Jump to content

Is this a good idea?


Recommended Posts

So, I'm already a semester deep, but I've been hearing conflicting opinions about the choice I'm making as far as grad school and anthropology and I thought I'd try and get some advice here. 


I'm getting a terminal MA in Environmental Anthropology, as well as a Graduate Certificate (four classes with the flexibility to choose a focus) in Geographic Information Systems. I'm interested in societal adaptation to climate change in North America. 


I went in to this program because I have the idea that merging a social science with a technical skill would make me competitive for potential government / non-profit jobs, or, if I'm up for it, to continue on to a PhD somewhere else (the school I'm in doesn't have a doctoral program). The faculty of the school as well as my former employers in anthropological fields approve of this approach, as PhDs can make you overqualified for some positions and the combination of a theoretical discipline with a technical one would put me in an advantageous position. I'm already networking with other climate and environmental scientists to see how I can contribute to the university's overall research but it's too early to tell if that will amount to anything significant.


However recently I've been getting feedback that this degree is frivolous, and will hardly help my prospects. This kind of opinion has been coming from those in money-making fields like business or law, but nonetheless I've been hearing it frequently enough to get me a little rattled. Maybe they know something I don't?


I was wondering what you guys think. I'm not expecting a red carpet into a cozy job but at the very least I feel it should open a few more doors than I would have with just a BA. 


Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice you guys have to offer. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I definitely think it will help you. I know you aren't trying to get into academia per se but the job market is very competitive, and most higher-end job postings I see (especially those that include technical skills) require a Master's degree. I think you're on the right path. At the very least, even if people tell you the actual 'degree' is frivolous, the experience/knowledge/skillset you're gaining is definitely not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i agree with mp429- GIS is a critical skill to have these days, and i think it's worth it.


however, at least from what i've seen, anthropology and archaeology are reaching a point where it's less of a perk if you can use GIS software (namely ESRI); rather, it's a check against you if you can't. most jobs will note that they want or need applicants to have at least basic proficiency in GPS and GIS use. this may be why people are telling you the degree is "frivolous"- at this rate, most or all grad students in anthro and all its subfields are expected to either take a class in GIS, or poke around in the software enough to understand the basics, but you don't need to be an expert. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's fine. I'd be curious as to how much original empirical research you'll be able to get done in a terminal masters program, but if you are comfortable with that then there is no reason not to. Most business or law people will tell you you are wasting your time if you aren't doing a professional degree. I stopped paying attention to them a while ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

I love the subject line for this thread!   :)


I think you are where you need to be if your goal is to work outside academia. You might want to venture a little into environmental sciences or health too or take a course if you have room for it.


What kinds of job postings are you following?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with all of the above posters - it sounds like you're on the right track for what you want to do!

I got a masters in archaeology and then worked at a non-profit for 3 year and the masters degree helped immensely. I think I stood out as a candidate for the job because of that degree and my coworkers saw me as someone knowledgable about my field. I worked at a science museum and I was asked several times to collaborate on the design and content of new exhibits, which was AWESOME! Now I'm back in academia, and I think the degree helped my get back in even though I'd taken several years out.


Good luck and enjoy it :)

Edited by NoSleepTilBreuckelen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use