First, let’s take a look at what skills and abilities you will develop in getting your degree in Anthropology.
The crown jewel of your experience in the undergraduate anthropology department is the field school. As part of your anthropology training, students are required to conduct their own original research from start to finish. This is something that is very rare - even in anthropology departments (fewer than 5% of anthropology departments in the U.S. require field research projects and most of those are much less intensive than what you will do at BYU).
BYU's Unique Curriculum
For those who haven't yet done their field school, the undergraduate Anthropology degree is built around the thesis. There are four classes that you take as part of writing your thesis. These classes will mentor you through the process of 1) designing a research project, including background research and methodology (442), 2) conducting the necessary fieldwork (495), 3) analyzing the data (443), and 4) writing it all up (499). This will ensure that once you have finished course work, you will have an impressive finished product.
Upon graduating you will then be able to take this impressive product to employers to demonstrate to them what you are capable of. There are very few college graduates who can say that they have undertaken a major research project from start to finish. To have done so will put you in the top 5% of college graduates in the U.S. That is a serious advantage.
Unfortunately, many of our anthropology undergraduates often don’t realize what a tremendous accomplishment this is. If you are an anthropology graduate, don’t make this mistake. Be sure to make mention of this in all of your resume related documents and be ready to talk about it in job interviews. (Don’t hide your thesis under a bushel!).
So, what skills can you expect to gain from your thesis research?
Skills You Will Acquire as an Anthropology Major at BYU
1. Ability to communicate through writing and speaking. The final thesis that you will produce will be a 25-50 page paper that demonstrates your thorough engagement with theory and previous research and makes an original contribution to this research with the research findings from your field work. You will spend a lot of time drafting this document and writing and re-writing. As any good writer can tell you, this is the key to becoming a good communicator in writing.
2. Additionally, as part of the process, you will present your research (multiple times) to a number of different audiences. In doing so, you will develop your skills at presenting orally.
3. The ability to work in teams (typically, you will be working with others in your field site).
4. Ability to design and carry out research independently. This includes designing a research project from scratch, starting with question design, background literature review, design of what you will do in the field, and carrying out that research in the field.
5. Abillity to independently analyze and interpret data that you have collected during your field work. In doing this you will develop skills using qualitative data analysis software to analyze the data you have collected.
6. Ability to communicate clearly and effectively in oral and written form. In addition to your thesis paper, you will have multiple opportunities to present your findings and will receive constructive feedback each step along the way.
Other skills you will gain from general coursework in Anthropology
7. Ability to understand different cultures and to know how to completely communicate accross cultural difference.
8. Critical thinking skills. You will develop this attribute in every course you take in Anthropology as we challenge you to think differently and to question your basic assumptions and understandings about the world around you.
9. Ability to communicate well in writing. Most anthropology courses involve writing of some sort or other.
10. Think about the world differently.
With these learned skills you will now be prepared to enter the workforce and excel in whatever field you choose.