PhD in Anthropology: Degree Program Overviews

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

PhD programs in anthropology (3-5 years) are intended for those interested in education, research, and consulting positions. An anthropologist studies the origins, behaviors, cultures, and languages of human communities. They often participate in fieldwork, receiving hands-on experience in their area of interest and requirements for graduating may include a dissertation, the passing of comprehensive exams, student teaching, and foreign language fluency. Prerequisites for program applicants usually include a bachelor's degree, master's degree (or extensive master's level coursework), and in some cases the completion of the graduate record examination (GRE).

Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology

Some programs require applicants to submit writing samples demonstrating their prior research and expertise in anthropology. Major requirements for earning a doctorate are an independent research project, written and oral exams, and attendance at advanced anthropology seminars. Candidates must also fulfill a teaching requirement. A Ph.D. degree program in anthropology usually takes about 3-5 years to complete, though it may take longer. Coursework varies by specialization, but commonly emphasizes ethnography, social analysis and action, diversity, ethics, history, sociology, and psychology. Course topics can include:

  • Postcolonial studies
  • Cultural and linguistic anthropology
  • History in anthropology
  • Gender issues
  • Primate behavior
  • Ethnography of media and anthropology of art

Popular Career Options

The best job opportunities in this field are expected for those with PhD degrees in anthropology, as opposed to those with less education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for anthropologists and archeologists are expected to increase at a rate of 10% from 2018 to 2028, with a 2019 median annual salary of $63,670 ( Graduates can find work as:

  • Anthropologists
  • Geographers
  • Historians
  • Archeologists
  • Professors

PhD programs in anthropology allow students to further their expertise of human cultures, with courses going over historical and linguistic studies, gender issues, the anthropology of art, and more. Graduates of these programs have the best chances at entering into professions within the field.

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