What Can I Do With an Anthropology Degree?

TBS Staff Writers
Updated January 8, 2024
An anthropology degree focuses on the development of past and present human societies. Depending on your interests and skills, you can use an

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An anthropology degree can lead to several interesting careers in anthropology or related fields. If you want to become an anthropologist, archeologist, conservationist, or professor, then an anthropology degree places you at the intersection of history, culture, and human evolution. With an anthropology degree, you can focus on the past or the present, work with historical narratives and artifacts to better understand human history, or create objects and stories that will inform humanity in the future.

An anthropology degree focuses on the development of past and present human societies. With courses in a variety of topics and disciplines, an anthropology degree will study language, culture, history, biology, and more. Anthropology degrees are available at every level with traditional and online anthropology degree options.

Like many humanities degrees, an anthropology degree segues into several careers and industries. Anthropologists work in a wide range of places, including academia, government, corporations, and non–profit organizations. Depending on your interests and skills, you can use an anthropology degree to start a job in education, archaeology, advocacy, historical preservation, tourism, law, or criminal justice.

Your degree level will have a direct impact on your career path and prospects. With an associate degree, you might find work as a museum employee, social work assistant, or other entry–level positions. A bachelor’s degree in anthropology prepares you for work in journalism, advocacy, or museum curation. A master’s degree in anthropology prepare you for leadership roles in many fields and industries. A Ph.D. in anthropology will qualify you to lead groundbreaking research teams or teach at the university level.

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The “What Can You Do With This Degree?” Series

What Kind of Accreditation Should My Degree Program Have?

Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities are evaluated and validated . Colleges and universities that have earned accreditation have met the standards set by accrediting organizations. These organizations are comprised of faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. Legitimate regional and national accrediting organizations are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Typically, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes the same institutions, although CHEA recognition isn’t mandatory. A college or university must be accredited by a Department of Education-recognized accreditor in order for its students to receive federal financial aid.

For a detailed look at the differences between regional and national accreditation, check out What Do I Need to Know About College Accreditation?

What is Regional Accreditation?
Regional accreditation is the signifier of quality education; this includes the currency of curriculum, credentials of educators, and credibility of degrees. Regional accrediting agencies only accredit institutions in their geographical area.
The Six Regional Accrediting Agencies

To find out if a college or university on your list is regionally accredited, check the Department of Education’s Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

What Is National Accreditation?
National accreditation is often perceived as a less rigorous standard than regional accreditation and is governed by educational accreditors agencies that are not restricted by region or geography. This means that one such agency can provide accreditation to any college or university in the U.S. that meets its criteria. National accreditation is commonplace among trade schools, religious schools, and for–profit colleges.
Most regionally–accredited colleges do not accept or recognize credits or degrees earned from colleges that lack regional accreditation. However, national accreditation may be a useful indicator of quality for students pursuing vocational training, competency-based education, or other education models that operate under a for-profit model.

To learn more about National Accreditation, check out Understanding National Accreditation.

For help safely navigating the For–Profit Sector, check out our Guide to For–Profit Colleges: What You Need to Know.

What is Programmatic Accreditation?
Programmatic accreditation certifies that an institution’s program, department, or college has met the standards of the programmatic accrediting agency. While programmatic accreditation agencies often have national jurisdiction, programmatic accreditation is not institutional national accreditation. In fact, programmatic accreditation often coexists with regional accreditation. In some disciplines, a degree with programmatic accreditation may even be required to earn a license or enter professional practice.
When it comes to anthropology, there are no major programmatic accreditation organizations, so choosing a well–respected program at a school with regional accreditation can help ensure that the education you receive is of the highest standards.

The easiest way to determine accreditation status is to contact your school of choice, or visit the website for any of the above accreditation agencies. Each provides a searchable database of accredited institutions and degree programs. You can also look at the Department of Education’s database of all recognized accreditors within its purview.

Or, to learn a little more about navigating the tricky accreditation landscape, check out Accreditation of Colleges and Universities: Who’s Accrediting the Accreditors?

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What Kinds of Anthropology Degrees Are There?

Associate Degree in Anthropology

An associate degree in anthropology is an excellent way to explore the field while earning general college credits. An anthropology degree at the associate level will not qualify you for higher–level positions in the field, but it can be a good steppingstone on your career path. This degree usually consists of 60 credits and takes students about two years to complete. An associate degree in anthropology will help you develop an understanding of the discipline and build a base of pertinent skills for your future job or subsequent degree.

What Courses Will I Take in an Anthropology Associate Program?

  • Foreign Language
  • Introduction to Archeology
  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Introduction to Human Communication
  • Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
  • Physical Anthropology

What’s the Difference Between an Associate of Arts and an Associate of Science in Anthropology?

Depending on the school you choose, you will have a choice between an associate of arts (AA) and an associate of science (AS) in anthropology. An AA degree includes more core courses in arts and humanities alongside your anthropology courses, while an AS degree focuses more on supplementary science and math study alongside your major coursework.

Bachelor of Anthropology

A bachelor’s in anthropology degree will prepare you for a variety of jobs in the field and will include more in depth study than an associate degree program. Some bachelor’s degree programs will offer specializations within the study of anthropology, including specialties like archeology, bicultural studies, or culture and linguistics. Other programs may allow you to choose a minor that will complement your studies in anthropology, setting you apart as you enter the job market. Most bachelor’s in anthropology degree programs consist of 120 credits and take around four years to complete.

What Courses Will I Take in an Anthropology Bachelor’s Program?

  • Art and Culture
  • History of Anthropological Thought
  • Human Evolution
  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • Introduction to Prehistory
  • Introduction to World Archeology

What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology?

The bachelor’s degree option you choose will depend on what your school offers and what type of career you’d like to pursue. A bachelor of arts (BA) will focus more on arts and humanities core courses alongside your anthropology coursework. A bachelor of science (BS) will include similar anthropology coursework paired with more core courses in STEM fields.

Master of Anthropology

A master’s in anthropology degree can prepare you for a career in the field, often giving you an advantage over professionals who only hold a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree programs in this field usually consist of 30–40 credit hours and take around two years to complete. Your master’s program will allow you to choose a specialization from topics like biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. Most programs will include a thesis or capstone project requirement, where you’ll conduct original research in your area of interest.

What Courses Will I Take in an Anthropology Master’s Program?

  • Animals and Humans
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Contemporary Issues in Anthropology
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Research Methods
  • Social and Cultural Theory

What’s the Difference Between a Master of Arts and a Master of Science in Anthropology?

Most master’s degree programs in anthropology are master of arts (MA) programs, as opposed to master of science (MS) degree programs. MA programs in anthropology will include coursework that is mostly grounded in the arts and humanities, while an MS program will focus more on the STEM disciplines in addition to anthropology.

Doctorate in Anthropology

A doctorate in anthropology is the highest degree available in the field, reserved for those who wish to participate in research or provide instruction at the university level. It is common for your doctoral anthropology degree to offer a choice of specialization such as archaeology, bioarchaeology, evolutionary anthropology or sociocultural anthropology. Most Ph.D. programs in anthropology take four to eight years to complete.

What Courses Will I Take in an Anthropology Doctoral Program?

  • Contemporary Anthropological Theory
  • History of Ethnological Theory
  • Linguistic Theory and Practice
  • Principles of Archaeology
  • Principles of Cultural Anthropology
  • Scientific Methods in Archaeology
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What Kind of Licensing or Certification Do I Need?

There are many careers you can enter with an anthropology degree that do not require any additional license or certification. Expectations may vary based on your role and employer, but for the most part, an anthropology degree from a respected and regionally accredited university is sufficient to work in the field. Some forensic anthropologists work for government bureaus or other high–security organizations and may require special training and security clearance, but not necessarily a certificate or license.

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What Can You Do With an Anthropology Degree?

If you are wondering, “What can I do with an anthropology degree?” there are plenty of options. Your anthropology degree can be the key to a challenging and exciting array of Life, Physical, and Social Sciences Careers. Many anthropology majors and graduates also go into law or government careers. For more detail, check out a few of these top anthropology degree jobs:

  • Anthropologists
  • Archaeologists
  • Forensic Science Technicians
  • Geographers
  • Historians
  • Lawyers
  • Legislators
  • Political Scientists
  • Sociologists
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What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With an Anthropology Degree?

Your anthropology degree could open the door to a career in a variety of fields. Salary can vary widely based on role, industry, and level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides median annual salary information as of 2018 for these top anthropology degree jobs:

CareerMedian Salary
Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers$48,400
Survey Researchers$57,700
Forensic Science Technicians$58,230
Anthropologists and Archeologists$62,410
Postsecondary Teachers$78,470
Political Scientists$117,570
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Are There Professional Anthropology Associations or Societies I Should Join?

Professional associations are a fantastic way to make connections in your field, learn about valuable seminars or certifications, and improve your own credentials. The association or associations you choose to join will depend to an extent on the career path you take. Look for anthropology associations that correspond with your academic or professional concentration.

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