Applied anthropologists use anthropological knowledge to solve practical problems for agencies, community groups, or other clients. They do fieldwork and employ other methods to gather data in specialties as diverse as cultural resource management, health care, historic preservation, economic development, museum design, forensics, and migrant settlement. Anthropologists' recovery and analyses of the data are aimed at providing solutions to particular problems faced by their clients. Applied anthropologists work both internationally and in the United States. There is a growing demand for anthropologists with practical experience and applied training to work in local, state, and federal government agencies and in private businesses and non-governmental organizations.
Graduate study leading to a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology, with an applied focus, is offered by the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures. Degree requirements include a thesis, a one-semester or one-summer long internship (5 hours credit), an oral exam, and 25 hours of graduate course work. Students may elect to specialize either in applied archaeology, including bioarchaeology, or in applied cultural anthropology.
The program in applied archaeology focuses on cultural resources management, including preparation in archaeological method and theory, proposal writing, consulting practices, and ethics. Specialty areas include archaeological surface survey and excavation methods; artifact analysis; settlement pattern analysis; environmental archaeology; and osteoarchaeology. The areal emphasis is the Southeastern U.S., although principles and methods are adaptable to application anywhere.
The applied cultural anthropology specialization emphasizes environmental anthropology, medical anthropology, and the exploration of cultural diversity. Faculty expertise spans the Southeast U.S., Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East, and students can choose to pursue thesis topics in the U.S. or internationally. Ethnographic research methods, as practiced in applied settings, are emphasized. The program focuses on preparing students for placement in the public and private sectors as cultural specialists, as well as preparing them for further graduate study.
Click to be directed to the Office of Graduate Studies at Mississippi State University for information about applying to graduate programs and online applications.