By BVS Staff
Welcome to our ranking of the 20 best small colleges for sociology and anthropology majors on a budget.
Each of these top schools has a minimum of three relevant programs* for students seeking a bachelor’s degree in sociology, anthropology or a related area (including but not limited to archaeology, cultural anthropology, social science, and urban studies). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also have to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education – which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $35,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable small college for sociology and anthropology degrees? Scroll down to #1 to find out!
*For this ranking in particular, each top school had to offer both sociology and anthropology degrees to be eligible for consideration.
For more information on the methodology, click here.
20. Dickinson College
Dickinson College is home to several purpose-built facilities that help make it one of the best small colleges for anthropology and archaeology. The Keck Biological Anthropology Lab features tools, equipment, and other useful implements for anthropology students, and the Dickinson Environmental Archaeology Lab provides a cutting-edge facility for archaebotanical analysis. One of the school’s coolest features is the Simulated Excavation Field at the Keck, which provides a realistic dig simulation that includes reconstructed ruins and even physical remains. This facility is unlike any other in the world and should make Dickinson a top pick for any student looking to dig into archaeology.
Net Price: $34,079/yr
19. Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, PA
With six different programs touching on anthropology, sociology, and archaeology, Bryn Mawr boasts one of the most varied curricula of any school on this sociology programs ranking. Those drawn to digs will appreciate the Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology department, while Sociology students will be able to choose from a number of unusual programs (including an interdisciplinary Growth and Structure of Cities major). Perhaps the best feature of Bryn Mawr’s approach is that the school encourages students to sample courses from other disciplines — an especially tempting prospect considering the wide number of programs on offer.
Net Price: $32,630/yr
18. St. Lawrence College
The St. Lawrence website encourages students to “see how many creative ways [they] can meet our requirements.” As such, the college offers a host of undergraduate majors and minors to facilitate this challenge. But with sociology classes like The Web in Real Life, Cults and New Religious Movements, and China’s Market Transition, sociology majors might not need to go outside of their subject to find something interesting. St. Lawrence also offers five unusual community-based learning courses as a part of its top undergraduate sociology program, which enable students to learn and earn college credit while engaging in community service projects.
Net Price: $31,010/yr
17. The College of Wooster
All students at Wooster undertake an independent study project in their senior year, which the school sees as an essential part of its focus on undergraduate research. Similar in some ways to a thesis, this requirement provides an opportunity for students to dig into a specific interest area and get a little experience with graduate-level work. In the past, anthropology majors have used this time to investigate such topics as college dating behavior, working mothers, and the academic records of student athletes. Along with the school’s many other perks, this research-oriented approach to learning makes Wooster one of the best small colleges for sociology and anthropology majors – especially those who plan to earn a master’s or doctoral degree.
Net Price: $28,038/yr
16. Connecticut College
New London, CT
While many schools think internships are only important for career-focused programs like business, Connecticut College begs to differ. In fact, CC makes on-the-job learning available to undergrads of all majors – and even provides $3,000 stipends to help assist with internship costs. This level of support is one of the primary attractions for anthropology students, who can apply for international internships in Argentina, Ghana, Switzerland, and many other countries. In addition to a top anthropology undergraduate program, CC also boasts a strong set of interdisciplinary certificates, including one available through the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. By earning a certificate, both sociology and anthropology majors can expand their knowledge in multiple subject areas without adding years to their graduation timeline.
Net Price: $27,417/yr
15. Pitzer College
Pitzer’s affordable anthropology undergraduate program features two separate but interwoven tracks — the more theoretical social and cultural anthropology concentration, and the more field-based biological anthropology and archaeology focus. Although many of the best small colleges for anthropology and archaeology offer both programs, Pitzer is fairly unusual in having the support of another school — nearby Scripps College — in building out its degree. The Pitzer-Scripps Anthropology Program provides the opportunity to pursue either the Sociocultural or Human Evolution, Prehistory and Material Culture track, or combine both for a particularly rigorous academic program. The latter option also allows students to build a customized course of study that incorporates their specific interests in each field.
