When To Study Abroad - Anthropology Major

D'arcy Castle, IrelandAnthropology is by definition multi-cultural and international.  In the university setting, professors and their students explore when, why, and how distinct cultural perspectives and practices interact. In the business world, both employers and employees must deal with the realities of an increasingly interconnected and global economy.   Also, public health, economic development, and resource conservation programs administered by NGOs or at various levels of government are far more likely to succeed if input from local people is incorporated into the planning and implementation.

Taking courses abroad will give you real-world access to a variety of cosmopolitan issues and cross-cultural experiences. The skills you will develop while abroad will help you in your current coursework and research. They will also look great on resumes and applications to law schools, graduate schools, and schools of public health.

View from Croagh Patrick, Ireland

By going abroad, you can complete coursework for your Anthropology major, work on the requirements for a second major or minor, work on GERs, study a foreign language, do an archaeology dig, or create your own research program.  To find out more about these options and many others, explore this website, talk with your academic advisor, and stop by the Study Abroad office.


Usually, we do not encourage students to study abroad during their first year.  However, Freshman year is a great time to start thinking about when, where, and why you’d like to go overseas.  Explore this website and stop by the Study Abroad office to see all of your options. 

Roman Ruins in Trier, GermanyHowever, the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year is good time to study abroad on a short-term program, especially for Anthropology majors. There are some great dig and field experience opportunities out there, so talk to your major advisor and a study abroad advisor to learn more.


Sophomore year can be a very good time to study abroad.  You can work on foreign language requirements (always a good skill for Anthropology majors!), finish GERs, or work on some of your major coursework. If you’d like to take anthropology classes abroad in your Sophomore year, think about going overseas your second semester, and then try to complete your introductory level classes during your Freshman year, or during the first semester of your Sophomore year.


Junior year is perhaps the best time to go abroad. By now, you’ve probably taken some if not all of your language requirements, as well as your intro-level anthropology courses, so you’ve got a good foundation to build on! Look for programs with courses that fit into your academic plan – are you interested in biological anthropology, linguistics, or gender studies, for example? Or, think about visiting a country or location you’re interested in researching either as part of a GIS back at The University of Iowa, or as preparation for an undergraduate honors thesis. However, remember that if you’re interested in graduating with honors in anthropology, you must take the Honors Research Seminar, and it is only offered in the Fall, so plan ahead and talk to your advisor about your options.

"Black Gate" - Trier, GermanySenior

Senior year can be another great time to go abroad, especially if you’ve planned ahead and spoken with you major and study abroad advisors. Studying abroad Senior year can help you finish a research project, gain additional language skills, take classes not offered at the University of Iowa, or even do an internship or field study. All of these things will look great on a resume or application, and in general, study abroad is a fantastic way to prepare for life after college!

BA in Anthropology

The major requires at least 33 semester hours of coursework in anthropology, of which at least 15 must be earned at The University of Iowa.

Roman Ruins in Cologne, GermanyRequirements include the following:

One of these:

113:003 Introduction to the Study of Culture and Society
113:010 Anthropology and Contemporary World Problems

All of these:

113:012 Introduction to Prehistory
113:013 Human Origins
113:014 Language, Culture, and Communication
113:050 Issues in Anthropology

  • Students are encouraged to take the introductory anthropology courses at The University of Iowa. However, advisors are willing to consider study abroad options. Meet with your advisor for more information.

One 100-level course in archaeology (areal or topical) or biological anthropology
One 100-level course in sociocultural or linguistic anthropology
One 100-level course in area studies

  • Upper-level courses and electives are great things to take while studying overseas. However, before leaving The University of Iowa, you must get all courses approved by your advisor.

Roman Ruins in Cologne, GermanyBS in Anthropology

In addition to meeting the requirements of the BA Anthropology degree, students interested in earning a BS must also:

Take a minimum of two courses/six semester hours of quantitative or formal reasoning beyond that required for the GER.  You should speak with your advisor before selecting these courses.

