Research Opportunities  

For undergraduate students of anthropology, research opportunities can come in the form of fellowship or scholarship programs, field schools, and internships, paid and non-paid. Here are some ideas of how to go about doing anthropological research:

Research Mentorship  

So you think you might want to do research, but have no idea where to start? Typically, Penn Anthropology students begin their research process by talking to a professor that they really enjoyed in class, taking this opportunity to discuss their interests as well as hear about work the professor is doing. From here, students can work independently on an original idea (apply for funding, participate in an internship, write a thesis, etc.) or seek out mentorship from that faculty member to either work on their own thesis or as a part of a faculty research project (when applicable). If you still aren't sure how to start, email the Undergraduate Coordinator for advising.  

Study Abroad  

The Penn Anthropology undergraduate curriculum is designed to allow students to easily study abroad. In the past students have studied all over the world, including Seville, Spain; Otago, New Zealand; Cairo, Egypt; Shanghai, China; Alicante, Spain; Havana, Cuba...and many more. You should see the undergraduate chair for advice about planning study abroad that will fit with your program and interests, keeping in mind the timing of your Fall semester when you will take the required research seminar ANTH 4000. In addition, realize that not all Penn study abroad programs are in institutions with an Anthropology department and we do not recommend those for anthropology majors who need to earn major electives. About a year before you want to go abroad, you will choose the program(s) you are interested in and apply through Penn Global. Study abroad is managed through the Passport work flow, and you will need a letter of approval from your major advisor. There may also be an additional application process to enter some competitive programs. Our students generally are strong contenders for these programs. We encourage every student to consider the option of study abroad and direct you to contact the office of Penn Abroad with any questions.  

In addition to summer-long and semester-long study abroad programs, you may be interested in Penn Global Seminars, which are regular 1 c.u. courses that include international travel led by a Penn instructor.  Anthropology majors have recently participated in Penn Global Seminars to Greece, Mongolia, South Africa and Israel.

Internships/Fellowships/Field Schools  

Penn Anthropology recommends that each student participate in an internship, fellowship, or field school program before they graduate. With an abundance of fellowship and field school opportunities both on and off campus, every student can benefit from professional work experience. The best student resource when looking for an internships and fellowships is the CURF Research Directory.

Undergraduate Journals and Conferences

Undergraduate journals and conferences are the perfect way for students to fine-tune their professional skills and prepare for post-graduation. In addition to the Penn Anthropology Research Conference (Anthrofest), there are many opportunities for undergraduates outside of Penn; the best resources for relevant information are the National Association of Student Anthropologists Listserv or the Council on Undergraduate Research.


Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Many anthropology research projects involve human research participants, and are therefore subject to review by the Penn Institutional Review Board. You can read more on the Penn IRB website under Guidance for Student Researchers. Penn IRB also offers a Student Guidance Manual. If your research involves human research participants, you must complete the CITI Training for Human Research. Then, you will need to submit your research protocols to the Penn IRB before your project is underway. The IRB offers IRB 101 trainings throughout the year that walk submitters through Penn's submission process. After you submit, the IRB will review your project and request changes, if needed. Research that does not need IRB review may include archaeological projects or those entirely based upon museum collections and/or archives. If unsure, please review the Is IRB Review Required guidance. Contact the Penn IRB with any follow-up questions you may have. 



ScholarlyCommons is a repository for the scholarly output of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. It promotes dissemination of their work, and preserves it in a freely-accessible, long-term archive. ScholarlyCommons allows researchers and other interested readers anywhere in the world to learn about and keep up to date with Penn scholarship. Take a look at the Penn Anthropology archive of senior theses, In Situ (our undergraduate journal), and Anthrofest (our undergraduate research conference).


This page was last updated by Ruth Styles on 6/6/22.