The University of Massachusetts Amherst

About Our Department

The Anthropology Department is a place of research, new ideas, innovative teaching, public engagement, and a lot of hands-on learning.  Students are encouraged to challenge conventional thinking, design their education, and to use what they learn to offer new perspectives on how we can respond to our present challenges.

We advance innovative thinking that integrates knowledge from the different subfields of anthropology (archaeology, linguistic anthropology, cultural, and biological anthropology).  Nationally, we are especially known for research in the anthropology of Europe, indigenous and Afro-diasporic archaeology, community-based research methods, and for leading the way in developing a biocultural perspective on human adaptation and adaptability, enhanced by a strong foundation in political economy.

In our scholarship and teaching, we are committed to respectful engagement with communities past and present, and fostering innovative forms of community-based research.  Our Department and the University as a whole is committed to building respectful and lasting relationships with Native American tribes and to meeting our legal, moral and ethical obligations to return all human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony that tribes wish to repatriate. See the University’s policy and protocols regarding The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

Here are some of the distinctive features of our Undergraduate and Graduate programs offer:

Experiential Learning

Our undergraduate and graduate students get their hands dirty—whether it is learning how to build a Native American birch bark canoe, excavating a historic site, or collaborating with community organizations for social justice across the Pioneer Valley and beyond. We’re passionate about hands-on experience, and students have numerous opportunities to work and study in the field. Our small class sizes give students personalized attention so they can fine-tune the skills they’ll take to the workforce and beyond.


Our flexible program allows students to design their own focus. We offer a wide range of courses in all of the sub-specialties of anthropology:  archaeology, bio-archaeology, socio-cultural, linguistic, and biological anthropology. We encourage students to combine coursework from these different fields to explore topics from multiple angles. See our special interdisciplinary tracks in Health and the Body; Native American and Indigenous Studies; and Inequality, Race and Social Justice.

Renowned Faculty

Our faculty are renowned for their research and innovations in all the subfields of anthropology. Faculty work closely with students through exciting research projects, lab-work, field schools, internships, and numerous hands-on activities.  We have leading scholars in evolutionary anthropology, making new discoveries about how we have evolved as a species and the behavior of our closest primate relatives. Others are examining language diversity, the legacies of colonialism, cultural heritage, health and disease in cross-cultural perspectives, how communities create sustainable economies, and kinship and family life in a global world. 

UMass Anthropology faculty have the additional distinction of being nationally known leaders in developing community-based and participatory research methods that seek to make a positive impact on communities and issues of public concern. We now have a new accelerated master’s in Community Based Research and Practice.

Learn more about faculty members' research, grants, and publications.

Strong Alumni Network

As a UMass graduate, you’re connected to a robust and engaged alumni network. You’ll benefit from peer support, career connections, and mentoring opportunities. Across the country and the globe, our graduates are engaged in groundbreaking work that changes how we understand our world.

Learn more about our undergraduate and graduate programs.