Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology
“What are you gonna do with that degree?” is a question frequently asked of anthropology majors. This question implies that the value of a college degree is only about getting a job and that the field of anthropology is not useful to that end. In fact, the popularity of anthropology and related liberal arts fields has been declining even as the number of students enrolled at universities has steadily increased. In a moment when the value of a liberal arts degree is questioned in public discourse, I explore the motivations and goals of students who have chosen to study anthropology at large, public predominantly undergraduate university in the Midwest. Interviews with current students and recent alumni show that students value anthropology because it encourages personal growth and instills them with an eclectic knowledge of the world. Additionally, students appreciate that anthropology does not make them think vocationally about their degree. Instead, it allows students to imagine many future paths because it provides them with a variety of broadly applicable skills. This research offers insights into students’ understanding of the purposes of higher education, and their study of anthropology, and the ways they see their degree as it pertains to life after college.
Kitchin, Maria, "The Value of an Anthropology Degree: Why Undergraduates Major in Anthropology and How It Prepares Them for Life after College" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 1445.