Cultural Anthropology Graduate Programs with Course Summaries

Master's and doctoral degree programs in cultural anthropology offer aspiring archeologists, anthropologists and historians a chance to study human cultures and societies through lecture courses, field studies, labs and, in some cases, travel abroad.

Essential Information

Throughout a cultural anthropology program, students may focus on methodological techniques and theoretical principles through courses in culture and evolution, cultural method and applied anthropology. Some master's programs also include foreign language coursework relevant to a student's specialized area of interest. Students generally maintain laboratory space and explore interests in the field, as well as complete a dissertation or thesis.

Typical prerequisites include a bachelor's degree in anthropology or related field. For doctoral program entry, a master's degree may be required. Some programs also require applicants to submit a sample of scholarly research.

Master's Degree in Cultural Anthropology

Many master's degree programs in cultural anthropology offer curricula focused in fundamental training, issues and knowledge of the field, including areas of prehistory, cultural and sociocultural anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, linguistics and biological anthropology.

Most programs expect students to complete research and thesis involving qualitative methods, as well as pass examinations. To attain professional competency in anthropology, students may participate in ethnographic research and field experience, some of which may involve traveling abroad. Typically, programs also require students to acquire competency in a foreign language. Courses found in the program include:

  • Culture theory
  • Ethnography
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • People and cultures
  • Anthropological theory

Doctorate in Cultural Anthropology

Individuals interested in additional training in the field can pursue a doctoral program in anthropology, which commonly offers students additional opportunities for research in historical and ethnographical practices. Programs encourage students to study and interpret areas such as race, social movements, nationalism, linguistics, psychology and sociology. Students are generally expected to complete research, pass examinations, participate in colloquia experiences and produce a dissertation.

Students will engage in course material that encourages research and ethnographic experiences. Most doctorate programs in cultural anthropology delve into methods, theory, concepts, literature and issues related to anthropology. Programs may offer topics such as:

  • Professional communication
  • Culture and evolution
  • Ethnography
  • Urban anthropology
  • Globalization

Popular Career Options

Graduates from a master's degree program with a focus in cultural anthropology are prepared for careers that study and preserve human origins or cultures. Examples of career titles include:

  • Cultural anthropologists
  • Archivists
  • Archaeologists
  • Historians

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Anthropologists can find career opportunities in academia and research, as well as professional and scientific services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), anthropologists and archaeologists should see a projected employment growth of 4% from 2014-2024 ( Additionally, the BLS reported that anthropologists and archaeologists earned a median annual wage of $61,220 in 2015.

Graduate study in the field of cultural anthropology is available to students in the form of master's and doctoral-level degree programs. Course content often includes the study of topics like linguistic anthropology and anthropological theory at the master's level and ethnography and urban anthropology at the doctorate level.

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