Anthropology vs Sociology

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 14, 2022  •  6 min read  •  Education
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Are you trying to choose between anthropology and sociology? Maybe you’re not that far yet, but you’re curious about these two fields of study. A closer look at both is necessary.

Anthropology and sociology are very important fields of study. Regardless of which you choose, you will help experts understand how people interact and humanity, in general.

Before you make your decision, it’s best to gain a basic understanding of anthropology and sociology. You should also understand the differences. Let’s look at both a bit closer and how they are different.

What is Anthropology?

The study of present and historic human behaviors is known as anthropology. When you become an anthropologist, you will likely spend time searching for evidence of how humans behaved in a specific community. This information will also be studied by an anthropologist.

Types of Courses an Anthropologist Will Take

When you decide you want to study anthropology, you will take many courses in areas, such as:

You will take these courses, and many others, if you decide to go into anthropology.

What is Sociology?

According to the Department of Sociology at UNC, sociology “is the study of human social relationships and institutions.” When you become a sociologist, you will use data and analysis to gather information about a society and conduct assessments. You will look at the impact living in a society may have on a member of that society as a sociologist. This field studies the society at large, instead of just the individuals.

Types of Courses a Sociologist Will Take

If you decide to go into sociology, you will take courses on many topics including:

There are many courses you will take in these areas if you go into sociology.

Anthropology vs Sociology: The Main Differences

While anthropology and sociology are similar in some ways, they are also rather different. Let’s look at a few of the key differences you will find between the two.

Career Options

You can gain a rewarding career in anthropology and sociology. However, the career opportunities are rather different in both areas. It’s common to work in the public sector, for the government, or for a nonprofit organization with both of these fields of study.

However, anthropologists tend to work in research positions for private employers more often. It’s also more common for an anthropologist to work for a university or museum. Sociologists, on the other hand, commonly work for nonprofit organizations.

it’s not uncommon for those studying anthropology to work as a freelance research consultant. Sociologists with a Ph.D. will commonly work for a public policy organization or even a research consultant. They may also work as a demographer or as an administrator for a nonprofit.


You will take courses that have to do with qualitative assessments of communities and social theory in either field of study. However, the programs offered at universities are rather different.

If you study anthropology, you will take courses covering cultures and language, along with archeology and the study of historic civilization. These courses will provide the foundation you need to gain a job in this field of study.

Going into sociology will mean courses in quantitative analysis including statistics. You will also take courses in social classes and cultural identities. With these courses, you will gain the foundation you need to work in sociology.

While you can find some jobs with just a bachelor’s degree in either field of study, an advanced degree opens far more doors. With an advanced degree, you can find more work in the public sector, along with government work.

Gaining a Ph.D. in one of these areas will allow you to become a professor at the college level. However, the majority of opportunities are not found in academia for PhDs. Most will work outside of academia in the public sector for large organizations, such as UNESCO or World Bank. They may also work for a large cultural institution, such as the Smithsonian.

Research Methods

Another difference between anthropology and sociology is the type of research method used. Both will often use ethnography, which is the full examination of a society or group done with quotative or qualitative methods. However, anthropologists look at historical communities and use more qualitative data. A sociologist will put a higher priority on the quantitative data and make complex comparisons.

Regardless of which you choose, anthropology and sociology can be very rewarding areas of study. With an advanced degree, you can open up many career options, including teaching. There are many benefits to both fields of study and they are rather similar.

However, the differences may be enough for you to choose one over the other. Choosing between anthropology and sociology really comes down to which area of study you prefer. There is no wrong choice between these two areas of study.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.