MIT Anthropology Frequently Asked Questions

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A Tough Calculation

Why don't more women enter the male-dominated profession of engineering? Some observers have speculated it may be due to the difficulties of balancing a demanding career with family life. Others have suggested that women may not rate their own technical skills highly enough.

However, a recent paper co-authored by MIT social scientist Susan Silbey, based on a four-year study of engineering students at four schools, offers a different story. More


What can I do with an Anthropology degree?

Students who study Anthropology routinely apply their expertise in a variety of occupational fields, including:

  • Policy Making and Government Service
  • Science and Engineering
  • Foreign Service
  • NGOs
  • Medicine and Public Health
  • Development and Human Rights
  • Law
  • Education
  • Museums
  • Social Work

Where do MIT Anthropology faculty do research?

Our faculty conduct research all over the world, with expertise in South and Central America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the United States. Recently, faculty have been doing fieldwork in Haiti, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, France, Greece, Norway.


What types of courses are offered by MIT Anthropology?

The courses are clustered under six headings: Culture and Identity; Religion and Belief; Global Health; Environment, Development, and Conflict; Science, Technology, and Media; and Cross Cultural Dialog and Investigations.


What is the typical structure of an Anthropology course?

All courses are a combination of discussion- and presentation by faculty and students. Students always have the opportunity to ask questions and analyze readings, as well as films and multimedia materials. Class meetings tend to be energetic and lively, with active participation by all students is expected. All courses include written assignments and some also include oral presentations. Some involve fieldwork and media production.


Does MIT Anthropology collaborate with other programs and groups at MIT?

MIT Anthropology faculty work closely with other MIT programs and departments such as Science and Technology Studies (STS), the D-Lab, Behavioral and Policy Studies in the Sloan School of Management, the MIT Energy Initiative, the Political Science department, JPAL, and the Department of Urban Studies.


Does MIT Anthropology offer graduate study?

With the History and Science, Technology and Society faculties, MIT Anthropology offers a Ph.D. in the History and Anthropology of Science, Technology and Society (HASTS). Our faculty serve as teachers, advisors, and mentors for graduate students in the HASTS program. Please visit the HASTS website for further details.


Does MIT Anthropology offer undergraduate research opportunities?

Undergraduates have a variety of options for research in Anthropology. These can be organized through the UROP program, independently with a faculty member, in conjunction with participation in D-Lab projects, or in coordination with projects in another department. Students who are interested in doing research should contact faculty directly or our administrative staff.


How can I learn ethnographic field methods at MIT?

MIT Anthropology offers several field methods courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduates are encouraged to take Introduction to Anthropology (21A.00) and/or How Culture Works (21A.01) first to learn the fundamentals of Anthropology. From there, students have several options that offer hands-on training in field research methods, such as Cross-Cultural Investigations (21A.801), and Practicum in Global Health and Development (21A.300). Graduate field methods courses include Methods for Graduate Research in the Social Sciences (21A.809), Ethnography (21A.829), and Qualitative Research Methods (21A.819).


What do students think about Anthropology classes?

Examples from course evaluations:

"I found the class to be really well organized, with important concepts very well defined and reinforced throughout the course. I loved the way everything built on concepts discussed earlier in class."

"Great subject material and great teaching. I really liked the connections to real world issues and the case studies presented in class and in the readings. Great job facilitating discussion."

"[The professor] has such a comprehensive knowledge of so many disciplines, and he is able to convey linkages and ruptures in very accessible ways. He is an excellent lecturer."

"The teaching was absolutely outstanding!"

"The readings/topics were always interesting - I never walked out of class saying 'why is this important?' Discussions were also rather deep and helped massage out some of the important details in the concepts we were reading about."

"[The professor] is amazing, and I am happy that she taught this course. By far my favorite class and I hope to have her as a professor again."

"This course really taught me about different perspectives, especially with regards to race. It was an enlightening experience that I think made me more open to diversity and more conscious of both its history (particularly in America) and how it affects our lives today."

MIT Anthropology
77 Mass. Ave, E53-335, Cambridge, MA 02142
ph: 617.452.2837    fax: 617.253.5363    anthro@mit.edu