The Association Of American Colleges And Universities** contracted with Hart Research Associates to conduct a study to learn more about what employers want their employees to have in terms of education and skills.  From October 27 to November 17, 2009, Hart interviewed 302 employers whose organizations have at least 25 employees and report that 25% or more of their new hires hold either an associate’s degree from a two-year college or a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college. The found that employers want their employees to use a broader set of skills and have higher levels of learning and knowledge than in the past to meet the increasingly complex demands they will face in the workplace. Within this context, to the degree that employers’ emphasis on hiring will be affected by the economic downturn, the shift will be toward greater emphasis on hiring four-year college graduates. What kind of four-year education are they looking for?

Four-field anthropology is education for the social and economic world that we live in today.  A majority of employers believe that colleges should place greater emphasis on a variety of learning outcomes developed through an education in the liberal arts and sciences.  The learning outcomes include the following items as shown with the percentage of respondents reporting that they are essential elements.  These are basic learning outcomes to the Anthropology Program at Marshall University.

Knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world

  • Concepts and new developments in science and technology (70%)
  • The ability to understand the global context of situations and decisions (67%)
  • Global issues and developments and their implications for the future (65%)
  • The role of the United States in the world (57%)
  • Cultural diversity in America and other countries (57%)

Intellectual and practical skills

  • The ability to communicate effectively, orally and in writing (89%)
  • Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills (81%)
  • The ability to analyze and solve complex problems (75%)
  • Teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group settings (71%)
  • The ability to innovate and be creative (70%)
  • The ability to locate, organize, and evaluate information from multiple sources (68%)
  • The ability to work with numbers and understand statistics (63%)

Personal and social responsibility

  • The ability to connect choices and actions to ethical decisions (75%)
  • Civic knowledge, civic participation, and community engagement (52%)

Integrative learning

  • The ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships or other hands-on experiences (79%)

** See the full report and more at the AACU website.


See how the Essential Learning Outcomes for the 21st Century compiled by the American Association of Colleges and Universities are basic to the Anthropology Program at Marshall University.

The Career Development Center at SUNY Plattsburgh developed a document that very effectively highlights what students typically learn from a major in anthropology.  These are clearly knowledge, skills and perspectives that fit well with those sought by employers in a variety of fields.  Employers may not always recognize the particular value of an anthropology degree.  That is why it is important for students to be entrepreneurial about understanding what knowledge, skills and perspectives they have acquired and demonstrating how they can be applied to fulfill the demands of a given position.  Have a look at What can you learn from an Anthropology Major?

What to see examples of what anthropologists are up to in their everyday work?  Looking for an anthropologist near you?  Check out the “This is Anthropology” website from the American Anthropological Association.