NAPA Mentor Program

Information for those seeking an anthropology graduate school program



Q.  I am interesting in practicing anthropology as a career. Where should I study?
Attend a program that has the faculty capacity and coursework you need. The Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs ( has detailed information on two dozen member programs; many other programs exist as well. Visit individual department websites to determine their specializations and focuses.

Q.  I have a specialized interest. Where should I turn?
 If your direction of study is tightly focused, you need to find instructors who are working on your specific topic.

  • Consult the professional journals (e.g., Practicing Anthropology, Human Organization, NAPA’s Annals of Anthropological Practice, and the AAA’s Anthropology News). And when you find relevant papers or journal articles, consult the bibliography to see who else is publishing on the subject.
  • Review the associations’ annual meeting schedules (AAA and SfAA) and see who has presented on topics of interest to you.
  • Look outside of anthropology to other journals and associations close to your areas of interest. Anthropologists belong to a range of professional organizations.

Q.  My local university does not meet my exact needs but I can’t afford to move away. What should I do?
If your mobility is limited, enroll locally and work with a professor who is flexible and who can help you chart an academic course that meets your desires. Consider taking coursework outside the department or getting a dual degree, if available. Anthropologists embrace a multidisciplinary approach; for many, a second specialty has proved instrumental in building a career.

Q.  I don’t have a university nearby and I can’t move. Do I have any options?
If you live on a remote outpost with no access to higher education, you have an option. The University of North Texas launched the first online masters program in applied anthropology in the fall of 2006. Students in the three-year M.A. or M.S. program need to present themselves on campus in Denton just twice, at the start and finish of their studies; the program is designed to work around the lives of students unable to attend a traditional program.

Q.  How can I pay for graduate school?
 Start your search within the department(s) you hope to attend. Graduate assistantships (GAs), research assistantships (RAs), and teaching assistantships (TAs) are available in some quantity through most departments, although the latter two are more often designed for Ph.D. students than Masters students.

  • Financial aid resources may be listed on department websites or in the office (department willingness to work with individual students on funding will vary).
  • Ask how other students in the department are funded. It ranges significantly between programs.
  • Ask about possible tuition waivers or stipends.
  • Ask whether any professors have received or expect to receive research grants that will allow them to hire graduate students.
  • Be sure to clarify any assistance you are expecting from a program before you officially accept.

Q.  Are there other resources?
Visit department websites and pay attention to any outside funding the department might be currently granted (e.g., National Institutes of Health [NIH], National Science Foundation [NSF]).

External grants or fellowships can be found on the web.

  • UniversityofWashingtonhas an 11-page website list ( called “Funding Sources on the Internet.”
  • The Council of Graduate Schools ( has information under the “Programs and Awards: Resources for Students” link.
  • The Foundation Center ( has a dizzying array of information, although it requires digging to find relevant links.
  • Serach the University of California-Riverside for a list of grant-giving organizations (try:, including minority and subject-specific grants.

Q.  What about student loans?
Student loans are easier to obtain but the catch is that they have to be paid back someday. Your program should be able to provide application information. Visit the Sallie Mae website ( for additional planning and application information.

Q. Are there any other resources?

  • The well-known academic press, SAGE Publications, produced a series of five books in the late 1990s on Surviving Graduate School. The titles include Surviving Graduate School Part Time, The Women’s Guide to Surviving Graduate School, and The African American Student’s Guide to Surviving Graduate School.
  • The NIH website offers an indexed list of links titled “SurvivingGraduateSchool” on their site (
  • Peterson’s ( provides a well-organized and valuable body of information, including an enlightening timeline and international student information.