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Online Bachelor's in Anthropology Degree Programs

Anthropologists study human societies, human cultural artifacts, and many other aspects of how humans have lived throughout time in order to add to our understanding of humanity. Within anthropology there are several distinct subdisciplines that define various aspects of the field. For example, in social and cultural anthropology, or sociocultural anthropology, researchers and scholars identify and analyze human customs, rituals, folklore, artistic representations, and functional institutions such as the family in order to draw conclusions about how humanity has evolved and its continued evolution.

Biological or physical anthropology, in contrast, is more narrowly focused on examining tangible evidence of human evolution, including fossils and other biological artifacts that help to explain and elucidate how human beings have lived over time. Linguistic anthropology uses language as a starting point for cultivating a deeper understanding of how human societies and cultures have developed. There are also numerous other specializations within anthropology in which scholars examine music, diet, economics, political structures, gender relations, and other specific factors in order to deepen and broaden our knowledge of ourselves.

What Is a Bachelor’s in Anthropology Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in anthropology is an undergraduate degree conferred by a college or university that offers a designated plan of study in anthropology, the history of anthropological thought and theories, and the professional practice of anthropology. Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Anthropology degrees are the two most common types of bachelor’s degrees in the field. They typically require students to complete four years or eight semesters of full-time academic study that includes general education coursework in areas like writing, mathematics, history, literature, art, language, social science, and physical science, as well as a major in anthropology consisting of required introductory and intermediate coursework and electives. Some bachelor’s in anthropology programs may require or give students the option of completing a final research paper or project in which they apply what they have learned in the program to active scholarship in the field.

Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology Programs

Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology programs are bachelor’s programs that use distance learning technologies to offer the same type of training and instruction as traditional, campus-based programs. Online programs provide all or most of their instruction using learning management systems (LMSs), which are interactive computer platforms that support instructional activities, including streamed lectures and virtual classroom sessions, pre-recorded course modules, and discussion forums. Students in an online program generally contact instructors electronically, via email or messaging applications built into a program’s LMS. They are also able to complete and submit most if not all of their assignments through the platform. This gives students who would like to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology without having to relocate or commute to a college or university campus a more convenient and flexible alternative to campus-based programs.

How Identifies and Classifies Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology Programs researches bachelor’s programs, identifies programs that offer all or most of their instruction online, and classifies programs based on their curriculum and other important factors. Programs listed on the site must use online instruction as the primary means of delivering required lectures and coursework. Programs that require students to attend more than two campus-based sessions per year are not listed on the site.

In addition, to be listed on the site a program must be offered by a non-profit college or university that has formal accreditation, and to be classified as an online Bachelor’s in Anthropology program it must have a designated major in anthropology that provides students with training and instruction in the theories and professional practice of anthropology.

What Students Learn in an Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology Program

Students in an online Bachelor’s in Anthropology program learn about the field of anthropology, its practice, and the application of anthropological research and theories. This typically includes taking an introduction to anthropology class that covers the history of anthropology, the major theories of anthropology, and anthropological research methods, as well as providing an overview of how anthropology and the study of human culture bridges the gap between research in the social and physical sciences and scholarship in the humanities. An undergraduate major in anthropology may then include coursework in biological anthropology and human evolution, social and cultural anthropology, archeology, and linguistic anthropology.

Some programs may also offer courses that focus on the work of anthropologists in particular areas, such as among the indigenous peoples of North America, or in particular time periods, such as prehistoric Europe or the contemporary world. Students may also be required or encouraged to take courses in human sexuality, ethnicity, art history, religion and spirituality, economics, and/or developmental psychology, as these subjects are relevant to the practice of anthropology. As part of a bachelor’s degree program, students must also complete general education requirements across a range of subjects in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences.

Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology Courses

Course names, course descriptions, and curricular requirements vary by program, so Bachelor’s in Anthropology programs will vary by college and university. However, most programs generally cover many of the same core topics in the field. Therefore, the table below offers a representative overview of the types of courses students typically take as part of anthropology major.

Course TitleCourse Description
History of Anthropological ThoughtA survey of anthropological theory from its beginnings in 19th century up through the 20th century, with an examination of contemporary schools of thought in anthropology.
Cultural AnthropologyAn introduction to the concepts and methods of sociocultural anthropology, with illustrative examples from various regions of the world that demonstrate how anthropologists use the tools of cultural anthropology to dissect economic, political, and social dimensions of how humans exist in the world.
Bones, Stones, and Human EvolutionA survey of physical anthropology and archaeology, including the collection of fossils, artifacts, and remains that illuminate the processes of human evolution and cultural change.
Biological AnthropologyAn examination of accepted theories of human evolution and biological adaptation and their application to the study of anthropology.
Comparative CulturesThe anthropological study of sociocultural diversity and the use of anthropological methods to identify and classify various features of distinct cultures in order to compare, contrast, and better understand people from various parts of the world.
Primate Behavior and EcologyBehavioral patterns, ecological relationships, and communication of nonhuman primates.
Indigenous Peoples of North AmericaAn examination of the political, economic, social, and ideological systems and organizations of Native American and First Nation cultures, the similarities and differences among them, and how this influences views on identity, the environment, historical narratives, spirituality, politics, art, and cultural property.
Prehistoric Origins of ArtA survey of the earliest evidence of art and symbolic representations made by humans.
SexualitiesAn introduction to the study of human sexuality, the biological and cultural origins of sex and gender, and social constructs surrounding human sexuality and sexual identity.
Introduction to Forensic AnthropologyAn examination of how anthropological evidence gathering techniques are used within the legal system in order to document crimes, identify and recover evidence, and reconstruct past events.
Economic AnthropologyA comparative exploration of production, exchange, and consumption behavior throughout history, from pre-capitalist economies to post-industrial consumerist systems.
Anthropology in the Modern WorldAn examination of the social and cultural causes of contemporary problems and the application of anthropological methods to better understanding and addressing these problems.

