Graduate Programs in Anthropology with Course Information

Graduate education in anthropology is most common at the doctoral degree level. Master's and doctoral studies are generally blended into one program. Terminal master's degree programs exist, but are rare.

Essential Information

Anthropology is a multidisciplinary field that integrates ideas and research methods from history, sociology, archaeology and other social sciences to gain a better understanding of humankind. Graduate-level coursework covers many topics concerning the history, development and cultural evolution of human beings.

Admission to anthropology graduate programs is usually a competitive process since there are few openings each year. Prerequisites include a bachelor's degree in a subject related to the social sciences or liberal arts. A specific grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) criteria are also often required, alongside a personal statement and letters of recommendation.

Master's Degree in Anthropology

Anthropology graduate programs that award terminal master's degrees are rare because most programs require students to complete master's degree coursework while earning doctorate degrees. Since most advanced careers in the field require doctorate degrees, it is uncommon for students to end their education with only master's degrees. Because of the breadth of topics covered in anthropology master's degree programs, students are often asked to take classes in other complementary disciplines, like archeology and history. A limited number of programs allow master's degree students to choose specializations like medical anthropology. Typical coursework usually covers the subjects mentioned below:

  • Historical anthropological theory
  • Political anthropology
  • Anthropology research methods
  • Economic anthropology
  • Anthropological data and statistics

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Doctoral Degree in Anthropology

Doctorate programs in anthropology teach students to synthesize knowledge and techniques from many fields to better understand human history and the development of culture and society. Anthropology doctoral students often study ancient artifacts, historic texts, artwork and other items to better understand past societies. Most doctorate programs in anthropology require students to focus on particular aspects of the field. Students work with academic advisors to design curricula that both emphasize their interests and prepare them for their dissertations. The subjects below are common areas of emphasis:

  • Sociocultural anthropology
  • Primatology
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Physical anthropology

Popular Career Options

People who enter the workforce after earning master's degrees in anthropology are not qualified for advanced or supervisory positions in the field, but they do have several opportunities. The following careers are popular options:

  • Museum curator assistant
  • Archeologist assistant
  • Anthropology research assistant

Those who earn doctorate degrees in anthropology qualify for careers working for colleges, governmental agencies, private research facilities and non-profit groups. Graduates often choose careers such as the following:

  • University professor
  • Museum curator
  • Cultural preservationist

Both master's and doctoral degree programs are available in anthropology, although master's options are limited. These programs focus on independent research and may allow students to choose a specialization, particularly at the doctoral level. Potential career paths for graduates may include university teaching, museum curation and more.

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