Complete Guide to an Online Anthropology Degree

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Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
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Anthropology students normally obtain at least a bachelor’s degree from a four-year program. Online two-year associate programs in anthropology are also available for those who do not wish to undertake four years of study. During their undergraduate degree, students take basic anthropological courses on cultures, archeology, history, and civilizations. They can also choose electives in specialized anthropology topics such as forensic, linguistic, or biological anthropology. Upon graduation, they can apply their communication, research, and data skills to a wide range of professions, such as business, public health, education, or the arts. Those who do not wish to pursue graduate degrees often double major in another desired field to broaden their job possibilities.

Anthropology students who wish to obtain positions in teaching, research, or higher management go on to pursue graduate degrees in anthropology. Beyond offering a wider job pool, a graduate degree in anthropology allows for greater specialization and independent research in the student’s topic of choice. Museum curators, non-profit managers, archeologists, and forensic anthropologists all typically require applicants to have a graduate degree. Those who wish to become a university professor must first obtain a doctorate degree by completing a dissertation alongside departmental faculty. Read More

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Anthropology Degrees (15)

Overview of Available Online Anthropology Degrees

Anthropology students normally obtain at least a bachelor’s degree from a four-year program. Two-year associate programs in anthropology are also available for those who do not wish to undertake four years of study. During their undergraduate degree, students take basic anthropological courses on cultures, archeology, history, and civilizations. They can also choose electives in specialized anthropology topics such as forensic, linguistic, or biological anthropology. Upon graduation, they can apply their communication, research, and data skills to a wide range of professions, such as business, public health, education, or the arts. Those who do not wish to pursue graduate degrees often double major in another desired field to broaden their job possibilities.

Anthropology students who wish to obtain positions in teaching, research, or higher management go on to pursue graduate degrees in anthropology. Beyond offering a wider job pool, a graduate degree in anthropology allows for greater specialization and independent research in the student’s topic of choice. Museum curators, non-profit managers, archeologists, and forensic anthropologists all typically require applicants to have a graduate degree. Those who wish to become a university professor must first obtain a doctorate degree by completing a dissertation alongside departmental faculty.

Online Associate Degrees in Anthropology

Online associate degree programs lay the groundwork for further study in the field of anthropology. Associate programs normally require 60 semester credits, or 20 classes, encompassing general education, core anthropology and elective courses. Social, cultural, and biological anthropology courses build the academic foundation for specialized electives or further education in the field.

Depending on the program, students must have a high school education or pass proficiency tests in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics to be accepted into the program. Associate degree-holders may qualify for entry-level positions in social work, museum work, or human resources. Upon completion of an associate degree, credits can then be transferred to a bachelor’s program, leaving the student with fewer requirements for completion.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Anthropology

Bachelor’s degrees in anthropology establish skills in communications, fieldwork, research methodologies, and data development in the humanistic and scientific study of human culture. To apply, students must have completed a high school education. Bachelor’s degrees usually take about four years to complete, but students who already have some course credits may be eligible to graduate on a faster track.

Students must complete the necessary general education requirements as well as the additional required credits in anthropology. Depending on the school and program, a bachelor’s degree requires about 120 semester credits, 30 of which must be anthropology coursework, equaling about 40 classes in total. Students can choose to major or minor in anthropology depending on the number of anthropology credits they complete. Undergraduates who wish to enter the job market directly after completing their bachelor’s degree often choose to double major in another desirable field in order to widen their potential career paths. Common second majors for anthropology students include business, communications, international relations, public health, and social work. About 20% of anthropology undergraduates go on to pursue graduate degrees in anthropology or a complementary field, such as sociology, teaching, criminology, journalism, or marketing.

Because anthropology draws on a large educational foundation and diverse skill set, recipients of a bachelor’s degree in anthropology might work in market research conducting focus groups or surveys. They may also oversee public interest research for government, community, or international organizations. Additionally, anthropology majors may go on to work as assistants in academic research, museum curating, or archeological fieldwork. Higher-level positions require graduate degrees at the master’s or doctorate level.

Online Master's Degrees in Anthropology

A master’s degree prepares students for work as specialized anthropologists and archeologists in research organizations, government, and consulting firms. A bachelor’s degree, often in anthropology or a related field, is required to apply for a master’s program. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA, and typically need to have taken the GRE or GMAT. A master’s program requires 30 to 40 credit hours and takes anywhere from one and a half to three years to complete. About a third of graduate coursework is dedicated to the master’s thesis, an independent study or academic writing completed alongside a team of academic advisors that addresses a question within the topic area.