Admissions to Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology Programs

Admissions policies, procedures, and requirements for online Bachelor’s in Anthropology programs vary by school and by program. It is thus important to carefully review a program’s specific requirements, including submission deadlines, prior to initiating the application process. While all bachelor’s programs require applicants to hold a high school diploma or equivalent, there are a number of other factors that programs may weigh as part of the admissions process, including high school grade point average (GPA), standardized college entrance exam scores (typically the SAT), a written personal goals statement, and/or answers to one or more essay questions or prompts.

Some online bachelor’s programs may also be designed specifically for students who have already taken classes at the college level, either through a prior bachelor’s degree program or an associate degree program at the junior or community college level. For these types of programs, which are sometimes referred to as bachelor’s completion programs, students are expected to have completed the majority of their general education requirements before starting the program. Students exploring online programs should research programs carefully to determine if they are full undergraduate degree programs or bachelor’s completion programs.

Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology Program Formats

There are two primary methods for online course delivery: synchronous instruction; and asynchronous instruction. There are also various enrollment options available to students through online Bachelor’s in Anthropology programs. In addition, online programs may be structured to include a limited number of campus-based learning sessions or they may be offered 100% online with no required campus visits. All three of these factors – instruction methods, enrollment options, and campus visits – can affect the online learning experience and impact the relative convenience and flexibility of an online program. Each is discussed in greater detail in the sections below.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: Synchronous instruction refers to instruction and other directed learning activities that take place in real-time and thus require a student to be actively engaged while a class is in sessions. In contrast, asynchronous instruction does not have a real-time component and comprises any number of learning activities and experiences that can take place whenever a student chooses to engage. Students in an online program that utilizes synchronous instruction must adhere to a schedule that requires them to log on to a program’s LMS for virtual classes. Students in an online program that does not utilize synchronous instruction and that offers all of its coursework via asynchronous instruction have the freedom and flexibility to stream lectures and view other instructional materials at their convenience, 24-7.

While asynchronous instruction does provide more flexibility than synchronous instruction, it requires a greater amount of self-discipline and self-motivation, as students are required to complete coursework and assignments according to a schedule and set due dates. Synchronous instruction provides a more structured learning environment than asynchronous instruction and may be a better option for students who would prefer an online learning experience that is more similar to attending live, campus-based classes.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrollment: At the bachelor’s level, full-time enrollment may equate to taking four or five courses per 15-week semester and spending 40 or more hours per week on schoolwork while classes are in session. Part-time enrollment typically means cutting the number of courses taken per semester by roughly half and spending closer to 15 or 20 hours per week on schoolwork. Most bachelor’s programs are designed to be completed in four years/eight semester of full-time enrollment. Students who opt for part-time enrollment generally extend the time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree by a year or more.

There are online Bachelor’s in Anthropology programs that have designated full-time time and/or part-time enrollment tracks, as well as programs that offer flexible enrollment, allowing students to choose the number of courses they take each term within a certain range (e.g., one to five is common). Potential applicants to online bachelor’s programs may want to review a program’s enrollment options/requirements prior to submitting an application in order to ensure that the program’s structure will align with their schedule.

Campus Visits: Many online Bachelor’s in Anthropology programs are offered 100% online and do not require students to attend any campus visits. However, some programs integrate a limited number of campus visits into their instructional curriculum and require students to attend these campus-based sessions. On-campus learning can be a valuable addition to an online program, as it provides students with opportunities for face-to-face interactions with instructors and classmates while allowing the program to offer training and instruction that may be difficult to provide online. Campus visits commonly incorporate orientations, seminars, workshops, lectures, and other types of learning experiences.

On-campus sessions, which may also be referred to as residences, typically last three to five days and may be scheduled over long weekends to accommodate students who work during the week. It is important to note that campus visits can add travel and lodging expenses to the cost of earning a degree, so they may not be ideal for all students. Potential applicants who are concerned about being required to travel to a school’s campus while earning their bachelor’s degree should review program requirements carefully prior to applying in order to determine if any on-campus sessions are required. does not list programs that require more than two campus visits per year.