5 Hallmarks of Quality Anthropology Degree Programs

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  • Funding
  • Research Focus
  • The Right Professors
  • Graduation and Job Placement
  • Field Work Opportunities

There are several hallmarks of quality anthropology degree programs that students should look for. Anthropology is an exciting area of study that includes topics as diverse as primates, the development of language, modern urban subcultures, and many other research interests. Determining what type of anthropology is of interest is one of the first steps in choosing the right program.

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1. Funding

Funding is a more important hallmark of a quality anthropology degree program for graduate students than undergraduates, but it is still worth considering even for people working on their bachelor’s. For undergraduate students, the cost of the school might be weighed against what kind of financial aid would be available and whether the debt burden is reasonable. For the most part, graduate students in anthropology should only consider attending schools that offer full funding, possibly in the form of research or teaching assistantships.

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2. Research Focus

Different anthropology programs will have different focuses. For graduate students, it is critical to choose a school that has a focus that is in that student’s area of interest. Undergraduate students may be less certain about the area they would like to concentrate on in anthropology. In fact, getting an undergraduate degree may in part be about learning more about the field in general. However, even undergraduate students may have a broad sense of what they want to study. For example, an undergraduate student whose primary interest is in studying different cultures might not be happy at a school that has a primary focus on biological anthropology and only a few classes on cultural anthropology.

3. The Right Professors

Students should consider whether the program has not just courses that are of interest but whether professors’ specific areas of research are relevant to their own. As with the overall focus of the school, this is more of a concern for graduate students, as the American Anthropological Association points out. Graduate students will need to work closely with a faculty member, so it is important that a mentor is available. However, even undergraduate students can use this criterion, particularly if they have a chance to visit the campus and talk with some of the professors.

4. Graduation and Job Placement

Students should find out what percentage of students graduate and what their job placement rates look like. A hallmark of a quality anthropology degree program is that most students graduate and go on to get desirable jobs. A student who hopes to work in academia should look at how many students get tenured positions. Other students may go on to work in public health, education, cultural resource management, and many other fields.

5. Field Work Opportunities

Not every undergraduate anthropology major must do fieldwork, and it is possible to do fieldwork even if the school does not offer it. However, the opportunity to do fieldwork can enhance a student’s qualifications, and if the school offers one that is in the student’s area of interest, this could be a hallmark of a quality anthropology degree program for that student.

Anthropology can be a competitive field, and the opportunity to make connections with leading figures or knowing that most graduates go on to desirable careers can make all the difference in choosing the right school. Students should look for these hallmarks of quality anthropology degree programs to ensure that their undergraduate or graduate experience is a fruitful one.