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Cultural Anthropology Degree Programs

A bachelor's degree program in cultural anthropology may lead to entry-level research assisting work, though a graduate degree, preferably a Ph.D., is typically required for independent research and consulting jobs. Continue reading to find out more about what you can learn in such degree programs as well as the career outlook for the field.

What Is Cultural Anthropology?

Cultural anthropology is concerned with the development of civilizations and how humanity at large has shaped them. While studying for a degree in cultural anthropology, you'll analyze various subsets of cultures from around the world and their global interconnections in the hopes of a better understanding of what it means to be a human. Cultural anthropology is a sort of hybrid field, combining aspects of the humanities with the scientific collection of empirical ethnographic data and information.

DefinitionThe study of how humans have shaped the development of civilizations
Course TopicsVary by degree level but may include race and ethnicity, government, gender and legal structures
Career OptionsResearch assistant, journalist or field technician; researcher or teacher with graduate degree
Median Salary (2018)$62,410* (for anthropologists and archaeologists)
Job Outlook (2016-26)4%* (for all anthropologists and archaeologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Classes About?

If you're planning on earning your Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Cultural Anthropology, you may study subjects such as linguistics, cultural anthropology, the cultures of specific geographic regions, cross-cultural politics and fieldwork methods. Course topics may include:

  • Gender and development
  • Psychology and culture
  • Legal structures
  • Localities and global systems
  • Race and ethnicity

If you work toward a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, you'll conduct original field research on a specialized topic, such as popular culture, race, gender or sexuality. You may be asked to apply this research toward a doctoral dissertation as a Ph.D. student or a thesis if you're a master's degree student. Additionally, you may be required to participate in an internship. You'll also need to take some courses that may cover topics such as:

  • Family and gender issues
  • Psychological and medical anthropology
  • Ecological and environmental anthropology
  • Politics and government
  • Media and popular culture

What Are Some Job Options?

A B.A. in cultural anthropology is generally seen as a stepping stone toward graduate work. However, you could potentially find an entry-level position doing work as a journalist, field technician or research assistant. Earning a graduate degree would typically lead you into teaching or research positions.

How Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for anthropologists and archaeologists was $62,410 in May of 2018 (www.bls.gov). Some of the industries in which you may find work as a cultural anthropologist include scientific research, management and technical consulting. To better your employment opportunities and separate yourself from the competition, consider earning a graduate degree and developing your quantitative research skills.