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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Cultural Anthropology

Majors Overview November 20, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in cultural anthropology and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Cultural Anthropology

The study of living people, their societal differences, economies, and cultures is cultural anthropology. Enrollees in a master’s degree program get the chance to examine the political and social environs of different people and cultures closely. Students are taught skills in social theory and ethnography (a mode of researching cultural events).

Techniques, such as observation, interviews, and fieldwork, are used in observing the beliefs, morals, and customs of groups of people. Students explore the ways in which their socio-economic surroundings relate to the possible broader effects of their actions.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have done previous research in the field, in addition to holding an undergraduate degree. Program graduates often seek to become a university-level teacher, researcher or museum curator.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to submit two to three letters of recommendation and Graduate Record Examination (GRE), in addition to having independent previous research or field study experience. Programs prefer candidates who have previously participated in the anthropological community, through attendance at lectures, conferences, and workshops.


Students can complete a master’s degree program in cultural anthropology within 2-3 years. The diploma program devotes its first part to study in area-specific classes in anthropology. Program coursework typically emphasizes fieldwork, and competence in a foreign language often has to be demonstrated by graduate students regardless of whether it is a requirement in their field research. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Anthropological theory history
•Field techniques and problems
•Gender and expressive culture
•Anthropology of Religion
•Ethnography and Theory
•Anthropology of War
•American Indian ethnohistory
•Arctic people and culture
•Public monuments and symbols
•Folklore of celebrations

Career Choices

Program graduates may seek a university-level teaching career or one that could involve field work studying a remote tribe of indigenous peoples. They may choose from possible career options such as:

•Corporate consultant
•Professor of Anthropology
•Linguistics specialist

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth of 19% has been predicted in the fiercely competitive field of cultural anthropology (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The scientific, technical consulting, and management sectors of the economy are expected to hold the best career opportunities. For instance, the U.S. Department of Defense will need people to study the values and customs of societies that interest the government. Consultants will also be expected to employ analytical skills in resolving growing social and economic challenges.

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue a Ph.D. program in Anthropology or a related subject that could lead to a higher-level teaching career in a university or to attract a better wage packet.

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