"The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences." – Ruth Benedict

Anthropology is the study of human cultural and biological variation and change, giving students an appreciation of human diversity. Anthropologists examine all aspects of the human experience to identify, compare and interpret patterns in the data using cultural, biological, linguistic and archaeological perspectives.

Cultural anthropologists study the patterns of socially transmitted cultural beliefs and practices in contemporary human societies. Linguistic anthropologists study the languages and communication patterns of societies around the world. Archaeologists study material culture to assist them in their reconstruction of past cultural systems. Physical anthropologists study the biological variation of past and present human populations within an evolutionary framework.

The UNI anthropology program provides students with a solid grounding in these four fields of anthropology. Our courses offer hands-on experience with the techniques of linguistic anthropology, forensic anthropology, archaeology, qualitative research, and museum studies.

Students have the opportunity to study with professors with expertise in medical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, forensic anthropology, archaeology of North America, and the study of religion, in addition to areal expertise in China, Japan, Africa, Mesoamerica, and Native North America. We encourage internships, student research, and study abroad. If you're fascinated by human differences and why humans behave the way we do, then anthropology is the major for you!

This is anthropology! 


Students transferring to UNI should take Human Origins and Culture, Nature and Society (also called Introduction to Cultural Anthropology), which are prerequisites for upper level courses in anthropology. Courses listed as 3000 or 4000 level courses cannot be transferred from community colleges. For more information, contact Tyler O’Brien, transfer advisor, at


Student studying at Hartman Reserve

This student-run club organizes field trips and attends regional anthropology conferences.

Anthropology student holding artifact

During your time at UNI, you will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom, such as museum internships, archaeology field school and undergraduate student research funds.

Student abroad group photo in Brazil

Whether you are looking to spend a couple of weeks or full semester abroad, UNI's Anthropology program encourages it's students to explore the many international opportunities available via our Office of Study Abroad.


96% of last year's UNI graduates are employed or continuing their education


State Archeologist

Nonprofit Management


National Parks


Have questions or want more information? Fill out the form below and someone from the department will contact you directly. To receive general university information from UNI’s admissions office, please click on ‘Request More Info About UNI’.

Dr. Donald Gaff
Associate Professor of Anthropology
(319) 273-7274

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.