Master's Programs in Biological Anthropology
Master's degree programs in biological or physical anthropology are readily available for students who meet admissions prerequisites. Read on to learn what the coursework looks like in these programs and possible career options with this degree.
What Does a Master's in Biological Anthropology Look Like?
Many programs in biological anthropology are geared toward students pursuing their PhDs. However, students can also pursue stand-alone master's degrees in this field, often as a concentration area within a general anthropology program. This course of study takes around 30 to 36 credits of core and elective coursework. Some programs may require a written thesis to graduate with a master's degree.
Primatology courses involve the study of primates. Topics of study can focus on such areas as primate behavior, primate cognition, or primate evolution. Students might examine historical views of primates or compare fossil primates to living primates.
While paleontology is the study of fossils on the whole, paleoanthropology classes focus specially on humans. Studies in paleoanthropology can reveal the appearance of early hominins and a number of other interesting facts. Students learn how to use fossils to garner this information. Some courses may also discuss the theoretical basis of this field.
Medical anthropology delves into the study of human illness. Topics of discussion could include how adaptations to the environment affect health. Students might also examine the practical applications of this field for solving global health issues.
Courses in skeletal biology, or osteology, give students a more intimate knowledge of the skeletal system of humans. Physiology and anatomy of the skeleton are both major components of these courses. Students learn to collect and analyze information from bones to create a biological profile. They might also compare the remains of past human populations and reconstruct demographic patterns.
Human Anatomy and Biology
Anatomy and human biology classes can include the study of joints, ligaments, the respiratory and circulatory systems, and other soft tissues. This instruction might be accompanied by time in a cadaver lab. Other courses might focus on evolutionary biology or human reproductive biology.
Courses in evolution tackle any number of subjects. For example, one course might examine the history of evolutionary thought. Another course might look at the social evolution of human behavior. Human ecology with respect to behavior, social norms, and other sociological issues is also studied in these types of courses.
What Are Typical Admittance Requirements for a Master's in Biological Anthropology?
Admissions boards for graduate programs in biological anthropology like to see that a student has undertaken coursework prior to graduate school in the same field of study. This background may include undergraduate courses in anthropology, biology, and other physical sciences. GRE scores, letters of recommendation from faculty members, personal statements, and transcripts are also needed to apply. Schools generally accept applications with a 3.0 and above undergraduate GPA.
What Jobs Can I Do with a Master's in Biological Anthropology?
Anthropologists work for universities and government entities, among other organizations. They do fieldwork and conduct research on various aspects of human evolution. They may also work with archeologists to provide a complete academic picture of an excavation and typically need at least a master's degree for employment.
Postsecondary education is one of the main fields someone with a graduate degree in biological anthropology might pursue. University professors give lectures, and with their teaching assistants, grade tests and papers. Professors with a biological anthropology master's degree might qualify for positions in two-year schools; a doctorate is often required for university teaching positions.
High School Teacher
Someone with a master's degree in biological anthropology might elect to teach at the secondary school level rather than the collegiate. High school teachers with degrees in biological anthropology might teach history, social studies, or even biology courses.
Primatology is one of the largest informers of biological anthropology, so individuals with a graduate degree in biological anthropology could also be a part of a research team at a zoo. Zoologists might gather data on primates and prosimians to inform research on human evolution.
Someone with a master's degree in biological anthropology might pursue a career at a museum. Museums often hire curators with educational backgrounds in their specific themes to research a collection's specimens, and there is no shortage of natural history museums that feature a human element. If the Smithsonian is your goal, a master's in biological anthropology might be your course of study.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2018)*||Job Growth (2018-2028)*|
|Anthropologist||$62,410 (for anthropologists and archeologists)||10% (for anthropologists and archeologists)|
|High School Teacher||$60,320||4%|
|Zoological Researcher||$63,420 (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)||5% (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)|
Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics
A master's degree in biological anthropology can be a difficult program to get into, but once in, students have a plethora of study opportunities, ranging from studying human fossils to the evolution of society as we know it. The careers available with this degree are also highly varied and can include jobs in universities, zoos, and museums.