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nywnorb120191

Anthro departments that focus exclusively on sociocultural anthropology?

8 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hi everyone! I'm planning on applying next fall to PhD programs (since this year I'm finishing up my Master's thesis that I intend to defend sometime next year), but I'm just curious to know if there are any more anthro departments that solely focus on sociocultural anthropology? I'm aware of Johns Hopkins (and it's basically #1 on my list because of that), but I was wondering if there were any others. The reason is that, though I understand the logic behind the four fields approach, I've already spent 2 1/2 years on my master's coursework and i don't want to spend another 3 years in a PhD program doing more coursework (when I'm pretty set in what I research). Also I plan on working or doing postdocs abroad so the importance of one's formation in the four-field approach in the US academic market isn't *that* important to me. 

Thanks!

Edited by nywnorb120191

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Princeton is known for being a sociocultural department.  I believe Duke and UC Davis (S-Wing) also have standalone sociocultural PhD programs.

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George Washington U focuses on sociocultural anthro and "anthropology of public life." I think it's also worth it to consider what your specific interests are and look for cultural programs that fit with them--for example, there are some programs that heavily focus on specific areas of cultural anthro, like socioenvironmental anthropology, social movements, etc. There are also departments that might have a more specific geographic focus. 

A lot of programs do use the "four field approach," but I doubt that any required classes outside your subfield would take up more than a semester or two? The program I'm starting this Fall requires first year students to take one seminar in biological and archaeological anthro first semester, and one in cultural anthro and linguistics the second semester. The rest I'll be able to choose on my own, so realistically that's just one class during one semester where I'm taking anything besides cultural coursework. It varies for different programs, but I don't think any school will require you to take more than a year of those types of courses. I think you're going to have to do a solid amount of coursework in the beginning of any PhD program, so a class or two outside cultural anthro wouldn't be too bad, IMO.

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One thing to note: regardless of whether or not a department is four field or focuses solely on sociocultural, it's likely that you will be required to do 2-3 years of coursework.  Even if you enter with a Master's, departments want to train students in their particular methodological and theoretical grounding.  What I'm saying is, if you're looking at sociocultural focused departments in order to cut down on time to degree, you might be out of luck.  All the aforementioned programs are certainly strong and worth an application, but I don't know if I would recommend limiting yourself so early in the application process.

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Thanks for the replies/suggestions!

Yeah, that's what I appear to be noticing as well (that schools generally don't take MA credits from outside of their institution so it's pretty much impossible to cut down on the number of years it would take to finish). Obviously the #1 criteria for choosing to apply to X program would be fit, so if the fit is great at a four-field program then I'd definitely apply to that program, but I was just curious to see if there were any other programs that had an exclusively socio-cultural focus.

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On 5/1/2017 at 8:00 PM, nywnorb120191 said:

Thanks for the replies/suggestions!

Yeah, that's what I appear to be noticing as well (that schools generally don't take MA credits from outside of their institution so it's pretty much impossible to cut down on the number of years it would take to finish). Obviously the #1 criteria for choosing to apply to X program would be fit, so if the fit is great at a four-field program then I'd definitely apply to that program, but I was just curious to see if there were any other programs that had an exclusively socio-cultural focus.

It's very rare to find strictly cultural programs (or really single sub-discipline programs at all) because most anthropology departments understand the need for the 4 field approach. I would suggest not looking at strictly cultural programs because, to me at least, it sounds like you don't care about the contributions that the other fields can bring to your research. For example, my specialty is bioarchaeology, but my advisor's education was in biocultural anthropology; therefore, I learn both the biological and cultural aspects of societies to help understand the health of populations both in the past and present.

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Yeah, most elite programs typically take more students with MAs already than those without, but the requirements in the program change very little. I have two MAs and though Penn takes up to 8 classes as transfer credits, if I don't maintain full-time student status throughout my fellowship (or be dissertating) then I lose it. In other words, not really any use transferring credits in here because you pretty much have to have the same timeline as everyone else.

For what its worth, though, UChicago has a very socio-linguistic oriented department.

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@RepatMan, you may be able to take research units, rather than specific courses, to maintain full-time status and benefit from being able to transfer in some of your previous coursework.

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