What makes humans human? Anthropologists try to answer that question by looking at the diversity of human life — how humans have lived throughout history and how they live in different parts of the world now.

Whether excavating ancient cities or interviewing migrant workers, anthropologists are asking the same big questions. If you enjoy studying the variety of human civilizations, from the ancient Olmecs to the modern Chinese, then anthropology is for you.

Members of the anthropology faculty specialize in various aspects of both ancient civilizations and contemporary globalization, and students can tailor a course of study according to their interests. Interdisciplinary minors in Latin American and Latino Studies and Global Migration Studies offer even more opportunities for students to customize their program.


Anthropology is the study of human diversity from the Paleolithic to the present, how humans form and think about communities, how they make a living, impact the environment, communicate, and express themselves in art, religion, language, and in practical activities. Anthropological study is comparative and wholistic; students learn to integrate diverse kinds of information - environmental, economic, political, social, expressive - into composite pictures of human social life and cultures. Anthropology is where the natural and social sciences meet.

Some anthropologists excavate and study material remains of past societies, others do "up-close and personal" research with living people where they live and work, on their thoughts and feelings, beliefs, recreation, material stuff and everyday lives. Anthropology also includes the study of human evolution and of linguistics, from the dialects that mark communities to how we do things with words.

Anthropologists at The Catholic University of America work in Latin America, the Middle East, and the USA. We study problems of identity and community, experiences of refugees and migrants, the "food chain" from field to table, environmental impacts of human activities, technology and the information revolution, contemporary globalization, ancient art & architecture, and varieties of religious experience and representation.

Catholic University students also can study additional topics with anthropologists in the Washington Consortium of Universities, which include specialists on Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Europe, local communities in the DC area, linguistics, human paleontology, and regional archaeology.

Undergraduate students in anthropology have opportunities to participate in archaeological and other research projects where they sample and gain first-hand acquaintance with the interpretation of data in the field. In addition to faculty projects, the department keeps information on field schools and opportunities for study abroad. The department has ties to the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and with various research and policy organizations in Washington, and can identify internships for students available through the American Anthropological Association and the Society for American Archeology headquarters located here. Work-study may also be available on projects in the department.

A student club, the Cooper-Herzfeld Society, sponsors social events during the year, periodic extra-curricular lectures, talks, and other activities. A professional Anthropological Society of Washington sponsors a lecture series on a different research topic each year, and the American Anthropological Association meets every third year in Washington, providing a special opportunity for students.