Anthropology (cultural)

The anthropology major at Central College, focused on cultural anthropology, emphasizes learning about non-Western societies, with the goal of preparing students for involvement and careers in an increasingly diverse and culturally dynamic world. Students conduct original research and complete internships that provide an edge in applying to jobs or graduate school.

The required courses offer a combination of academic, anthropological knowledge and real-world fieldwork experiences that give students the foundation they will need to put their anthropological training to use after college. The anthropology major is also structured so students can easily combine it with another program of study (e.g. a foreign language major, not-for-profit management, an interdisciplinary program, etc.), providing even greater opportunities for students to capture their individual interests and prepare for a range of professional careers.

of anthropology students participate in an internship
Anthropology Club is a student-led organization that arranges cultural events and field trips
of anthropology grads report their research skills substantially improved

The Central Difference

Student Research

Conducting field research is a rite of passage for all anthropologists. Anthropology majors formulate individual field research projects during their junior year, conducting fieldwork in Pella or surrounding communities. In recent years, students have carried out ethnographic studies of Red Rock park rangers, Knoxville police officers, Iraqi immigrants living in Des Moines and lesbian college students. Students present the results of their research during the Undergraduate Scholarship Symposium in May of each year.

Central Prepares Students for Medical School

An astounding 58 percent of Central College graduates who go to graduate school do so in health-related fields.


During the anthropology major’s Senior Seminar, all anthropology majors participate in a semester-long internship that prepares them for a specific career after graduation. In conjunction with the internship, students identify skills and develop resumes and cover letters that will help them get started on their chosen career path. Majors have recently participated in internships at the Pella Police Department, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Iowa State Historical Society and One Iowa: Equality for LGBT Iowans.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Assistant director of multicultural services, St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind.
  • International education coordinator, Illinois Central College, East Peoria, Ill.
  • President and publisher, Des Moines Register Media
  • Wildlife educator, Pella Wildlife Company
  • International student ministry outreach coordinator, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Urbana, Ill.
  • Senior coordinator for study abroad, Central College

Central Professor to Discuss Sikhs and Anthropologists in Faculty Lecture Series

Cynthia Mahmood, the Frank Moore Endowed Chair in Anthropology and professor of anthropology at Central College, will present “Civic Engagement Between Sikhs and Anthropologists” at 7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in the Boat/Moore rooms of Maytag Student Center.


  • Anthropology Club

No matter what your interests are, Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

Graduate Placement

  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • McGill University, Montreal
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City


  • The Department of Natural Resources
  • Pella Police Department
  • Pella Wildlife Company
  • One Iowa: Equality for LGBT Iowans
  • Lutheran Refugee Services of Iowa
Central College student

Courses & Faculty

Central’s anthropology major is structured to provide students with a strong grounding in cultural anthropology within a liberal arts framework. The required courses offer a combination of academic anthropological knowledge and real-world fieldwork experiences, giving students the foundation they need to put their anthropological training to use after college.

Learn more about Anthropology in the course catalog.

Meet the faculty:

  • Jeffrey Bass, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Cynthia Mahmood, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Frank Moore Endowed Chair in Anthropology and Professor of Anthropology
  • Jeremia Njeru, B.S., M.A., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

Sample Schedule

First Year

  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Archaeology

Sophomore Year

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Cultures of Latin America
  • Schools and Societies

Junior Year

  • Ethnographic Field Methods
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Sociology of Religion

Senior Year

  • Culture Theory
  • Globalization, Development and Social Change
  • Applied Anthropology


Learn More

Want to find out more about Anthropology at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.