Master's Degree Programs in Linguistic Anthropology

by Kate Prudchenko, Demand Media Google

Anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of culture and human behavior, and linguistic anthropology is an area of anthropology that focuses on language. Students interested in studying linguistic anthropology often take courses in this specialty while they are getting their bachelor's degrees. After graduation, students interested in pursuing a master's degree in linguistic anthropology have the option of pursuing either a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in the field, and choosing between a thesis or a non-thesis degree program.

Linguistic Anthropology Career Prospects

Linguistic anthropology focuses on language, discourse and how power is gained, held and lost through language. This field is an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural specialty because it is a combination of linguistics and anthropology. Students who graduate with master's degrees in linguistic anthropology are mainly employed as research assistants to full-time professors in anthropology, and in linguistic laboratories and universities departments. A master’s degree in this field also entitles graduates to work as community college instructors, teaching introductory anthropology and linguistics courses. Students who are interested in teaching at the university level, running their own research labs or conducting independent research tend to get their doctoral degrees in the field.

Linguistic Anthropology Prerequisites

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, most master's programs in linguistics do not require students to have an undergraduate major in anthropology. However, most programs do require that students have a certain amount of undergraduate experience in anthropology so they can succeed in the required graduate school coursework. Requirements vary, but most programs require students to have at least 12 credits or four undergraduate courses in anthropology. These courses typically include one or two introductory to anthropology courses and two upper-division courses such as anthropology theory, physical anthropology, anthropological research methods, linguistic anthropology and cultural anthropology.

Linguistic Anthropology Requirements

Depending on the university and the program, students interested in pursuing master's degrees in linguistic anthropology typically have to complete 30 to 46 credits of coursework. In the first year of the program, students take core course requirements, and in the second year program students take electives. Examples of possible core courses are anthropological theory, anthropological ethics, linguistic anthropology methods and linguistic anthropology laboratory. These courses give students a strong foundation in the field, as well as experience in conducting research work. Examples of possible elective options are folklore theory and techniques, language and power, pragmatics and second language acquisition.

Linguistic Anthropology Thesis Options

Many master's degree programs in linguistic anthropology give students a choice between conducting an independent research study and writing a thesis, or taking additional courses to receive the same credit hours. Students who are interested in pursuing doctoral degrees in linguistic anthropology or in working in research laboratories after graduation often choose to do a thesis. Students who are interested in teaching and/or taking additional electives in linguistics, anthropology or education, and have plans to work outside of the research environment, often choose the non-thesis option.

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About the Author

Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.

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