At the heart of anthropological practice is the process of posing meaningful questions, planning research, collecting and analyzing data or other materials, and coming up with an original contribution to knowledge. The Department of Anthropology encourages undergraduate students to engage in research in a variety of settings: in their courses, in work as research assistants, and in guided inquiries of their own—often leading to a senior essay. Past student research projects have taken place in international settings, in many parts of the United States—including in New Haven—and in the collections and laboratories at Yale, both in and well beyond the department’s own facilities. In a number of cases, our students have gone on to publish, present, and/or exhibit their innovative anthropological work.
This page offers a set of resources for undergraduates wishing to pursue research in anthropology, whether or not they are declared anthropology majors. Students should also spend some time familiarizing themselves with general undergraduate research resources, as no single listing can capture the full spread of research possibilities in such a wide-ranging field as Anthropology.
Although many courses include a component of research, some of our regular undergraduate offerings are specifically designed to introduce students to the methods, ethics, and practice of research in Anthropology. These courses may be particularly useful for students planning senior essays.
303 Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology
316 Introduction to Archaeological Lab Sciences
376-7 Observing and Measuring Behavior, I and II
394-5 Methods and Research in Molecular Anthropology, I and II
434 Anthro-History: Interdisciplinary Theory and Methods
454 Statistics for Archaeological Analysis
Methods courses in other departments may also be highly relevant and useful.
Working as a Research Assistant
Some faculty in Anthropology employ undergraduate research assistants in a variety of capacities. If you are interested in this possibility, consider speaking to your professor after class or consult with the DUS.
The Anthropology Department offers a wide variety of possibilities for senior work. Students contemplating significant independent research leading to a senior essay should consult with the DUS and/or a potential adviser well in advance of their senior year to take advantage of the fullest set of options. Junior year study abroad that includes a research component, a summer field school, or summer independent research, for instance, require significant advance planning. The following resources may also be of help.
Suggestions for Funding Sources
Many Yale-based sources of funding commonly used by anthropology undergraduates can be found by searching Yale’s Student Grants and Fellowships Database, the Office of Fellowship Programs, and/or the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.
In addition, the Anthropology Department is fortunate to be able to offer a number of grants to support attendance at archaeological field schools through Albers and Coe Fellowships. Check here for information on international field schools and archaeological projects.
Many of our students combine research projects with a semester abroad. Although most study abroad programs are not explicitly designed for supporting research, a research component can often be added in consultation with a faculty adviser.
In addition to the above sources, College Deans are wonderful sources of information about little known programs and resources.
Students should consult with their advisers about what kind of training, advance review, and/or other preparation is necessary to carry out the research they are planning. Useful resources include the following: