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After W&M

There are many ways to approach a degree in Anthropology. The field approaches the complexity of social life from many different angles. Each angle requires a different set of skills, and no two anthropology majors leave W&M with exactly the same skill set.

Because of this, the paths leading from an undergraduate degree in anthropology branch out in all directions. Anthropology majors tend to be adventurous people. It is just about impossible to guess where a "typical" major will go next - because there is no "typical" Anthro major. Some plan to jump right into graduate school or a career. Others plan to take some time for less career-oriented activities, such as travel or volunteer work.

Whether seeking a graduate degree in anthropology or some other career option, you should use the resources of the Cohen Career Center. At the very least, it can provide an essential overview of issues you will want to think about.

Careers in Anthropology

William & Mary's liberal arts curriculum teaches broad communication and organization skills. The specific skills you learn as an anthropology major will depend on how you focused your degree. Maybe you learned something about remote sensing while working on a class project. Or perhaps you developed your interview skills while doing your Honors project.

If you plan on going straight into a career after W&M, it is important to take the time to write down specific skills while you work on your resume. The field of anthropology is not as well known as some other liberal arts majors, and many potential employers need you to spell out your abilities for them.

Most anthropologists in the U.S. today work outside of traditional academic establishments. They work in sectors associated with culture, such as museums. They may produce programs targeted toward specific groups. They may be a part of efforts to assess how the public uses or perceives products and programs.

Corporations developing new products hire anthropologists. The National Park Service hires anthropologists to help them understand how the public uses park facilities. Anthropologists work in the arena of international development, education and tourism. Primate conservation initiatives often include anthropologists.

Archaeologists tend to work in the cultural resource management or public archaeology sectors. These careers involve identifying, evaluating, and preserving historic and prehistoric sites.

Most of these kinds of jobs require at least a master's degree.

Graduate School

Often, students plan their coursework to prepare for graduate study in anthropology. Graduate schools in anthropology expect prospective applicants to have a firm idea about the research they plan to do. At the very least, you will have to choose a subfield or combination of subfields before applying for graduate work.

Discuss your plans with your major advisor. They can recommend specific courses that will support your application. They can also recommend specific schools that could support your goals.

Deadlines for graduate applications vary, but most will fall before the beginning of the second semester. Graduate Record Exams, grade transcripts, recommendation letters, and a detailed personal statement are almost universally required. You should make arrangements with plenty of lead-time to ask for recommendation letters. Circulate your personal statement to faculty members when you ask for recommendation letters. The personal statement can assist faculty members in composing a letter that describes your qualifications for what you wish do. Do this early in your senior year, or even late in your junior year.

Many students do not apply to graduate school during their senior year. This may actually increase chances for a successful graduate school experience. You may have a better sense of your own direction and some real-world experience that will be attractive to admissions committees. Many great anthropologists have come to the field years after their undergraduate degrees - even into their 30s and 40s. Although you may have left W&M, you still should consider the faculty as sources of advice - stay in touch! If we can't answer your question directly, we should be able to point you in the right direction for answers.