Cultural Anthropology Graduate Schools and Degree Programs

Cultural anthropology graduate degree programs require you to select a research focus. Both on-campus and online master's programs are available, as well as on-campus doctoral programs. Continue reading for information on applying to these degree programs and courses you may take in your program. Schools offering Social Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Graduate programs in cultural anthropology include advanced coursework designed to develop a student's specific research interests. Though many programs require on-campus coursework and fieldwork, some online options are available.

Degrees M.A. and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, Applied Anthropology
Courses Ethnographic research methods, ethics of fieldwork, linguistics, ethnographic studies, development of sociocultural theory
Online Some master's programs offer online options, but no doctoral programs are offered online.

What Should I Look for in a Cultural Anthropology Graduate School?

During your graduate career, you'll choose a specialty and research location. Thus, you might first consider where in the world you would like to conduct your fieldwork and seek out faculty mentors who match your research interests and focus on the same geographic area.

Second, you might consider whether an online or on-campus program is right for you. Terminal master's programs are available in both formats. A Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Applied Anthropology might be two available options. Doctoral programs are exclusively on-campus, although you will be required to conduct fieldwork at a research site.

What About Enrollment Procedures?

Financial support is often unavailable to students for whom the master's degree is the ultimate goal and you typically can't transfer into a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program from a terminal master's program without reapplying. If your goal is to earn a Ph.D., you would be advised to enroll in a doctoral program upfront and earn your master's in the course of studying for your doctorate. Some schools only give a terminal master's degree to students who will not advance to Ph.D. candidacy and do not admit students who are only seeking a master's.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Graduate Degree Program?

You can obtain a master's degree in 2-3 years of full-time study. For the Ph.D., you will generally complete coursework in 2-3 years and then sit for qualifying exams and present your dissertation proposal in the following year. Once you advance to candidacy, time to completion will depend on how long it takes for you to conduct fieldwork, write up your research and defend your dissertation. It generally takes 7-8 years to earn a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology.

How Do I Get Into a Graduate Degree Program?

Some graduate programs in cultural anthropology are highly selective, only admitting a small number of new students each year. You do not need to have a bachelor's degree in anthropology, but a degree in a related discipline, such as international studies, sociology or gender studies, is useful.

There may be a language prerequisite for application, or you may be required to pass language exams within two years after entering a program. Cultural anthropology is often combined with the study of social and linguistic anthropology in graduate programs since social institutions and language are inextricably tied to culture. For this reason, you may be required to demonstrate proficiency in at least one foreign language relevant to your chosen study area. Conversational ability will be essential to conducting informant interviews and observing participants in your cultural research. You will also need reading skills in your chosen language in order to investigate the literature for research materials. The following schools offer cultural anthropology graduate degree programs:

  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
  • New York University (New York, NY)
  • The University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
  • University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
  • Duke University (Durham, NC)

What Courses are in a Degree Program?

Core classes will introduce you to ethnographic research methods and fundamental sociocultural theories. By your second year, you'll select advanced courses in your particular research area and chosen geographic specialty. Some course topics include:

  • Ethics of fieldwork
  • Ethnographic studies of the Caribbean
  • Ethnographic film (online and on-campus)
  • Producing ethnographic documentaries
  • Language and socialization
  • Refugees and migrants (online)
  • Social movements
  • Ethnographic studies of South Asia
  • American society and culture (online)
  • Art and society
  • Culture
  • Linguistics

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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