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How Do I Become a Psychological Anthropologist?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Psychological anthropology is a broad multidisciplinary field that examines the myriad ways in which psychological functions and cultural constructs affect each other. A psychological anthropologist may, for instance, examine the manner in which a given historical culture influenced the psychological development of its people. There are many different academic paths that one can take to become a psychological anthropologist. Many people find that, as early as high school, they are interested in culture, history, or psychology, and they choose to pursue this further through higher education. Very few colleges offer undergraduate degrees in psychological anthropology, so one who wants to formally become a psychological anthropologist must generally attend graduate school and conduct research in his chosen field.

In order to become a psychological anthropologist, one should place special emphasis on history, psychology, and writing while in high school. Many high schools do not offer classes in anthropology or particularly good courses in psychology, so taking a wide range of challenging classes while pursuing one's own interest in psychological anthropology may be more effective. During this time, it is particularly important to research colleges in order to determine which ones have good psychology and anthropology programs. Performing well enough to get into these schools is also very important.

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Most colleges do not offer undergraduate degrees in psychological anthropology, but college is still a requirement for one who wants to become a psychological anthropologist. One should take a combination of classes from the psychology and anthropology departments. It may also be beneficial to speak to professors about one's particular interests, as they may have advice about specific classes to take or people to talk to. Identifying and meeting with professors who conduct research in the field of psychological anthropology can be particularly valuable as well. They may even allow one with sufficient knowledge to work as a research assistant, which could provide useful experience for a student trying to become a psychological anthropologist.

Graduate school is probably the most important part in one's journey to become a psychological anthropologist. Some universities offer graduate programs in psychological anthropology, and others may allow a student to take a cultural approach to psychology or a psychological approach to culture, depending on one's particular interest. Research is a major part of the graduate experience, and students are generally expected to conduct some original research in their chosen fields. As such, graduate school gives one the chance to more specifically characterize his interests and to deeply explore them. Upon finishing graduate-level research, one generally will be qualified for more independent academic work.

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