Back to Home
Master's Practicum

The practicum is the centerpiece of our graduate program, providing practical experience in applied anthropology. Students usually work collaboratively with agencies engaged in applied research, community development and/or community health, and use anthropological knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems.

Students in practica typically engage in activities such as research, grant writing, data analysis and program implementation and/or evaluation for governmental and nongovernmental, non-profit and for-profit organizations such as health clinics, schools, police precincts, churches and community development agencies at the local, regional, national, or international level.

To earn practicum hours, students register for 6 hours of ANTH 7985. These 6 credit hours comprise completion of at least 300 hours of practicum project work, plus a written report and an oral presentation in a practicum colloquium. Each student is also encouraged to present their practicum results at a professional meeting, such as the SfAAs or AAAs.

Practicum Proseminar

MA candidates are required to complete the 1-hour ANTH 7984 Proseminar in their first
semester. The Proseminar prepares students on the practicum process (e.g. finding a partner organization, developing a practicum agreement, setting goals and objectives); performance (expectations, mentors, technical and writing skills, critical thinking); skills (data collection and analysis, technical writing); reporting (structure, content, presentation style, linking theory and practice); and professionalism (job search, vita, cover letter, interviewing, ethics), plus practicum planning exercises and attendance at the Practicum Forum.

Practicum Agreement

Students should prepare a formal “practicum agreement,” specifying all duties and
obligations necessary to fulfill their assignment. The agreement describes what the student will do, how she/he will do it, what the student expects to learn from the experience, and who is responsible for evaluating the practicum performance. The student, their practicum advisor, and their agency supervisor should all sign copies of the statement; each should retain a copy for their records. Ideally, the student’s full committee should be appointed before the practicum, though this is not mandatory. Once the committee is formed, all committee members should be given a copy of the agreement. A boilerplate for the practicum agreement is included in the appendix.

The Practicum Project

The practicum project can be completed by working 20 hours per week for one 15-week
semester. However, depending on the agency and assignment, students may arrange a more flexible schedule to fulfill required hours. For instance, students may work fewer hours per week over a longer period (e.g., 10 hours per week for one academic year), or they may work extended hours for a shorter period (e.g., 40 hours per week for 7.5 weeks during the summer). In some cases, students may be permitted to register for practicum hours in a given semester but complete the Proseminar and conduct their assignment during a different period.

In order to ensure that the practicum is a rewarding experience, students must work closely with a faculty advisor and an agency supervisor to plan their assignment. Students can ask different faculty members to serve as their practicum advisor and their degree committee chair. While the practicum is usually undertaken late in the degree program, students should begin planning early in their graduate career, in consultation with their faculty advisor(s).

When performing a practicum, the student is an ambassador of the Department and the
contracting agency. The practicum also creates a foundation for future collaboration between the University and the contracting agency. Therefore, it is essential that students fulfill all commitments and conduct assignments in a responsible and professional manner. 

Practicum Report Policy

The program is designed to focus on the practicum experience. Upon successful
completion of practicum responsibilities, all graduate students are required to submit
a formal report. Practicum reports should follow the structure outlined below.
Students should work with their practicum supervisor to determine the appropriate
report length. The practicum report is viewed as an essential record, which documents
the assignment experience and its outcomes. Information on the production of the
practicum report follows here.

Due dates for a practicum report draft and submission of the final, approved report
should be set by the advising committee chair. At a minimum, a full draft should be
distributed to the graduate student’s full advising committee at least six weeks before
the end of the semester in which the student intends to graduate. Allow a minimum of
two weeks for faculty members to review and return drafts with comments. All
committee members must approve the final practicum report. Approvals can be made
electronically (sent by email) to the committee Chair. Once approved, electronic
copies of the final report must be submitted to the advising committee, practicum
supervisor, and the Anthropology Graduate Coordinator, who will place the report on
file in the Department’s permanent digital record.

Practicum Report Structure

While the practicum report is brief (typically 10-20 typed, double-spaced pages for
items 3-6), specific criteria listed below must be included. Requests for exceptions to
this structure must be cleared in advance with the student’s advising committee chair,
in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, and indicated by written permission of
the committee chair.

A Practicum Report Checklist is included in the appendix to further assist in its
production. The report structure is as follows:

  1. Title page. Provide a brief title specifying the agency, the nature of the assignment, and the student’s name. Near the bottom of the page, include this
    statement: “This report is submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements
    for the Master of Arts in Anthropology.” Below this statement the student
    should enter the semester in which the report will be filed (e.g., Spring 2014).
  2. Executive Summary (1 page). Offer very brief bullet points summarizing
    items 3-6, below. This should form the second page of the report.
  3. Introduction. Begin the report by summarizing the nature of the practicum
    (i.e., evaluation, grant writing, etc.). It should include a description of the
    supervising agency (the administrative context within which the practicum
    was conducted), an outline of assigned responsibilities (attach a practicum
    agreement, job description, or scope of work as an appendix), and a summary
    statement of the assignments goal(s) and greater significance.
  4. Background and Methods. Provide a context for the practicum, drawing on
    relevant literature, providing specifics on assigned duties or methods used,
    and describing the time frame within which tasks were completed. For
    repetitive activities, indicate the overall time frame of the practicum and the
    approximate proportion of effort devoted to each major activity.
  5. Practicum Assignment. Provide a detailed description of activities that were
    accomplished and outcomes that were achieved by the practicum. Data or other findings may also be summarized here. However, a full report or other
    deliverables prepared for the agency should be attached as an appendix.
  6. Significance/Discussion. Prepare a substantive statement on the practical and
    theoretical value of the practicum experience. Discuss and critically analyze
    links between coursework and the practicum, including relationships of core
    and concentration requirements (i.e., research methods, data analysis, theory,
    applications, and GDC or Medical courses) with the practicum project.
    Discussion should also evaluate anticipated outcomes and results that were
    actually achieved during the course of the assignment.
  7. Recommendations. Offer any summary remarks which you feel are relevant
    to the general conduct and/or organization of your practicum. This statement
    should also offer recommendations for modifications in comparable practica,
    if they were to be conducted in the future. If appropriate, comment on how
    your practicum experience shaped your professional goals.
  8. Appendices and attachments. These may be minimal or extensive, as
    appropriate and depending upon the nature of the practicum assignment. The
    practicum agreement, job description, and any materials prepared by the
    student as a part of the project should be included (e.g., grants, bibliographic
    references, reports, or evaluations produced as a part of the practicum duties).
  9. Vita. Attach a copy of your current curriculum vita.


Masters Practica List:

Click here for the Masters Practica list and agencies (1997-present)

Text Only | Print | Got a Question? Ask TOM | Contact Us | Memphis, TN 38152 | 901/678-2000 | Copyright 2013 University of Memphis | Important Notice | Last Updated: 
Department of Anthropology | 316 Manning Hall | Memphis, TN | 38152-3530 | Phone: 901-678-2080 | Fax: 901-678-2069
Last Updated: 1/10/14