In addition to specialized coursework and independent research, master’s students gain experience through fieldwork in their subfield of choice. As defined by the American Anthropological Association, anthropology is generally divided into four subfields: archeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Some schools offer special programs in forensic anthropology, the use of biological anthropology in the criminal justice system. Those specializing in biological anthropology must take extra science courses.

Master’s level courses provide in-depth investigations of specialized anthropological theory, research, and its application to real world questions. Each subfield of anthropology can be used in professional careers, whether to interpret history for a museum, to solve health, education, or conflict issues, or to provide consumer data.

Online Certificates in Anthropology

Many certificates in anthropology are available for those wishing to continue their education without committing to a full degree program. Certificate programs are often part-time, one-year commitments. While they often do not require the GRE or GMAT, programs do normally have a minimum GPA requirement. Postgraduate certificates in anthropology are available for those who have completed their bachelor’s degree but do not wish to pursue a master’s. Certificate programs can also help students to decide whether they wish to continue on to a full degree while building up graduate-level course credits.

Accreditation for Online Anthropology Degrees

Schools offering anthropology degrees must have received either national or regional accreditation from a recognized agency. The U.S. Department of Education provides a database of accrediting agencies on the national, regional, and programmatic level. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also has an online list of their recognized regional accreditation agencies. Regional accreditation is the highest form of academic recognition.

While there is no specific programmatic accreditation for anthropology programs, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) publishes the annual AnthroGuide, compiling hundreds of academic member programs into a comprehensive directory. The AAA also provides extensive information about careers, internships, and fieldwork opportunities in anthropology. The Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs (COPAA) provides further information about higher education institutions and programs in anthropology across the nation.

Certification Process

Forensic anthropologists must undergo a rigorous examination process covering theory, ethics, and practice in order to obtain certification from the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA). Personal, academic, and professional records are taken into consideration. Certified forensic anthropologists are publicly identified by the ABFA for the consultation of medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials, and attorneys.

Careers in Anthropology

Anthropology covers a wide range of educational topics from the biological sciences to cultural psychology and history. Anthropology students learn to conduct group fieldwork, formulate and test hypotheses, work with data, and employ diverse research methodologies. While potential professions often don’t include the term “anthropology" in the title, an anthropology degree prepares future graduates for careers in business, marketing, consulting, journalism, nonprofit work, public health, social work, international relations, criminal justice, government, and academics. The number of anthropology students who become professional anthropologists or archeologists is small in comparison to those who go on to apply their anthropology degree in other areas.

  • Anthropologists or Archeologists: These scientists research the origin, behavior, and evolution of humans through the study of cultures, languages, and archeological remains. They work for research organizations, government, or consulting firms, sometimes traveling on-site for long periods of fieldwork. Professional anthropologists must hold a master’s or doctorate degree in anthropology or archeology.
  • Archivists, Curators, and Conservators: Museum archivists, curators, and conservators work on exhibitions, events, educational materials, community projects, independent research, permanent records, and collections. Specialized museum workers must have a master’s degree or higher.
  • Biological Anthropologists: Biological anthropologists study physiology, nutrition, and pathology at health ministries, international health organizations, and medical schools. They may conduct research on the evolutionary origins, lifestyle, or dietary changes behind modern health issues. They can also work as specialized forensic anthropologists assessing skeletal remains to provide medical and legal consulting in criminal justice cases.
  • Corporate Anthropologists: Corporate anthropologists apply their background in social and cultural anthropology to analyze workplace efficiency, product design, or intercultural marketing.
  • Development Anthropologists: Development and international aid workers use their anthropological background to plan social projects, work as cultural mediators, and assess the success of organizational work. Development anthropologists study aid work and must have an extensive knowledge of the local community.
  • Professors: University professors teach classes and publish original research. Professors must have PhDs.
  • Public Sector Careers: Government jobs for anthropologists may include policy-making and planning, lobbying, grass-roots advocacy, and social service agencies.
  • Secondary Teachers: Teachers with a background in anthropology go on to teach pre-university subjects such as history, religious education, sociology, geography, or biology.
  • Visual Anthropologists: Visual anthropologists work in film, television, multimedia, marketing, museums, and political campaigns.

Common Online Classes for Anthropology Students

In addition to general education requirements in the sciences and humanities, online anthropology students must take courses specific to their field. Available classes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Introduction, Method, and Theory of Archeology
  • Anthropology of Activism
  • Culture Through Film
  • Creating Museums
  • Researching Environment and Culture
  • Ethnology of Immigrant Life
  • Applied Urban Ethnography
  • Reading Ethnographies: Ethnographic Theory and Practice
  • Anthropological Fieldwork Abroad
  • Paleoanthropology
  • Communicating Anthropology
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Biocultural Approaches to Food
  • Forensic-Bioarcheology

References

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