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Master's Degree in Anthropology: Program Overview

Oct 11, 2019

Anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of human societies from cultural, historical and biological perspectives. Interested students may obtain a Master of Arts or Master of Science in Anthropology in 1-2 years at a university.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer master's degree programs in anthropology. A bachelor's degree is required for admission to the program. If the bachelor's degree is not in anthropology, students must have completed courses in biology and the social sciences. A proficiency in a language other than English may be required as well.

The master's degree program can be completed in 1-2 years of full-time study. Students may be allowed to choose a focus area such as biological, social or cultural anthropology, and they may have the option of an internship in the field. Developing research skills is a prime focus of a master's program in anthropology. Students learn about quantitative reasoning as used in research and work on research projects. They may have to complete a thesis.


Master's Degree in Anthropology

Anthropology programs typically have core requirements in archaeology. Electives may correspond to concentration options that focus more closely on archaeology, society, ecology or the environment. Students are trained to apply quantitative reasoning and research and laboratory methods to anthropological study. Specific topics vary widely and focus on languages, Mayan cultures and history, Caribbean cultures, Latin America, iconography, tourism, nutrition and ethnography. Master's degree programs may be offered as thesis or non-thesis track options. Thesis track programs require students to conduct research and complete a thesis or research paper, while non-thesis track students may need to pass a comprehensive examination instead. Common topics of study include:

  • The ancient Mayans
  • Anthropological and archaeological theory
  • Ecological and forensic anthropology
  • Ethnographic research and language
  • Human prehistory and pedagogy and culture
  • Osteology

Popular Career Choices

According to the American Anthropological Association, students with a master's degree in anthropology pursue careers in academia or government (www.aaanet.org). Possible career titles include:

  • Archaeology contractor
  • Museum staff member
  • Social science researcher

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

During the years 2018 to 2028, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 10% increase in employment for anthropologists and archaeologists, and it expects a 10% job growth for museum curators. Additionally, the BLS reports an annual median salary of $62,410 for anthropologists and archaeologists, and a median salary of $53,780 for curators, in May 2018.

Continuing Education Info

After obtaining a master's degree, students can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Anthropology. Ph.D. programs include advanced research opportunities and the completion of a dissertation; they give students the necessary training to apply for jobs in academia and higher education.

Students with a bachelor's degree who wish to pursue advanced graduate work in anthropology or archaeology should first consider applying to an anthropology master's program. These programs will allow students to perform more intensive research in specific cultural, social and biological aspects of human lives and societies.

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