  • These courses can often be taken overseas.

Complete a minimum of one course/three semester hours directed laboratory or field research experience. 

  • There are a variety of options here, so speak with your advisor to learn more, and to see if study abroad could fulfill this requirement.

Fulfill an allied topical coursework (related minor). 

  • Meeting this requirement could be a great way to go overseas.

To graduate with a BS, students must earn 42 hours, not including the hours need to complete their minor.

In some countries, anthropology and archaeology are taught very differently than they are here at The University of Iowa.  However, rather than preclude study abroad, these differences are a great opportunity to learn new and different approaches to your chosen field of study. For more information about these differences, speak with your major advisor, and read about the specific courses by visiting the “Recommended Programs” section of this site and by stopping by the Study Abroad office and scheduling an appointment with one of our advisors.

If you are a double-major, like many Anthropology students, it is important to consider the requirements of both of your majors and talk with all of your advisors before planning to spend a semester or year abroad.

The programs listed below were chosen because they offer a diverse representation of issues in anthropology, unique cultural experiences, or specialized internship options. While we suggest you look at these highlighted programs first, feel free to explore our website or visit an online directory of study abroad programs.

As the UI Department of Anthropology works with Study Abroad, the specific programs listed here may change, so check with your advisor for the latest updates.

The programs listed below are divided into two categories: General Anthropology Programs, which are arranged alphabetically by location, and Multiple Location Programs, many of which feature strong field school or hands-on experiences. There is some overlap between these sections.


Regents Semester in Australia

At the University of Newcastle, anthropology is taught through the Faculty of Education and Arts and the School of Humanities and Social Science. The University is also connected with several research institutions that specialize in women's studies, transformational studies, and health and aging. For more information and a list of available courses, see a study abroad advisor.


USAC Chile

This program offers classroom study in Santiago for either a summer or a full semester. The semester program offers an anthropology class on indigenous groups, leaving time to pursue language study, other coursework, and travel.

The summer program includes a one week excursion to the North, visits to San Pedro de Atacama and to other communities, and trips to geological and archeological sites on the desert plateau. The two summer courses, Chile’s Native Cultures from the North and Chile’s Native Cultures from the South, earn a total of six semester hours. Students are encouraged to have already completed their introductory coursework in anthropology. Spanish language skills are desirable, but not required.

CIEE Chile

This program combines group and direct enrollment courses, including anthropology classes. For more information, visit the Study Abroad office.


SIT Yunnan, China:Chinese Culture & Ethnic Minorities

This SIT program is centered in Yunnan , home to 25 of China's 55 officially recognized ethnic groups, and a hub of NGO activity. Students with this program do classroom work, participate it homestays and field excursions, take an intensive language study course, and complete an independent project. Previous projects have covered topics such as rural health care, tourism, renewable energy and agriculture, and the influence of NGOs. For more information, visit the SIT Yunnan website.

CIEE Beijing Ethnic Identity and Cultural Studies

With this program, students have the opportunity to travel within the country and take Mandarin and Tibetan language classes. Courses are taught in English. For more information visit the CIEE Beijing website.


The University of Iceland

At the University of Iceland, anthropology and archeology are administered by the Faculty of Humanities. Courses of interest to Anthropology students include: Icelandic Culture, Theoretical Issues in Contemporary Archeology, Viking Age Archeology, Icelandic Landscape Archeology, and History of Iceland from Settlement to the Present. For more information, visit the Study Abroad office and schedule and appointment with an advisor.


Fall Semester in India

Based in Mysore, this program features field trips, classes, and independent study.  For the first two months of the program, students take classes at the Swami Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (SVIIS).  Then, students are given several weeks to complete an independent project or undertake an internship.


