Anthropology Degree Program Information

Anthropology is the study of human culture, society and evolution. Undergraduate anthropology programs provide a general course of study in the subject, while graduate programs focus on researching a specific area of the field.

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Essential Information

A two-year associate degree program in anthropology provides students with a broad introduction to the discipline's theories and practices. Four-year bachelor's degree programs cover skills and concepts, including a survey of early anthropological writing, modern anthropological practice and cultural research methods. Both degree levels require students to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Students in two-year master's or Ph.D. degree programs gain skills in research, analysis and writing that are useful in many career settings, such as academics, business, government and the non-profit sector. These students will need to already have bachelor's degree in a related field and maybe even possess some fieldwork experience before being admitted into the program. These programs can be specialized in archaeology, behavioral science, forensic anthropology, or museum studies. A thesis or dissertation maybe required in these advanced programs.

Associate Degree in Anthropology

An Associate of Arts or Associate of Science in Anthropology serves as a solid foundation for entry into a bachelor's anthropology degree program. Coursework is generally limited to basics of anthropology and general education, such as English composition, history, science and math. Associate degree anthropology courses include:

  • Cultural anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Human development and evolution
  • Behavioral science
  • Statistical analysis

Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology

Bachelor's-level anthropology programs offer either a Bachelor of Arts or, less commonly, Bachelor of Science. Many programs have GPA and SAT minimum requirements in addition to a high school diploma or equivalent. Many anthropology departments require students to take classes in history, a foreign language or the introductory social sciences before being accepted as anthropology majors.

Curricula in anthropology bachelor's degree programs generally focus on a combination of anthropology basics and topics related to a student's own area of interest. Some topics students may choose from include:

  • Forensic anthropology
  • Biological anthropology
  • Anthropological linguistics
  • History of anthropology
  • Anthropological research

Master's Degree in Anthropology

The Master of Arts is generally awarded at this level, and only in rare cases is the Master of Science available. Not all universities require students to have majored in anthropology, but may require them to have taken a certain amount of anthropology and social science coursework during undergraduate study. Some anthropology departments do not offer terminal master's degree programs and award the master's degree as part of the process of earning a doctoral degree.

Master's students are expected to take some core courses, but spend the majority of their time pursuing coursework that relates to their areas of interest. Some common course topics include:

  • Economic anthropology
  • Osteology
  • Contemporary anthropological theory
  • Forensic pathology
  • Museum studies

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Ph.D. in Anthropology

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the terminal academic qualification in the field of anthropology, and is recommended for hopeful professors of anthropology. Some programs award a master's degree as part of the process of earning the doctorate, but others require a master's degree in a related field. The applicant's area of focus may be examined before admission and must generally align with the academic interests of departmental faculty.

Doctoral students choose largely from electives to round out their knowledge and skills and to assist completing dissertations, which involve intensive anthropological study, fieldwork and hands-on research. Potential class topics include:

  • Gender in contemporary cultures
  • Primate behavior and biology
  • Artifact conservation
  • Ethnographic analysis
  • Paleoanthropology

Popular Career Options

Associate degree graduates can find work as:

  • Assistant social workers
  • Human resources managers
  • Museum employees
  • Market researchers

Some examples of potential jobs for recipients of bachelor's degrees in anthropology are:

  • Assistant museum curator
  • Anthropology research assistant
  • Archaeological field worker
  • Journalist
  • Policy analyst

The focus of a master's degree student's anthropological studies may impact their future career track, which might include work in:

  • Non-profit management
  • Museum curation and management
  • Social services consulting
  • High school and community college teaching
  • Forensic investigation

Doctoral graduates may work in the previous institutions, but may also find more academic professions, such as:

  • Think tank residency
  • Academic research and writing
  • College and university teaching
  • Archaeological fieldwork
  • Cultural commentary and critique

There are anthropology programs offered at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. levels. Lower degrees offer training in the broad study of the discipline, while higher level programs focus on hands-on experiences that build the skills needed to conduct anthropological research in academics, business, government and the non-profit sector.

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