Cultural Anthropology PhD Programs: Degree Overviews

Ph.D. programs in cultural anthropology offer intensive and advanced training. Students explore the evolution of language and the role of outside forces in the progression of humans.

Essential Information

Cultural anthropology is the global study of human customs, cultures and relationships throughout history. A Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology program helps prepare individuals to continue these evolving studies, most often by conducting research or shaping future anthropologists through postsecondary education. These programs typically require applicants to hold a master's degree and to speak a foreign language. Writing samples and letters of recommendations are also often required. Possible program specializations include international development, globalization, gender and sexuality, culture, religion, human ecology, racial constructs, post-colonialism, and history and memory. Students typically teach and travel as they complete fieldwork and training, and they might write and publish papers based on their findings.

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Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology

Doctoral programs in cultural anthropology focus heavily on fieldwork, research and essays or other professional papers. Many universities have large anthropology departments with a variety of course offerings to prepare individuals for professional careers in research or teaching, as well as for non-academic careers, such as community development, urban planning and heritage management. Class titles might include:

  • Nationalism and ethnicity
  • Anthropology and government policy
  • International development
  • Evolutionary anthropology
  • Linguistics
  • Advanced study in culture theory

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Holding a Ph.D. puts an individual in a good place if he or she is looking to teach at a college or university. In May 2013, the mean salary for postsecondary anthropology teachers was $83,190 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicted a 13% increase in job growth for postsecondary teachers between 2014 and 2024 as current teachers retire and more young people head to college, which was about the same as the average rate for all jobs. Having a Ph.D. might also help an individual advance into school administration (

Another field for those with a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology is a career as an anthropologist. For the period spanning 2014-2024, the BLS predicted a slower than average job growth (4%) for anthropologists. The mean salary for an anthropologist was $61,220 per year in May 2015.

Students in a cultural anthropology Ph.D. program will research specific areas related to human culture and civilization. A cultural anthropology Ph.D. is a great way to pursue a career as an anthropologist or archaeologist, as well as a postsecondary anthropology teacher.

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