Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Anthropology without doctorates

I missed this when it came out (thanks to @AnthroDoula on Twitter for pointing out the InsideHigherEd report): the AAA recently released a study of the career paths of 833 Masters graduates in Anthropology. Among the many interesting findings:
"Among MAs working in non-academic jobs, nearly 30% have jobs that require education and training in anthropology (e.g., cultural resources specialist, ethnographer)."

"Among workplace preparation skills, over three-fourths of respondents ranked technical writing for proposals and grants as the most important skill for MA curricula, followed by project design, development and management."

"Overall, Masters graduates expressed high satisfaction with the quality, depth, breadth and relevance of their education and skill sets. Only 9% were somewhat or very dissatisfied."

From the Inside Higher Ed piece:
"People really felt that their degree was pretty central to their career," said (Shirley)Fiske (one of three co-authors). She added that respondents seemed to identify more strongly with being an anthropologist the further away they were from receiving their degree. It was, she said, evidence of the discipline's particular training and molding. "Anthropology, even more than some of social sciences, creates a distinctive worldview," she said.

It's wonderful the AAA is engaged in this kind of research. It's interesting that so many folks with terminal masters view themselves as anthropologists. Wouldn't it be fascinating for a similar study to find out how many anthropologists view themselves as scientists? Surveys of the membership, while tedious, could provide a more solid foundation for crafting long range plan and mission statements in the future.

1 comment:

  1. My Anthropology Masters was not intended to be a terminal degree. I was a PhD candidate (ABD) when my research was interrupted. A bad academic job market, problems at home and a technology job opportunity forced me into a new career. My degrees, while completely unrelated to my new career, allowed me to enter the emerging software industry. I'm now ready to retire (in 8 days) and, looking back, it's been a satisfying 36 years. However, I have always felt very much an anthropologist and continue to identify myself as such. I believe my anthropological perspective has enabled me to see things a bit differently than my "techie" colleagues. It continues as a strong influence on my daily life and still colors my world view.