20 Best Schools For An Online Master’s in Anthropology Degree in 2022

Best Schools Online Master's in Anthropology - featured image

Franz Boas and his protégés Margaret Mead, Ella Cara Deloria, and Zora Neale Hurston are among the cultural anthropologists that redefined humanity. With an Online Master’s degree in Anthropology, you have the enviable opportunity to contribute to the existing body of knowledge about our humanity, societies and cultures, including their interrelationships! 

Think of anthropology as a window into our world, one where we can understand ourselves and our world in a better way. Anthropologists are curious about cultures and civilizations and their relationships and influences on human life in different places and times. By studying the past, they can make better interpretations of the present. 

Best Schools Online Master's in Anthropology - fact

To become an effective anthropologist, you should be inquisitive, observant, enjoy solving puzzles, and possess interpersonal skills. Indeed, dealing with people and talking about their history, culture and society takes a special type of professional. Earning your online Master’s in Anthropology or related fields is an excellent start to becoming part of such a special profession!


Overview:
The beauty of earning an online Master’s in Anthropology degree lies in the wide range of career opportunities, meaningful interactions with diverse peoples, and good compensation. Its fair share of challenges includes an extensive curriculum, rigorous academic requirements and a research component that makes its achievement even more fulfilling. Be aware of these rewards and demands before enrolling in one of the featured programs.


The Importance of Anthropology in Everyday Life 

We often think of anthropology as a field of study with little to nothing to do with everyday life, much less about our understanding of ourselves. But this is far from the truth! Anthropology can transform our lives by unlocking our assumptions on diverse subjects, from parenting, fashion and food to politics, economics and gender. By studying the past, we can reveal recurring patterns, new possibilities, and innovative answers to the issues we face every day. 

As for our sense of individuality, anthropology enables us to reflect on the genetic, cultural and societal origins of self, including its evolution as we move through the phases of life. By studying humanity as a whole in an Online Master’s in Anthropology program, we understand the individual in their specific time and place. We also become connected to other people from disparate places, promote positive social transformation, and realize that we are one underneath our differences. 


20 Best Schools with Online Master’s in Anthropology Degree Programs  

Harvard University

Harvard University

Students in Harvard’s Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies: Anthropology and Archaeology program take 1-2 courses, on average, per semester. With nine-year average years of professional experience, most students plan on leveraging the degree for a career change. Harvard’s emphasis on the contemporary applications of anthropology and archaeology in diverse societal issues, from land use, religion and gender to politics and climate change, makes it a valuable degree for our times. 

The learning outcomes include building a robust foundation rooted in contemporary principles and practices of these related areas of study. Students investigate the material culture and its related aspects of past cultures and civilizations and submit either a final capstone project as a group or a thesis research project as an individual. Harvard offers the option of earning a certificate in social justice, too. 

Harvard uses the hyflex approach, meaning students participate in Helix classrooms and Zoom meetings and access class recordings while interacting via online discussion tools. 


University of North Texas

UNT’s online Master of Arts and Master of Science in Applied Anthropology programs were designed to attract a diverse population of students, particularly from historically underrepresented groups. These programs were designed according to UNT’s rigorous academic standards but with greater flexibility and convenience for non-traditional students. 

Both MA and MS degree programs consist of 36 credit hours but have different emphases. Foreign language proficiency is required among MA students, either through a 2-year language study including undergraduate credits or by passing a Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures- administered exam. Students in the MS program must develop additional skills that match their specific area of interest. 

The time-to-completion for UNT’s Online Master’s in Anthropology is three years for students who take two classes per term during the fall and spring semesters. All 12 courses in the program are fully online and delivered through Canvas. But students must comply with the on-campus visits – one for the two-day, on-campus orientation and the other for the applied thesis project-related verbal presentations. 

UNT also offers a dual degree – a Master in Public Health and an MS in Applied Anthropology. 


California Institute of Integral Studies

California Institute of Integral Studies

Social justice and activism make CIIS’ Master of Arts in Anthropology and Social Change program among the most unique! Students become catalysts and active participants in productive dialogues between academia and the movers and shakers in social justice. The intersection between theory and practice of anthropology as it relates to social change and justice becomes a convergence 

Online Master’s in Anthropology students at CIIS gain not only the theoretical framework of anthropology and social change but also become a force for change through professional relationships with progressive organizations involved in social justice in the San Francisco Bay Area. The two-year, 36-credit online program coursework focuses on theoretical, organizing, and media skills. The theory-centric coursework covers radical theory, radical political economy, and global social movements. The media skills cover radical radio, strategic creation of materials for traditional media, and Internet skills, while the organizing skills touch on legal and campaigning skills and many more. 

Students participate in a residential intensive every semester, and it’s both a way of encouraging a community spirit while earning credits. In-person courses, fieldwork exercises and attendance in public talks are on the agenda. 


Portland State University

Portland State University

PSU’s Master of Arts and Master of Science in Anthropology program fosters its students’ keen interest in one anthropology subfield: archaeology, biological anthropology, and socio-cultural anthropology. Students also choose to develop unique projects that blur the boundaries between these subfields. PSU also offers the choice between three tracks – the internship track, thesis track, or the skills-based track with didactic courses and comprehensive exams. 

Depending on the chosen track, Online Master’s in Anthropology students at PSU earn 48-52 credits. There are 60 courses in the program that spans the depth and breadth of anthropology at the graduate level, and each course emphasizes transferable skills and ethics and research methods. Students start in the fall semester and learn through lecture-type, small seminars, lab-based classes, and intensive training in ethnographic processes. Field-based courses are conducted at the Primatology Field School and Fort Vancouver Archaeological Field School. 

PSU also offers an accelerated 4+1 Bachelor’s + Master’s Program in Anthropology. Students share 20 graduate-level credits in the program.  


Idaho State University 

Idaho-State-University-1

ISU offers interested individuals a choice between the Master of Arts and Master of Science in Anthropology. Both are fully online programs with a rolling admissions policy. Students start in the summer, spring or fall terms and enjoy affordable fees, the same for in-state and out-of-state students. The fully online program allows its students to enroll part-time or full-time as their schedule allows but offers individual live online academic advising services. 

Students may also earn the 12-credit Medical Anthropology Certificate alongside their master’s degree. Specialization in medical, ecological, and linguistics is also possible, among many other choices. Both the MA and MS programs have a 20-credit curriculum, but the emphasis differs – the MA program emphasizes the arts while the MS focuses on the sciences. MS students must submit an approved master’s thesis and make a successful oral defense. All Online Master’s in Anthropology students at ISU take up seminars in linguistic, biological and socio-cultural anthropology. 


Eastern University

Eastern University

EU’s fully online Master of Arts in Theological and Cultural Anthropology program accepts new students in January and August. Students complete it in 12 months for full-time enrolment or 16-21 months for part-time matriculation, although other factors may lengthen the time to completion. Alumni with an EU bachelor’s degree receive a 20% discount, and financial aid, including federal aid, military benefits and partner grants, are available. 

Students prepare for rewarding careers in academia, social services and church ministry, and a possible doctorate in anthropology. Core courses in theology and anthropology establish a robust framework, while the electives in business, education and linguistics expand the students’ perspective and opportunities. 

The 33-credit program has an 11-month time-to-completion rate, the shortest on our list but still among the most rigorous due to its short duration. It also has a faith-based approach that missionaries and clerics will appreciate more. 


Eastern New Mexico University

Offered at ENMU for more than 50 years, the nationally-recognized Master of Arts in Anthropology program has a particular focus on the cultures of the US Southwest and Plains area. Students learn about Paleoindian studies, Southwest archaeology, zooarchaeology, cultural resource management, historic preservation, and GIS. Combining these courses results in well-rounded graduate-level training that can lead to successful careers in the public and private sectors. 

Online Master’s in Anthropology students at ENMU choose between two graduate requirements – first, a master’s thesis or an internship with a research project. Both the thesis and non-thesis tracks require the thesis or research project to be aligned with ENMU’s areas of expertise in anthropology. The internship requirement may be completed virtually through ENMU or with other organizations, even the student’s current employer. 

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in anthropology or another relevant area, but non-anthropology applicants may be required to complete leveling courses. 


University of Alaska Anchorage

University-of-Alaska-Anchorage

Individuals interested in studying the distinct populations and diverse environments of Alaska and the Arctic North will find UAA’s Master of Arts in Anthropology program to their liking! This applied anthropology degree is based on a contemporary general understanding of anthropology, emphasizing the Aleutians. Students also study the human experience, including culture, history and language. 

Many courses are conducted on-campus at UUA’s main campus or Kenai Peninsula College, but some classes are delivered online. Online Master’s in Anthropology students access the university’s computer laboratories, libraries and cultural centers for their didactic and research work. The 3D modeling lab at the Anthropology Laboratory for Cultural and Environmental Scanning is popular, as are the Bioanthropology Lab, Archaeology Wet and Dry Labs, and Cultural Resource Management Lab. 

Students enjoy the perks of Anthropology Club membership, including Archaeology Day and movie nights. Academic advising and financial aid are available. 


St. John’s University

St. John's University

Students of St. John’s Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program will gain a unique perspective of international and sustainable development, nonprofit management, and human rights issues. Anthropology is at its heart, meaning students see global development and justice with an anthropologist’s mindset. Students also learn these areas’ best principles and practices through a rigorous curriculum spanning topics on justice studies, transformative justice, and peacebuilding. 

The Vincentian tradition and Catholic Social Teaching are the foundation upon which the program is based. St. John’s welcomes applicants with demonstrated economic, social and physical disadvantages and then provides them with excellent education and training. The fully online multidisciplinary program consists of 33 credits with courses on Catholic social thought, the economics of development, and migration and refugees in development.


Multnomah University

Multnomah University

The Master of Arts (MA) in Global Development and Justice program is excellent preparation for mission pastors, community leaders and cross-cultural workers at the national and international levels. Students develop their anthropology-based knowledge and skills in the blended online program in poverty alleviation, compassion initiatives, and justice programs. 

The 39-credit curriculum consists of didactic coursework with a two-week contextual residency in a foreign country, usually as part of the programs of non-governmental organizations. The residency also includes two foundational courses. The rest of the eight-week courses are conducted online. Students pick between a thesis research project or a 300-hour internship as part of the graduation requirements. 


University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Students of the Master’s of Professional Studies in Cultural and Heritage Resource Management program use UMD’s Electronic Learning Management System (ELMS) in accessing their learning materials, among other activities. The ELMS is a user-friendly and intuitive web-based technology with useful features for students and professors. The hybrid program provides both static contents (e.g., lecture notes, syllabus and announcements) and interactive content like online assessments, live chats and discussion groups. 

Every term lasts for 12 weeks, and the academic calendar includes four terms – fall, winter, spring and summer. The program consists of 36 credits with an 18-month time-to-completion. Students should be on continuous enrollment to meet the expected time-to-completion but minimal disruptions to their personal and professional commitments. 

Students undergo rigorous training in the diverse aspects of cultural and heritage resource management, specializing in anthropology. Communication management, research methods and technical writing skills, and ethics are emphasized, and these skills are applied during the internship and highlighted in a technical report. 


Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

JHU’s Master of Arts in Cultural Heritage Management program has fall, spring, and summer start dates and an online format. But while the ten courses are delivered online, students attend one on-campus seminar. Full-time students can complete the program in 16-24 months. 

Students build a robust foundation in cultural heritage management, including world heritage, aside from tailoring their degree according to their career goals. This is achieved through various electives from JHU’s digital curation, museum studies and environmental science policy programs. Students also engage in two-week immersive educational experiences, including site visits, class sessions, and other hands-on opportunities.  

JHU also allows its students to earn a master’s degree and a certificate credential by choosing between Digital Curation and Nonprofit Management. These professional credentials open up opportunities that otherwise would not be possible, such as international offers. 


St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud’s Master of Science in Cultural Resources Management Archaeology is available on-campus and online via video conferencing and other technologies. Students gain diverse perspectives of anthropology, archaeology and cultural resources management and a meaningful appreciation of human culture and its diversity. Students can earn an 18-credit certificate, too, which can be earned along with the MS degree. 

The ability to appreciate the “big picture” drives the program of study that integrates theory, philosophy and practice. Students develop their practical skills in the design, development and management of cultural resources management. With their hands-on experiences, they become competent and confident professionals after graduation. Many also pursue a doctorate in anthropology or one of its specializations, including cultural resources management. 


Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

SIUE offers two master’s degrees that aspiring anthropologists find excellent – the Master of Arts and Master of Science (MS) in Integrative Studies – Cultural Heritage and Resources Management programs. Students may also concurrently earn a certificate in museum studies and, thus, open up more career opportunities in anthropology. The program offers hybrid and online options in its course offerings for these programs. 

Both programs have an interdisciplinary curriculum with students taking courses in anthropology, history and geography, and cultural resources management’s ethical and legal issues. A robust theoretical framework complements the strong practical skills, such as GIS and mapping, artifact and art preservation, and survey and excavation methods, which students develop over time. Graduates are employed in national parks and monuments, tourism, and trade and commerce organizations for their valuable skill sets. 

The 30-credit program allows students to focus their studies on either museology and ethnographic heritage or archaeology and cultural resources management. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, history or geography or a related field, but applicants may also be required to address deficiencies or take prerequisites. 


New Mexico Highlands University

New Mexico Highlands University

Current and aspiring professionals can apply to the Professional Master’s Degree in Cultural Resource Management program. Students gain productive exposure to anthropological work at the grassroots level and in state and federal agencies. The program focuses on the culture, language and history of the Southwest while also providing students with access to contemporary resources. 

There are three cornerstones of NMHU’s program: 

  • Extensive knowledge of Southwest cultures
  • Professional-level research skills, and
  • Strong theoretical and procedural knowledge necessary in solving issues in cultural resources management anthropology. 

Graduates meet the minimum professional qualification requirements adopted by the National Park Service and, thus, become competitive for jobs. NMHU also offers a Master of Arts in Southwest Studies – Anthropology Concentration. 


Biola University

Biola-University

Biola’s Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies has a faith-based program of study as befits its status as a private Christian university. Students prepare for leadership careers that involve immersive experiences in spreading the Bible’s message in diverse cultures worldwide. Their knowledge and skills gained become valuable in understanding the cultures, including the language, norms and traditions of their places of ministry. 

The program is designed to complete two years but can be longer depending on transferred credits and course load per term. Students earn 30-39 credits depending on their preferred electives and specializations, including Community Development, Intercultural Education, and Peace and Conflict Transformation. Core courses include Economic Anthropology, Cross-Cultural Leadership, Culture Change, and Vocational Preparation. Academic excellence and effective research are emphasized alongside spiritual transformation. 


Liberty University

Liberty’s reputation for the excellent quality of instruction is evident in its Master’s in Global Studies program. Students earn 36 credit hours in the program but can transfer up to 18 credit hours from previous graduate-level education. Without transferred credits, the average time-to-completion is 1.5 years in the fully online program. 

Students take 8-week courses, such as Cultural Anthropology, Global Studies Survey, and Orality – The Power of a Story, and build their skills in anthropology, global engagement, and communication. The Orality course is notable for its spotlight on communicating with cultures whose oral traditions are at the core of their humanity. Students complete an internship, too, which enables them to gain practical experiences in cultural anthropology and global studies. 


Columbia International University

Columbia-International-University

The faith-based Master’s in Intercultural Studies program at CIU attracts individuals who want advanced knowledge and skills in fulfilling their gospel-related mission. Students learn to make meaningful connections with people from diverse places and spread the Bible’s message. Indeed, effective people engagement is at the heart of the program with cultural anthropology’s tools and techniques used in the process. 

Students also learn graduate-level research skills that emphasize technical writing, data collection and evaluation, and critical research on contemporary issues. With these skill sets, graduates become qualified for diplomatic positions, church and mission service, and military service, among other career paths. Graduates also have the educational credentials to pursue a doctorate in intercultural studies and become part of academia. 

The Online Master’s in Anthropology program at CIU takes 12 months minimum, but it will depend on your course load and internship. Students complete 30 credit hours. Aside from official transcripts, applicants must submit a church leader reference and application essay. 


Ohio University

The Ohio State University

Ohio’s Master of Social Sciences program covers anthropology, political science, and women and gender studies, meaning students may pursue careers in social sciences and anthropology. The diverse student body consists of teachers, public administrators and other professionals with a strong commitment to addressing social issues in their communities. Secondary teachers also leverage the degree in teaching the history of western civilization and the United States at the college level. 

All courses are delivered completely online, meaning there’s no residency requirement, including on-campus visits. Students complete eight graduate courses or the equivalent of 32 credit hours. The coursework is divided into four history courses and four non-history courses, and students take two courses every semester. Time-to-completion is 18 months or four semesters with this program of study, but it can take three years or less with a one-course-per-semester load. 

Anthropology of Violence and Peace is notable among the courses, highlighting the cultural anthropology behind communal and state violence, religious and ethnic conflicts, and civil wars. Peace and human rights are also discussed. 


AGTS Evangel University

Evangel University

Students may request to transfer credits – up to nine credits – from a foreign school into the Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies program. Advanced standing students may also request exemption from some coursework. 

Evangel University’s Online Master’s in Anthropology curriculum consists of 48 credit hours, and students choose from several concentrations, namely, Intercultural Studies, Global Missions, Islamic Studies, and Member Care. Leaders of the church become more effective in their ministries, thanks to their charismatic intercultural communication skills. The principles and practices of anthropology, theology, psychology and sociology form the foundation of the curriculum. Students understand their roles and responsibilities in gospel work, including social and cultural aspects. 

What Being an Anthropologist Is All About

Anthropology, the scientific study of humanity and related aspects, covers cultures, societies and languages to human biology and behavior. It is concerned with both the past and present, meaning modern humans and their ancestors and the material and intangible aspects of their existence. 

From this definition, anthropologists have the following general roles and responsibilities: 

  • Draw knowledge and methodologies from the biological, physical and social sciences in the examination of the cultures, languages and material artifacts of diverse cultures 
  • Use recording and laboratory equipment, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping tools, measuring tools, and software, among other types of equipment, in their investigations. 
  • Make interdisciplinary 
  • Plan cultural research studies 
  • Customize methods of data collection and analysis based on the specific aspects of the particular subject, project or specialty 
  • Collect relevant information using the methods of observations and interviews, as well as documentation, including written and oral traditions, audio and video recordings, and many others 
  • Organize and manage documentation and databases 
  • Analyze and evaluate laboratory samples, data and other information sources for research purposes, including uncovering the history and patterns of human origins, cultures and everyday lives 
  • Prepare technical reports and presentations for professional 
  • Provide advisory services to organizations regarding the social and cultural impact of their products, programs and policies 

There are three primary fields of study within anthropology: 

  • Physical or biological anthropology studies the evolution of the physical appearance and biology among humans and their ancestors and their closely related primates. 
  • Linguistic anthropology explores the history, development and current usage of languages worldwide. 
  • Cultural anthropology studies the social and cultural causes, consequences and influences of diverse human-related issues, from poverty and overpopulation to natural and manmade disasters 

In contemporary times, anthropologists work with for-profit corporations on business-related projects, such as studying the demand for and impact of their products and services on specific cohorts or cultures. Their field and library research skills are used in market research, and these usually include observations, surveys and interviews. 

Anthropologists typically hold a traditional or online Master’s in Anthropology or other related disciplines, such as cultural resources management and intercultural studies. Work experience toward becoming an anthropologist can be gained with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, usually as fieldworkers and assistants. Many graduate programs require applicants to have relevant work experience before being considered for admission. Thus, it is important to seek related work employment first. 

Students in an online Master’s in Anthropology program engage in didactic coursework and conduct laboratory and field research in local communities and other sites, perhaps even abroad. Archaeological field schools are also common sites where students learn the proper excavation, preservation and storage techniques in archaeology. Students also learn the proper recording, analysis and interpretation of their data from field and laboratory work. 

Internships are also common in these graduate programs. Students learn workplace-ready skills commensurate with their future work as full-fledged anthropologists. These internships also involve working as laboratory technicians, field workers, or research assistants. The internship sites are diverse, from museums, national parks, and archeological digs to nonprofit organizations and historical societies. 

If you want to teach anthropology and its related disciplines at the college level, you must have a Ph.D. in anthropology. This is also true for higher-level leadership positions and international jobs. A Ph.D. degree means complying with the rigorous academic work requirements and completing a doctoral dissertation, which involves 18-30 months of field research. 

Anthropologists are concerned with people’s history, culture and way of life. They must possess effective people skills to establish personal and professional connections with a wide range of people, from the subjects of their research studies to their peers, supervisors and stakeholders. 

The most important people skills among anthropologists are: 

  • The ability to relate to others, including their beliefs, way of life, and norms, is crucial because it’s the best way to establish a person-to-person connection. Even when you don’t agree with them, you can still respect their views because these are part of their cultures, as different as these may be from your own. 
  • Strong communication skills are critical in your dealings with subjects, peers, and supervisors and in writing technical reports, making presentations, and defending your findings. You may also be required to become proficient in a foreign language to make better connections with your subjects, not to mention do away with a translator. 
  • The ability to trust others and to be trustworthy are crucial in establishing a strong sense of cooperation and camaraderie that, in turn, will benefit your work as an anthropologist on the ground and in the boardroom. Honesty is a related trait since it’s essential in building and maintaining trust with others. Once an anthropologist loses the trust of their subjects, it can be difficult to get reliable and relevant information. 
  • Active listening skills mean listening to the other person without interruption and taking in the main points. Then, you take your time thinking about these points and forming a response – in your head – before replying. This is exactly why we have two ears to listen and one mouth to speak! 
  • A genuine and keen interest in others allows them to open up, meaning being more responsive, accurate and complete in their responses to your questions. 
  • Awareness of facial and body language is also a must because we communicate with not just our words but with our voice, gestures and expressions! Anthropologists also study facial and body language since cultures and societies differ. 
  • Good manners and politics differ between cultures, too, and anthropologists must be aware of their subtleties to gain the trust of their subjects, among other purposes.  
  • Keeping an open mind is also valuable in creating respect and trust in others, particularly when the subjects’ way of life and belief systems are different from yours.
  • Having a sense of humor also helps in office and fieldwork, particularly when there’s conflict and tension.  

You’re more likely to exercise good judgment when dealing with diverse people with these people skills. Anthropologists must also possess higher faculty thinking skills, such as analytical and critical thinking skills. Physical stamina is a must for fieldwork, too, and it’s also important to maintain good mental health. 

Being an anthropologist has its unique rewards and risks. On the one hand, anthropologists have numerous exciting career paths that they can pursue aside from being full-fledged anthropologists. Several concentrations, too, allow for more specialist work opportunities, including a focus on museum artifacts, medical procedures, or language eccentricities. 

Anthropologists also make meaningful contributions to society! Aside from studying different cultures, societies and peoples, they can help solve crimes, identify consumer behaviors, and propose better programs for social services and humanitarian initiatives. 

There’s also the opportunity to travel to diverse places in and out of the country. Anthropologists enjoy wonderful experiences and meet plenty of people who enrich their lives. 

On the other hand, becoming an anthropologist doesn’t have a quick and easy path! Intensive education and training are a must, and it starts with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in anthropology. Both degrees are challenging due to the rigorous academic coursework, field and laboratory research, internships, and the thesis. 

Anthropologists also find themselves in difficult working conditions more often than not. Being out in the field with the health risks associated with being in the sun and rain is a challenge, especially when dealing with challenging topics or individuals. 

There’s also the stiff competition for jobs! While there are plenty of qualified candidates, there are only a limited number of anthropology-related positions across several specialties. Here’s some good news: the 2020-2030 job outlook for anthropologists and archaeologists is 7%, or as fast as average, meaning about 800 new jobs are created every year. 

Based on the abovementioned discussion, are you qualified for the job as an anthropologist? You have to decide for yourself, but one thing’s for sure – it’s an exciting time to be an anthropologist

Range of Specializations in An Online Master’s in Anthropology 

Many graduate programs offer sub-specializations in anthropology that fall within one of the three primary areas. These sub-specializations are designed to enable students to address their specific career interests and goals and enable the field of anthropology to make more useful contributions to society.  

  • Public anthropology combines public communications and anthropology to prepare graduate students for public relations and communications, public service, and advocacy roles. The sub-field is also described as the convergence of anthropology as an academic discipline and the general public, providing support and assigning value to its outputs. 
  • Medical anthropology deals with the socio-cultural, linguistic and biological anthropology of health, well-being and illnesses, including their influences and consequences. Practitioners study the distribution, experience and impact of illnesses, the social aspects of treatments and therapies, and the utilization and importance of medical systems. 
  • Theological anthropology tackles the complex history, relationships and influences between humans and their deities. By combining the study of human evolution, behavior and actions with religion and belief systems, its practitioners provide the world with a deeper understanding of humanity and its place in the universe. 
  • Applied anthropology involves the practical applications of anthropology’s theories, principles, and practices, particularly in finding viable solutions to real-world problems. Its practitioners are not only engaged in research projects but can also become involved in activism and advocacy within their communities. Aside from being researchers, applied anthropologists may also be program evaluators, policy analysts, and change agents. 
  • Intercultural study is a multidisciplinary field that emphasizes exploring and understanding different cultures and societies outside of your own. Its practitioners possess both the theoretical framework and the practical skills in their interactions and communications with diverse peoples. It may also deal with intercultural relations, such as cultural identity and power struggles between disparate groups. 
  • Global development and justice is a sub-specialization that encourages practitioners to view anthropology in light of its impact on global development and justice. Topics may include justice studies, peacebuilding, and global development practices. 
  • Cultural and heritage resource management is the professional practice and vocation of heritage asset management, which covers ancient and contemporary art, structures and artifacts, and intangibles. Its practitioners also practice archaeology due to its focus on material culture. The preservation of the past matters just as much as the recording and analyzing contemporary cultures, such as urban culture. 

Graduate programs offering these sub-specializations typically use a combination of core and major courses and concentration courses. Many also use electives to individualize the degree further and, thus, satisfy each student’s unique career aspirations. 

Popular Career Paths for An Online Master’s Degree in Anthropology (or Related Fields)

The most obvious choice is to become an anthropologist because the education and training in a master’s degree program point to said career path. Anthropologists typically choose a sub-specialization, such as linguistic, cultural or physical anthropology, to narrow down their field of study. Doing so means being able to focus your research on specific topics and making more contributions to the field, perhaps being known as its preeminent authority. 

But there are other career paths, too, with a master’s in anthropology degree! 

  • Secondary teachers provide education to high school students about anthropology and social sciences. Many may even be allowed to teach in community colleges but will likely be required to earn a Ph.D. within a specified time to continue employment. 
  • For-profit corporations employ market researchers to collect and analyze information about consumer behavior and actions as these relate to their products, services and overall brand. 
  • Survey researchers collect, review and analyze data for diverse projects, from understanding consumer behavior to collating electorate information. Conducting research and surveys are among their primary duties. 
  • Sociologists collect and analyze information about institutions, groups of people, and cultures to better understand society. 

Keep in mind that while a master’s degree can unlock job opportunities, it’s but a tool in your success! You must also highlight your relevant work and life experiences, professional insights, and personal traits to make you the best fit for the job. Your master’s degree may be a key, but your overall package will keep you in the room! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key differences between a MA and MS in Anthropology? 

While the general education and core courses may be the same for MA and MS in Anthropology degree programs, their approach has key differences. 

Elements of DifferenceMaster of ArtsMaster of Science 
CourseworkEmphasizes theoretical coursework Emphasizes theoretical coursework and practical skills in the field and laboratory  
Focus Arts and humanitiesScience and technology 
Time-to-completion Between one and two years, including thesis and internshipMay take more than two years for a thesis, internship and practicum 
Academic progression Generally considered a terminal degree Typically considered as sufficient preparation for doctorate studies 

What differentiates Anthropology from Sociology and Archaeology?

Anthropology and sociology are considered social science disciplines because both study humans and their societies in different places and times. Their theories, principles, and practices often overlap since their subjects are the same. But there are key differences, including: 

  • Anthropology focuses more on the individuals and their place in their specific culture and society while covering human biology and development, behavior, and linguistics. 
  • Sociology studies groups of people and their relationships with each other and their systems and institutions. Social norms are also studied. 

Anthropology and archeology are closely related, but these disciplines also have their distinctions. Anthropology studies human evolution, development and behavior through the lens of socio-cultural systems and norms. Archaeology studies past societies intending to understand better historical societies and events and human evolution, migration, and history. But anthropologists and archaeologists also work with each other due to the overlap of their professional interests. 

What are the typical credit hours and time-to-completion for online Master’s in Anthropology programs? 

Most programs have a time-to-completion between two and three years, including didactic coursework, internship and thesis requirements. Even 100% of online programs have on-campus and on-site requirements – the online component usually pertains to the didactic coursework. 

Colleges and universities are upfront about the availability of part-time enrollment or if their programs are only for full-time students. Most also give a time limitation for completing their programs, such as six calendar years from the first date of matriculation. 

The number of credit hours varies, too, but most have a 36-credit requirement. The number also includes the credits for internship and thesis requirements. 

What are the typical admission requirements? 

Each school has its specific admission requirements and criteria but the most common include: 

  • A bachelor’s degree in anthropology or a related discipline from a regionally accredited college or university; 
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA 
  • Official transcripts 
  • Letters of recommendations 
  • Personal statement 
  • Statement of purpose 
  • Academic writing sample 
  • Passing an entrance exam and interview 

What’s the typical work environment and pay? 

Anthropologists earned a median annual wage of $66,130 in May 2020. But there’s a wide variation in median annual pay depending on the type of industry, such as anthropologists working in the federal government earning $79,270 and perks. 

Most are employed in scientific, technical and management consulting services and research and development organizations. Many others are in the federal government, as self-employed workers and in engineering services. While many maintain a 9-to-5 schedule in the office and laboratory, many also live in the community where they’re studying. This can mean rugged living conditions, overtime, and strenuous physical work. 

Key Takeaways

  • Anthropologists typically need a master’s degree to apply for entry-level work as anthropologists and other related occupations. 
  • Students may choose from three main specializations – cultural, physical/biological, and linguistics – for their master’s degree, although a generalist degree is also recommended. 
  • Anthropologists enjoy the benefits of a good salary and rewarding work and travel opportunities. 

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor