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How Do I Get an Anthropology Degree?

Pursuing a graduate degree will provide more opportunities for a student.
Cultural, biological and physical anthropology degree programs are offered by various colleges.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2014
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Many colleges and universities offer training in anthropology to people who are interested in this field, creating many options for people who want an anthropology degree. Because several subheadings fall under the broad discipline of anthropology, people should think about what kind of anthropology they want to study, as this can be a determining factor in where they go for their educations, and what type of training they receive.

Anthropology literally means “the study of humans.” One branch of anthropological study, archeology, focuses on the study of ancient human civilizations. Cultural anthropologists look at modern human societies, studying things like language, culture, and sociology; Margaret Mead was a noted cultural anthropologist. People can also focus on biological anthropology, also called physical anthropology, in which the physical characteristics of humans are studied. A small subset of this field known as forensic anthropology focuses on the examination of human remains for legal purposes.

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Just because a school has an anthropology department doesn't mean that all types of anthropological study are offered. For this reason, once people narrow down the type of anthropology they are interested in, they should do some research to find out which colleges and universities grant anthropology degrees in their area of interest. They may also want to look up college ratings to determine how good the program is. One useful clue to the quality of programs is to look at the members of professional anthropology organizations, especially board members and presidents, and see where they went to school.

Ideally, someone who wants an anthropology degree should find a good program in high school, so that he or she can apply directly into the school which offers the program of choice. Students who only realize that they are interested in anthropology once they reach college may need to transfer to get into a program which will provide an anthropology degree in their chosen specialty.

To graduate with an anthropology degree, the student will need to complete the requirements for the program, in addition to the graduation requirements set out by the school. Staff in the anthropology department can provide more information about specific requirements, such as language courses, ethics classes, and biology coursework which may need to be completed to get an anthropology degree.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, it is a good idea to think about graduate studies. Pursuing a graduate degree such as a MA or PhD will provide more opportunities for the student, and it may be required for certain types of work. For example, professors usually hold doctoral degrees, and they may have completed postgraduate work as well, and the supervisors at museums and archaeological sites also hold doctoral degrees in anthropology.

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