Anthropology in India

Nothing in human history is as fascinating as the evolution of human beings from untamable cavemen to the so-called civilized gentlemen of today. Since time immemorial, a number of attempts have been made to track this evolutionary process. The unending quest towards understanding the reality behind societies has led Academicians and theoreticians into tracing the history of civilizations and evolution of technology. And this quest led to the formation of the academic discipline of Anthropology. 

What makes us humans? How are humans different from other species? How did societies come into existence? A million questions pop up when we start thinking about the reasons behind how we became what we are today. And Anthropology is the academic discipline that intends to find the answers.

What is Anthropology?

‘Anthropology is the study of what makes us human. Anthropologists take a broad approach towards understanding the many different aspects of the human experience, which we call holism.’

-American Anthropological association

Anthropology is the scientific and systematic study of civilizations and societies. It not only talks about the human species but also includes all other beings that were or are part of human civilizations. Anthropology as an academic discipline intends to learn about our past and present, the origin of societies and the formation of civilisations by going back and forth in time. 

What do Anthropologists do?

As an anthropologist, you apply your skills and knowledge to explore the origin and development of humans, societies and cultures. An anthropologist scientifically studies humans, early hominids and primates. They examine the present and past biological, archaeological, socio-historical, and socio-cultural aspects of humanity depending on their areas of specialisation. Their researches are oriented towards a better understanding of humanity as a whole.

Sub-fields under Anthropology

Anthropology is a vast academic discipline and includes various subfields such as social and cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, applied anthropology, etc.

Social and Cultural Anthropology

This subfield focuses on the study of society and culture. Social and cultural anthropologists study the origins of societies, the formation of different cultures and collective social behavioural patterns. This branch is closely related to sociology and both the academic disciplines share a lot of overlapping concepts and ideas.

Biological anthropology

This subfield is more about the study of physical and biological factors that goes back to the origins of human species. Biological anthropologists study evolution as a biological and social process along with finding explanations for the existence of different varieties among each species. 

Linguistic Anthropology

What is this about? Languages! That’s obvious from the name. Linguistic anthropologists study history and development of languages, the impact it has on civilizations and societies, etc.


Archaeology is the study of human history. It is all about tracking back the past of civilizations using various techniques such as excavation or exploration. The academic discipline that comes under Anthropology is also the study of human activities through recovery and scientific analysis of materials from the past.

Applied Anthropology

This is where Anthropology is put into use. Applied anthropology focuses on applying anthropology in practical situations to solve real-life problems. 

How to become an Anthropologist?

Step 1: HSE

Though science and commerce students can opt for undergraduate programs in Anthropology, it is recommended to take up the humanities branch. This is mainly because Anthropology is a social science and humanities subject and this choice in the HSE will help you build a strong base in overlapping subjects early on in your career.

BA Anthropology

In India, Anthropology is usually treated as an Arts subject. So, you will mostly find it among BA programs in most reputed institutions in the country. It is a 3-year undergraduate program that equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills to take up a career in the field of Anthropology. Having passed 12th with more than 50 per cent marks is the minimum qualification to apply for this program. Though the course won’t go deep into the subject, it will introduce a student to the subject and also its subfields. 

The curriculum covers subjects such as Social and Cultural Anthropology, Social Research Method, Anthropological Thoughts, Biological Anthropology, Indian Society and Culture, Archeological Anthropology, Comparative Anatomy & Human Evolution, Anthropological Demography, Complex Societies and Urban Development, medial Anthropology, primitive economy and religion, development Anthropology, Gerontology, Physical anthropology, molecular anthropology, etc. 

Many reputed institutions in the country offer BA Anthropology program. Some of them are

  • University Of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  • University Of Madras, Chennai
  • ST. Xavier’S College, Mumbai
  • Ashoka University, Sonepat
  • University Of Lucknow, Lucknow
  • NEW Arts, Commerce And Science College, Ahmed Nagar

The admissions to most institutions that offer this program are through direct recruitment on the basis of academic records or through national level entrance test. Anyway, no reputed college will charge you too much for this course. Usually, the course fee ranges from Rs 1-2 lakh. The fee in government institutions is lower than this. 

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MA Anthropology

This is a 2-year post-graduate program in Anthropology. Unlike BA programs, the postgraduate course goes deeper into the subjects and its subfields. The course will help a student gain a strong theoretical base and also teaches techniques and practices in the field. An undergraduate degree from a reputed institution is the minimum requirement to apply for MA Anthropology programs. The curriculum covers subjects such as Social Anthropology, Archaeological Anthropology, Physical Anthropology, Tools & Technique of Anthropological Research, Rural communities and Peasant Society, Field Work and Field Report, Applied Anthropology, Visual Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, Economic and Political Anthropology, etc. 

Even for a post-graduate program, you won’t have to break your banks. Most institutions offer this course for a nominal fee. The average course fee ranges from Rs 1 lakh to 2 lakh. Again, you will find the course at a much cheaper fee if you are going for a government institution. Many prestigious institutions in the country offer postgraduate programs in Anthropology. Some of those institutions are. 

  • Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi
  • University Of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  • University Of Allahabad, Allahabad
  • University Of Madras, Chennai
  • Pondicherry University, Pondicherry
  • Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  • University Of Rajasthan, Jaipur

What to do with an Anthropology degree?

After completing your studies in Anthropology, you can either choose to continue in the academic field or start working in other related fields. The most common choice after post-graduate programs in Anthropology is to go for research. Those who choose this route end up as social scientists and theorists. They are hired by research institutions, NGOs, government agencies, educational institutions, etc. Anthropological Survey of India is one of such institutions that recruit qualified Anthropologists. Several other government institutions and international organisations like UNICEF, UN, UNESCO, WHO also hire anthropologists. But getting there is never going to be easy. 

If not research, the next most popular choice among Anthropology graduates is teaching. As we all know, schools don’t have Anthropology as a subject. So, you should start at the college level. The minimum qualification to teach in a higher education institution is to clear UGC NET.

The list is not done yet. There are many other options outside the academic field. They get hired in sectors such as information technology, art galleries, museums, publishing houses, libraries, etc. Few of them are Curators, Archivists, cultural resource managers, linguists, tour guides, etc. One can also choose to become an archaeologist if they specialise in archaeology for post graduation. 


So, that’s it folks. I believe we were able to cover all the important things about a career in anthropology. If you have any further doubts, feel free to contact us using the free chat service. The link is right below this article.

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