Net Price: $26,288/yr
14. Trinity University
San Antonio, TX
Trinity maintains a list of nearly 100 study abroad opportunities, many of which are ideal complements to the school’s top undergraduate sociology program. Sociology majors can visit Senegal for a Language and Culture program; Vietnam for a Culture, Social Change, and Development training program; or a number of other sites in India, Japan, Denmark, Turkey, and many other countries. Trinity strongly encourages its sociology majors to take advantage of the chance to study other nations – or to simply get a change of scenery – and even facilitates domestic experiences at other colleges in the US. Like many of the schools on this list, Trinity sees studying abroad as a vital element of a sociology education — but Trinity does more than most to support that endeavor.
Net Price: $26,165/yr
13. Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, NY
Skidmore’s tight-knit Sociology department is a big part of what earns the school a spot on this top sociology programs ranking. The department newsletter, regular gatherings, and the bonding experience of the school’s demanding Senior Seminar all combine to help undergrads form friendships that will last long after graduation. Perhaps the other biggest perk of attending Skidmore is its catalog of interesting, albeit atypical, courses – especially for sociology majors. Although few are as exciting as “Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media” (from the 2014 course catalog), the school continues to pique students’ interests with novel classes like Race and Power, Quantifying Women, and The Sociology of Folklore.
Net Price: $24,038/yr
12. Trinity College
Trinity College has relationships with two local non-profit organizations that provide terrific internship opportunities for students interested in the intersection of anthropology and health. Both Hartford’s Hispanic Health Council and the Institute for Community Research do work on issues of health and disease in cities, focusing particularly on the role of culture. And because over half of undergrads at this affordable small college for sociology and anthropology majors engage in internships, students shouldn’t have any trouble working such opportunities into their coursework. To supplement these real-life experiences, classes like Medical Anthropology and Anthropology and Global Health impart a solid theoretical understanding of important issues in human health.
Net Price: $23,980/yr
11. Barnard College
New York, NY
Barnard has the distinct advantage of a close relationship with Columbia University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the country. Barnard’s archaeology and anthropology departments are definitely beneficiaries of this collaboration, with plenty of faculty sharing duties between these two distinguished schools. But Barnard’s Columbia connection isn’t the only factor that makes it one of the best small colleges for anthropology and archaeology. The school also offers a suite of grants to support research and fieldwork, plenty of study abroad opportunities, and some especially unusual courses (including “Sorcery and Magic” and “Pirates, Boys, and Capitalism”).
Net Price: $23,741/yr
10. North Central College
For those who can’t choose between sociology and anthropology, North Central College in Naperville, Illinois offers a double major that covers both fields. The affordable undergraduate sociology program also includes a few optional concentrations (in criminal justice, community studies, and general sociology) while the anthropology major puts a strong focus on studying abroad. Students pursuing the latter degree can also dig into a number of sub-disciplines, like archaeology or language and linguistics, and Chicago’s Field Museum is a common internship choice. One unusual feature of North Central College is its trimester schedule, which includes three 10-week terms.
Net Price: $23,565/yr
9. Bowdoin College
Seafood lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will find a happy home at Bowdoin College, which is located in Brunswick, Maine and provides exciting opportunities for student research in the surrounding areas. Past anthropology majors have studied the state’s traditional boat-building community, Northern Maine’s potato industry, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House (which Bowdoin actually owns). But this top small college for anthropology and archaeology also works with other departments to enable students to gain a broader perspective. For example, the African Studies department offers courses on the African-American experience like Race, Biology, and Anthropology and Race and Ethnicity.
Net Price: $23,156/yr
8. Augustana College
Rock Island, IL
No school on this sociology programs ranking is more focused on the topic of ethnic and cultural tolerance than Augustana College, which is home to a designated Center for the Study of Pluralism. Augustana’s chair of the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Welfare department runs this unique facility, which brings well-known speakers to campus, supports student research, and provides a supportive workspace for researchers investigating these topics. Augustana’s sociology catalog also provides plenty of courses to complement the Center, covering topics like immigration, American race and ethnic relations, and gender relations.