ISEP Malta

Within the Faculty of Arts, the Department of Classics and Archeology offers introductory courses, as well as more advanced classes in Phoenician and Punic Archeology, Maltese Prehistory, Roman Malta, and the Development and Theory of Archeology. In addition, the University of Malta's Mediterranean Institute offers courses in anthropology. 


IFSA Butler Language and Cultural Studies in the Yucatan

This program, designed by Butler University specifically for US students, is run in conjunction with Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán.  Spanish language study and academic excursions to archeological sites throughout the Yucatan Peninsula are open to all students regardless of language proficiency. Students with relevant academic backgrounds and a research interest have access to some of Mexico’s top anthropologists at the UAY.  At a more introductory level, students  with five semesters of college Spanish can choose from Mayan Civilization, Introduction to Underwater Archeology, Mexican Anthropology, among other courses. Visit the IFSA Butler website for more information. 


ISEP Thammasat University in Bangkok

Through this program, students have the opportunity to engage with one of Asia’s most appealing cultures. This is an integrated and interdisciplinary program for Thai and foreign students is taught in English and includes Thai language instruction. A wide range of courses on historical and present-day Thailand are offered, and the program includes several relevant field trips. Year-long study and completion of 30 sh yields a Thai Studies Certificate from Thammasat University. It can be extended in an optional 8-week summer field study in Thai rural communities, affording a unique grassroots experience. 

ISEP Direct - Buddhism and Thai Society Summer Program

This four week program in July focuses on the complex relationship between Buddhism and Thai history. Students combine coursework with visits to sites of cultural and historic significance, such as Ayudhaya, Pimai, Sukhotai, and Chiangmai.  Fellow participants include students from other South East Asian countries. For more information, visit ISEP's website and talk to a study abroad advisor.

CIEE Thailand

This program is based Khon Kaen in northeast Thailand and is offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters. This group program provides both area studies, introducing students to current issues and Thai culture, as well as hands-on experience with the implementation of development projects in Thailand.  Project can be shaped with substantial input form UI faculty well ahead of the student’s arrival in Thailand. For more information, visit the CIEE website.

United Kingdom

Queen’s University Belfast

QUB's School of Geography, Archeology, and Paleoecology is very well respected, and its staff of over 30 academics offers classes in Early Mining and Metals, Prehistoric Ireland, Ancient Europe, Human Evolution and Environmental Impact, Environmental Archeology, and many others. Recently, QUB also founded Centre for Archeological Fieldwork and received a 6.2 million Euro grant for the CHRONO Project, which enabled them to build brand new facilities. Visit their webpage and talk with a study abroad advisor for more information.


SIT Vietnam: Culture and Development

Students are based in Ho Chi Minh City, where they participate in interdisciplinary coursework, intense language study, field work, homestays, and sponsored excursions. Students also have the chance to do independent research. Previous projects have included research on HIV/AIDs in the region, regional interpretations of the US/Vietnam War, malaria, and child workers. For more information, visit the SIT Vietnam website.

Multiple Location Programs

Central College (Pella) - Summer Program in Ethnographic Research

This program focuses on ethnographic field work. The study site alternates between the Basque (3rd year Spanish required) and rural Wales (English is sufficient). The program is known for its dynamic instructors and fantastic ethnographic field work.  Locations are different every summer – check it out! Visit the Study Abroad office and check out program details at  www.central.edu/abroad.


The Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) is a group of 20 liberal arts colleges, universities, and associations that have worked together to create intense off-campus international experiences for students. Currently, programs are being offered in:

Ecuador: Community Internships in Latin America
Northern Ireland: Democracy and Social Change
Scandinavia: Urban Studies
Scandinavia and Eastern Europe: Divided States

There is also a short-term program in Bangladesh. For more information, visit their website and talk with a study abroad advisor.


LEXIA and SIT programs focus on independent research projects that are based on gathering of field information. Supplementary seminars provide background to the country and society. Visit the Study Abroad office to view a complete list and learn more.