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 non-governmental, 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.
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 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, although typically, one person will fill both roles. 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.
Full details of the practicum are included in the Department of Anthropology Gradaduate Student Handbook (Updated 2023).