Net Price: $22,715/yr
7. Millsaps College
The archaeology program at Millsaps is one of the best in the country, which is an especially impressive superlative considering the school’s relatively small size. The department is particularly well-known for its work in the ancient Mayan city of Kiuic, where Millsaps students helped make discoveries that have led to a radical rethinking of previous ideas about Mayan history (not to mention a National Geographic documentary). This top small college for anthropology and archaeology punches far above its weight, providing its students with unique opportunities to explore some of the hottest digs in the world.
Net Price: $22,512/yr
6. Wesleyan University
Wesleyan is the largest school on this sociology programs ranking, and as such this Connecticut institution offers an incredibly broad range of options. The anthropology major, for example, gives students the option to pursue one of ten separate concentrations in subject areas as specific as “Producing and Consuming Culture” and “Embodiment and Biopolitics.” The archaeology major is similarly varied, with four separate tracks that provide an incredibly deep dive into particular subject areas. The Art History track, for example, covers everything from the archaeology of food to the art of Anglo-Saxon England. Wesleyan’s multitude of specialization options and attractive price point make it one of the best small colleges for anthropology and archaeology in the country.
Net Price: $22,257/yr
5. Hamilton College
Hamilton College is a liberal arts institution that traces its roots back to the 18th century. Throughout its rich history, Hamilton has supported traditional, humanities-oriented academics that give students considerable freedom to indulge their curiosities. The school’s “open curriculum” system enables every undergraduate to work closely with a faculty advisor and to build a set of classes that fits his or her interests. This freedom – which makes it possible to explore anthropology, archaeology, and sociology topics within a single degree – is a big part of what makes Hamilton one of the best small colleges for sociology and anthropology majors in the country. Students also benefit from the Hamilton Senior Program, in which they pursue research on a topic of their choosing under the advisement of two departmental faculty.
Net Price: $21,907/yr
4. Swarthmore College
Swarthmore combines its affordable anthropology undergraduate program with the sociology department, giving students the option to jump between the two fields and the multitude of courses that each major offers. In addition to dozens of classes that fall into one field or the other, Swarthmore provides a set of courses that straddle both, like “Race, Gender, Class and Environment” and “Dancing Desire in Bollywood Films.” In addition, both sociology and anthropology professors teach intro-level courses, which means incoming freshmen will have the privilege of learning from experts in multiple fields.
Net Price: $21,580/yr
3. Vassar College
Those interested in the intersection of culture and environment will appreciate Vassar’s geography-anthropology interdisciplinary major. This unique program combines the two social sciences to provide a perspective on both, and a degree unlike any other on this list of affordable small colleges for anthropology and archaeology. Vassar encourages students who choose this option to pursue either fieldwork or study abroad experience, and it facilitates the former through a Field World Office that helps place students in for-credit positions over the summer. Those opportunities usually center in Poughkeepsie and the Mid-Hudson Valley and include organizations like the Dutchess County Historical Society.
Net Price: $21,265/yr
2. Haverford College
Teaching how to “do sociology” is the goal of Haverford College’s top undergraduate sociology program – an approach that distinguishes the school from others that focus more on theory than practice. Haverford’s well-developed program also includes a number of interdisciplinary concentrations, including Peace, Justice, and Human Rights and Middle East and Islamic Studies. In addition to courses at Haverford, sociology majors have access to classes at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania and can earn course credit from those institutions (with permission from the department). The depth of Haverford’s offerings, plus its relationships with other well-regarded schools, make it a great option for those who want to study more esoteric areas of sociology.
Net Price: $21,056/yr
1. University of Minnesota-Morris
As the most affordable school on this sociology programs ranking, UM Morris already has a distinct advantage in attracting applicants. But UM’s strong focus on research makes it a top choice for any student regardless of budgetary concerns. The most prominent example of this focus is the Morris Academic Partnership program, which gives exceptional undergrads the opportunity to pursue research under the advisement of a faculty member (and with the benefit of a stipend). In addition, the school encourages sociology majors to attend conferences, contribute to faculty papers, and even perform first-hand research of their own. Few other universities have such a research-friendly environment for sociology – especially not at UM Morris’s incredibly affordable price.
Net Price: $13,352/yr
Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable small college sociology programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education’s Net Price Calculator Center.