Applied Thesis | Department of Anthropology

Applied Thesis

The applied thesis is the major independent project that students undertake in order to complete the master's in applied anthropology. It involves completing a significant research project that will be of practical benefit to some organization or agency. Students must design and carry out a project that utilizes the skills in applied anthropology that they gained through their master's program coursework. The project has two kinds of outcomes:

  • A practical application that benefits the organization or agency that is their client
  • A report to the department of anthropology, submitted both as a written document (suggested length is 65-90 pages) and a verbal presentation

The applied thesis is similar to a traditional master's thesis in that it represents a substantial effort on the student's part. It is different in that the student's project will always be directed toward the needs of a client.

Some students may conduct their projects for established practicing anthropologists in their field of interest. In other cases, clients will come from another background, but they will recognize the value that the perspective of applied anthropology can bring to their organization. Clients will generally hold fairly senior positions in their organization.

In many cases, students may choose to find an organization in the community they live in. Some students who work full-time may choose to conduct their applied thesis for the organization that already employs them.

The key to a successful applied thesis experience is excellent three-way communication between the student, their faculty advisor, and their client. The department has a set of guidelines to assist everyone in building this triangular relationship. Students prepare for the applied thesis by taking ANTH 5050 Preparation for Practice and the Applied Thesis.

The Dissertation and Thesis Manual provides definitive information on preparing your dissertation or thesis: