Anthropology is the scientific study of the human condition, and getting a PhD in Anthropology can help you become a specialist in a subject matter and able to conduct independent research.
Whether you’re interested in history, language, evolution, art, or another aspect of humanity, an anthropology doctoral program can give you the opportunity to delve deeply into what fascinates you. Graduates may pursue careers in academia and the business world or even work independently as writers and consultants.
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A doctoral degree is the highest academic qualification in anthropology, so you also have the opportunity to earn respect as a scholar due to the amount of dedication required.
Online PhD in Anthropology Programs
Anthropology is a broad field that looks at the history and development of human beings as a whole as well as how different cultures and societies are formed.
For example, an anthropologist might study migration, types of governments, sign language, or the effects of health policies. Most online PhD in Anthropology programs will allow you to choose a specialization and contribute original insights through in-depth research.
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Anthropology PhD programs are usually highly customizable, but you’ll probably spend your first year studying general anthropological theories. After this, most programs offer the following specializations:
- Archeology. Archeology aims to find out how people lived in the past through material objects that they left behind, such as writings, ruins, and fossils.
- Cultural Anthropology. Cultural anthropology looks at both the differences and similarities of human cultures by studying their beliefs, legal systems, and social norms.
- Linguistic Anthropology. Linguistic anthropology studies how language emerges and how it’s influenced by culture and social structures.
- Biological Anthropology. Biological anthropology examines how human beings evolved as a species and how biology affects human behavior.
A PhD is research-focused, so you’ll likely take additional courses on research design, data analysis, and fieldwork. Much of your anthropology PhD program will probably be spent working on your dissertation.
Most anthropology PhD graduates work as professors in their fields of expertise. Still, many enter into diverse industries, such as human resources, marketing, community development, data science, and museum curation. The industries you qualify for will depend on your chosen courses and specialization.
Anthropology Careers & Salaries
Since anthropology is so wide-ranging, a doctorate in anthropology can help prepare you for a variety of careers.
Traditionally, most PhD anthropology graduates enter the field of academia as professors and researchers. Aside from anthropology, it’s possible to teach cultural studies, linguistics, cognitive science, and other departments if you have a related research specialty.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median yearly salaries for careers related to anthropology.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers||$133,380|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers||$119,860|
|Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary||$97,340|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Anthropologists and Archeologists||$61,910|
|Market Research Analysts||$63,920|
|Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers||$50,120|
Since PhD in Anthropology programs are typically very flexible, the careers that you can pursue will often depend on your program specialization.
Some PhD graduates work for businesses. Since they’re trained in critical thinking and understanding diverse cultures and people, they may become marketing specialists, translators, writers, or journalists or pursue other roles that involve communication.
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Other common career tracks include data analysis, user experience research, or market research. These areas involve conducting surveys and studying how consumers behave.
Some of the most lucrative positions for anthropology PhD graduates include marketing and public relations management, postsecondary teaching, and data analysis for technology companies.
Anthropology PhD Curriculum & Courses
In an anthropology doctorate program, you may be required to take these core courses:
- Theory and Practice of Anthropology: This course surveys anthropology as a whole, from its historical development to classic theories and important modern themes.
- Cultural Anthropology: This course involves analyzing how societies form their own cultures, including laws, politics, religion, and social groupings, and making comparisons across cultures.
- Biological Anthropology: This class covers the evolutionary history of human beings as a species and the emergence of biological variations.
- Archeology: Archeology involves studying material objects used by humans, such as artifacts, debris, and tools, to gain insights into human history and societies.
- Linguistic Anthropology: This course examines the connections between language and culture through topics like language acquisition and expressions of social differences in language.
- Practice of Ethnography: In this class, you can gain experience conducting ethnography, which involves observing and even participating directly in a culture, doing interviews, and collecting genealogies.
- Sociocultural Theory: This course gives an overview of how societal factors—such as family dynamics, social norms, and cultural beliefs—affect psychological development.
- Research Methods in Anthropology: This class is an overview of various anthropological research methods and frameworks, from defining research problems to conducting observations and writing grants.
- Quantitative Research: This course dives into quantitative research methods, such as probability, simple and multiple linear regression, analysis of variance, and estimation.
- Dissertation Research: You’ll likely spend most of the program doing independent, original research that is based on data. You’ll probably be required to present this research to a panel of expert examiners in order to graduate.
Aside from these core classes, most PhD programs will allow you to pick the rest of your coursework from various electives.
Anthropology PhD applicants typically have to submit these requirements:
- Personal statement. This is a formal essay explaining why you’re interested in the program, usually with a research proposal included.
- Official transcripts. You’ll probably be asked to submit transcripts of all of your previous undergraduate and graduate work.
- Recommendation letters. PhD applicants are often asked to submit two or three recommendation letters from academic and professional references.
- Writing sample. Most programs will want writing samples from previous academic works, such as a thesis.
Some PhD programs will require you to take the GMAT or GRE and submit your score, though not all schools request this.
Anthropology Ph.D. Programs Accreditation
One of the top criteria for a credible anthropology PhD program is regional accreditation. Schools are only awarded regional accreditation once they have proven that they offer high-quality education.
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The US Department of Education maintains a list of accredited schools across the US. Universities, businesses, and other employers may grant more validity to PhDs from accredited schools. Studying at an accredited school can also be an eligibility factor for federal financial aid.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are many possible sources of financial aid for an anthropology PhD. Many PhD programs across the country offer partial or full funding to their students.
You can also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine your eligibility for government financial aid. You might also be able to do research and teaching assistantships at your school or receive a scholarship based on your specialization.
What Can You Do with a PhD in Anthropology?
The critical thinking, data analysis, and cultural awareness skills that you can gain from an anthropology PhD are applicable to many fields.
Many anthropology PhD graduates become professors at the undergraduate or graduate level while conducting research or fieldwork. Market research is another possible path for graduates. From your program, you’ll likely have experience with conducting interviews and surveys and using various research methods.
Another option could be to work in fields such as human resources, community management, media, and marketing, all of which benefit from having a deeper understanding of people.
How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Anthropology Online?
An online PhD in Anthropology usually takes 3 to 5 years to complete if you study full-time. Most PhD programs will expect you to do extensive research in your field of study and produce a dissertation.
Working on your research can take a long time, especially as you gather data or even travel for fieldwork. Anthropology doctoral programs that don’t require a dissertation can generally be completed in 3 years with full-time study.
Is a PhD in Anthropology Worth It?
Yes, a PhD in Anthropology is worth it for many students. An anthropology PhD program can help you develop many skills that are relevant across several industries, including academic writing, quantitative research, and holistic problem-solving.
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Many of the top jobs for anthropology PhD graduates are in demand.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 12% job growth for postsecondary teachers over the next ten years, which is faster than average. Market research is another thriving sector, with an estimated 22% job growth expected for market research analysts over the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Anthropology Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The California Institute of Integral Studies offers a PhD in Anthropology that emphasizes the integration of activism and scholarship. It requires the completion of 36 units and includes 3 years of coursework and a dissertation.
The program is designed to help students learn how to apply their skills in research and policy analysis and participate in scholarly debates.
The California Institute of Integral Studies is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Pennsylvania State University offers a PhD in Social Studies Education that includes the study of anthropology and related subjects.
Courses are available both online and on campus. Classes include Research on Social Studies Education, Teaching Citizenship for Civic Engagement, Teaching and Learning Historical Literacy with Media, and more.
Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Arizona offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Services. The program features accelerated courses that are 6 or 9 weeks long. Students usually take just one course at a time.
Students in the program have opportunities to design research and learn how to incorporate social justice into the operations of human services organizations.
The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Doctoral Degree in Anthropology Online
Getting a PhD can be challenging but also rewarding. Most PhD in Anthropology programs can provide you with rigorous training in research and help you position yourself at the frontier of developing knowledge.
As with an online master’s in anthropology program, if you enroll in an online anthropology PhD program, you have the advantage of not needing to live close to your school. At most, you may only have to be present on campus a few times a year. Online anthropology degrees are also known for their convenience and flexibility.
If you’re interested in pursuing an anthropology PhD, you can start exploring doctoral programs from accredited schools to find the ones that cater to your research interests and career aspirations.