anthropology at Caltrans. I have built a working relationship consulting with Native American tribes (Cultural), I have surveyed and written hundreds of archaeological reports (Archaeology), I have analyzed the conversations of project development team meetings to identify the goals and needs of the participants (Linguistics), and I have been called out to construction sites to identify possible human bone fragments (Physical). I might have been able to perform some of these tasks with a less comprehensive educational background, but in order to perform all of them at a professional level requires the kind of extensive training that Cal State Fullerton’s four field approach provides. I am very grateful to all of my professors for their efforts on my behalf and the students who are able to take advantage of the opportunity to work with these instructors are very lucky.

Judith Wanderman

Retired Human Resources Manager, Volunteer working with Alzheimer Patients

"My degrees gave me confidence in myself and my abilities."

Judith began her collegiate career as a Philosophy major before ultimately becoming an Anthropology major and Philosophy minor. Her reasoning, “all the great thinkers had to have been influenced by different aspects of their culture.” Judith’s decision to switch majors, was the right one for her, evidently, as she loved it so much that she went on to receive her Masters Degree immediately following her Bachelors here at CSUF.

“After getting my degree, management positions opened up to me and I eventually worked for corporate offices in Human Resources.” Judith explains, adding, “All companies have their own culture, nomenclature, and hierarchy and understanding that culture is like doing anthropological field work and really helped me navigate in different environments, from manufacturing, distribution, and construction. I was able to feel comfortable dealing with corporate Presidents and CFO's to union Ironworkers.”

Judith has since retired, but believes that her degree has contributed to the enrichment of her life if other areas as well. As she states “My degrees gave me confidence in myself and my abilities. My anthropology education helped me to be fearless in international travel and have respect for other cultures. The travel bug has taken me to Egypt, Israel, Greece, Italy, Scotland, Iceland, Thailand, Bhutan, India, and Turkey.”

She even volunteered teaching English in Morocco, and helping refugee artists to get involved with mainstream art communities. Today, Judith continues to volunteer by doing art with Alzheimer patients.

Contact Information

  • Anthropology Division - anthrodivision@fullerton.edu
  • 657 278 3626

About Our College and Campus

The Department of Anthropology is a part of the larger College of Humanities and Social Sciences at CSU, Fullerton. H&SS offers its students more than 20 unique degree programs ideal for students who plan to continue their studies in graduate programs, or who want to work in areas such as education, law, politics, business, psychology, public administration, and more.

To learn more about our college and our campus, visit our Prospective Students and our College of Humanities and Social Sciences pages below.

Photo Credits: Brown hand instrument by Stefano Girardelli, unsplash. Ayres Hall, The University of Tennessee by Nightryder84, CC BY-SA 3.0. Card Reader by Kevin Cheng, CC BY 2.0. Caltrans aerial highway by Ken Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0. All modified.

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