Online Anthropology Degrees: Program Options

Research online anthropology degree programs. Find out what you can learn in these programs and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

Anthropology degree programs are not commonly available in an online format, but there are a few associate's and bachelor's degree programs that can be completed through distance learning. Online master's degree programs are rarer, and online PhD programs in anthropology are not likely to exist solely through online work . Some campus-based anthropology programs may offer a small selection of courses that can be completed online. A proficiency test may be required to enter into one of these programs. A relevant undergraduate degree is required for entry to a graduate program.

There are a couple anthropology associate's degree programs that can be completed fully online, and graduates may be able to transfer to a bachelor's degree program. At the bachelor's degree level, programs are usually offered in general anthropology, but there is at least one online program focused on the specialty field of cultural anthropology. Students may be able to complete their major without visiting campus, though some programs allow them to enroll for campus-based classes if they would like a wider selection.

Additionally, at least one master's degree program in anthropology can also be taken online. While coursework requirements can be completed from home, graduate students may be required to attend short campus residencies for program orientation and thesis presentations. Proctored testing may also be required.

Anthropology Associate's Degree

Students of online associate's degree programs in anthropology are introduced to the study of human patterns, history, culture and geography. Studies also concentrate on the history of civilization in different geographical locations. Prerequisites may include passing proficiency tests in the humanities, mathematics and the sciences, and specific courses may have additional requirements. Graduates are awarded an Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Anthropology.

Program Information and Requirements

Online anthropology associate's programs generally consist of about 90 units of coursework including general education, core anthropology and elective classes. They take approximately two years of full-time attendance to complete. All coursework, communication, meetings and assignments are completed online. Testing is completed either online or through an approved proctor.

Most classes do not have scheduled times of attendance; however, in most schools there are specific start and end dates for each course and students must log in to college systems a minimum number of times per week.

An online educational delivery system is used, and students must access it through a personal computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Schools provide students with an individual access ID to use for accessing the system while enrolled in the program.

Course Topics

Online associate's degree programs in anthropology follow the same guidelines as on-campus programs, requiring general education, core and elective coursework. Physical, cultural and historical classes related to anthropology are common to all programs.

Physical Anthropology

This class introduces the theory of evolution and the development of primates and humans. Students also use approaches from paleoanthropology, biology, archeology and geology to learn about the roles physical characteristics, behavior and genetics play in human development.

Cultural Anthropology

Human sociocultural concepts, methods and theories are introduced. The course examines themes of change, inequality, ethnicity, gender, political organization, languages and subsistence.

Lost Civilizations

This course uses evidence from archeology to reconstruct prehistorical civilizations. . Students use different methods to explore urbanization, domestication, societies and civilization and also learn to interpret the results of archeological findings.

Anthropology Bachelor's Degree

Online bachelor's degree programs study both the humanistic and scientific aspects of anthropology in depth. Students also acquire skills in communication, critical thinking and group work. There are usually no educational prerequisites beyond a high school diploma, but those with previous college coursework may be eligible for advanced standing with less requirements for course completion. In some programs, students choose a track to earn either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Some colleges also offer minors in anthropology to supplement degree programs in other fields.

Program Information and Requirements

Depending on a student's current level of education, bachelor's degree programs in anthropology take from two to four years to complete online. Students in online programs often have advisors who help them develop course enrollment plans. All registration, materials, attendance and meetings are completed via the Internet.

Most programs use an online course delivery system and provide students with a university e-mail address to use for program-related correspondence. Student services and library resources are available via a personal computer and the Web.

Course Topics

Bachelor's-degree-level coursework in anthropology explores cultures, history, archeology and civilization. Additional requirements for the B.A. degree include more liberal arts studies, while a B.S. degree program requires more in the area of science.

Archeology Fundamentals

Archeological theory, fieldwork and laboratory assignments are the focus of this class. Students also learn fundamental principles in palaeoethnography, typology, excavation, surveying and chronological analysis.

Anthropology in Human Culture

This course explores the religious, political, economic and family systems of human culture. Languages and technology are also studied in relation to human capabilities and various world cultures.

Conflict in Developing Nations

This class studies conflicts in several developing geographical locations. The class focuses on analyzing the effects of rapid social and technological changes in different populations.

Anthropology Master's Degree

Master's degree-level studies in anthropology focus on advanced casework and research studies. Both Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) tracks in applied anthropology are available. Students may also choose optional specialty tracks such as migration and border studies, environmental and ecological anthropology, business anthropology, medical anthropology or anthropology in education. To be eligible for admission, students must possess a bachelor's degree, preferably with prior anthropology studies. Applications may require that students provide transcripts, graduate record examination scores, and letters of recommendation. They often need to submit a writing sample and statement of purpose and meet a grade point average (GPA) requirement for entry consideration.

Program Information and Requirements

Depending on the master's degree track and specialty chosen, these programs may take two to three years to complete. Students usually have the option of enrolling on a part-time or full-time basis, though in some programs only full-time students are eligible for financial aid. All courses are generally available online, but some schools have occasional attendance requirements for events such as an orientation or culminating presentation.

The online program includes a virtual community where students and faculty communicate and interact throughout the program. E-mail is also used for communication. Students also have access to a help desk for technical support via phone, e-mail or website communication.

Course Topics

Coursework in master's degree programs focuses on current research methods, prevailing theories and advanced cultural studies in anthropology. A capstone project demonstrating acquired research skills may also be required.

Sociocultural Anthropology

The differences and common areas in human culture are surveyed and explored in this class. Advanced studies emphasizing sociocultural aspects are examined according to students' individual interests.

Qualitative and Ethnographic Methods

Students learn how to use qualitative techniques in anthropological data collection, analysis, computer programs, grant writing and research. Ethical problems and ethnographic methods in the practice of anthropology are also explored.

Quantitative Methods

This class teaches statistical research and testing skills in anthropology. Design, sampling, scaling, reliability, validity, significance and association are the topics of concentration.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for anthropologists and archeologists was $61,220 in May of 2015. The BLS also reported that advanced degrees in the specialty provided more employment opportunities (

In 2015, the BLS reported that a bachelor's degree in anthropology provided entry-level job opportunities in occupations such as research assistant or laboratory technician: however, positions were limited for undergraduates, with opportunities being more plentiful for holders of master's or doctoral degrees. The BLS also reported that bachelor's degree holders may qualify for teaching positions at the elementary, middle school and high school levels (

According to the BLS, employment for anthropologists and archeologists, was expected to grow by 4% between 2014 and 2024. Also reported by the BLS in 2015, master's degree graduates were qualified for jobs in areas other than universities and colleges, but some positions did require a Ph.D. for employment in the field (

Continuing Education Information

Ph.D. degree programs are available in anthropology; however, not in a completely online format. Students of Ph.D. programs typically must attend on-campus lab and lectures, as well as perform research and fieldwork in different anthropological settings.

The GIS (Geography Information Systems) Certification Institute (GISCI) offers voluntary certification that may enhance professional credibility. Requirements include passing a written examination and meeting minimum levels of experience and education.

Anthropology degree programs are not widely available in an online format; however, there are a select few online programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Online doctoral degree programs in anthropology are more challenging to find as well.

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