Digital Anthropology Education and Training Program Information

Oct 19, 2019

The rare field of digital anthropology can be studied at the master's degree level in majors such as visual anthropology and digital archiving. Using a variety of technical formats, students learn how to archive historical information.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs that train students to use new technology to document cultural artifacts and practices can be offered in the fields of visual anthropology, digital ethnography, ethnographic documentary, information science and information architecture.

Applicants to such programs must have an undergraduate degree in any field, letters of recommendation and admission essays. GRE scores may also be required.

These programs take 1-2 years to complete, and students usually work with advisors to determine a plan of study that meets their career goals. Most of the courses involve hands-on learning, and a final project is usually required.


Master's Degree in Visual Anthropology

Graduate students in visual anthropology degree programs learn to archive and preserve cultures by applying principles of documentary and cinema studies to the documentation of cultures. Students in graduate-level visual anthropology programs use digital video, as well as digital modeling of archaeological sites, to virtually preserve dig sites and cultural trends or anomalies. In these programs, students may also conduct research on specific cultures by documenting trends and events through the use of video. After filming, students edit a cohesive portrayal of their subjects.

Common course topics include the following:

  • Anthropological theory
  • Documentary techniques
  • Ethnographic films
  • Media production
  • Video editing

Master's Degree in Digital Archiving

Digital archivists investigate the past using new technology. Those interested in a career in digital archiving of material culture may pursue relevant master's degrees in information science and information architecture. The constantly changing nature of technology means that maintaining a long-term, researchable digital archive requires knowledge of different technical formats and a commitment to maintaining archive usability. Programs in digital information teach students to deal with technical, economic, structural and legal issues related to archiving works.

Common course topics include the following:

  • Archive administration
  • Data preservation
  • Electronic publishing
  • Human-computer interactions
  • Information organization
  • Systems analysis

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Popular Career Options

Jobs within the visual anthropology and digital archivist fields are found at educational institutions, museums, film festivals, libraries and film archives. Job titles available to master's degree program graduates include the following:

  • Archivist
  • Media collection manager
  • Preservationist
  • Print trafficker
  • Researcher

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of archivists was projected to increase 9% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2018, archivists earned a median salary of $52,240 per year, according to the BLS.

BLS reports show that jobs for anthropologists and archaeologists were predicted to grow 10% from 2018-2028. Anthropologists and archaeologists earned a median salary of $62,410 per year as of May 2018.

Continuing Education

Doctoral programs for individuals interested in studying visual studies and ethnography do exist. Ph.D. students can work with advisors to tailor coursework to suit their research interests in areas including digital ethnography or digital anthropological site preservation. Individuals interested in digital archiving are able to study library and information sciences at the doctoral level. Ph.D. students are able to focus their research on areas of interest, like digital archives and digital humanities.

The field of digital anthropology can be studied at the master's degree level through specializations in visual anthropology and digital archiving, among others. These programs prepare individuals for future study or careers related to archiving and research.

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