A recent AAA survey investigating enrollments, faculty structure, and curriculum in anthropology departments in the US found that women are well represented as faculty in all ranks and levels of employment. Women comprised the majority of degree recipients at the baccalaureate and master’s levels, and received half of the doctorate degrees awarded. Among other findings, doctoral programs reported an overall 23% acceptance rate for the 2012–13 academic year and a median value of five doctoral degrees granted in the preceding year. The median length of time spent in a PhD program was five years, with seven years as the most frequently reported maximum time-to-degree. In the report that follows, we share some survey highlights that will be of interest to researchers, students and department chairs.

At the Department Chairs and Representatives Breakfast in 2012, department chairs told AAA they needed a central location for data used to prepare program reviews. To address this need, AAA embarked on a multi-stage research process to collect vital program data and make such data available to department chairs. In this way, department chairs and other interested parties could compare their own program features with peer institutions, demonstrate the strengths of their program, and lobby for the resources essential to program growth.

Department chairs were not only interested in gathering the numbers frequently requested by university administrators, but the broader discussion of program review centered on the need to communicate in new ways the value of a degree in anthropology. We began the Comparative Data Project in December 2012 by determining the types of information typically included in program review, such as enrollments, faculty structure, acceptance rates, and time-to-completion data. In addition, we asked department chairs what supplementary information they would like to provide to convey the accomplishments and strengths of their program, such as student publications and presentations, faculty research funding, and curriculum offerings.

The resulting survey was a lengthy but comprehensive instrument collecting information in the following categories: program description; degrees offered; enrollments; degrees granted; faculty structure; student achievements; funding and support; training opportunities; alumni contacts; career counseling.

Once the first draft of the survey was complete in February 2013, we recruited department chairs to pilot the instrument. We then adjusted unanswerable questions, clarify ambiguities, and otherwise fine-tuned the instrument. This allowed us to standardize terms and units of measurement so that the results would be comparable across institutions. Additionally, we identified the types of information that would be useful, easily obtained from departmental annual reviews, or impossible to provide.

So that department chairs would feel comfortable reporting on such sensitive information as acceptance rates, salaries, and gender and minority status of students and faculty, the survey did not request any identifying information. Department chairs were, however, asked to indicate their Carnegie classification so that peer institutions could be identified. Though free access to the full dataset is considered a benefit of completing the survey, the data are also available to non-members and those who opted not to complete the survey, albeit for a symbolic fee, intended to encourage greater participation in subsequent Comparative Data Project surveys.

The survey was first distributed in April 2013 to a list of 477 unique institutions culled from the AAA database. These institutions, primarily located in North America, offered a program in anthropology or a program with an anthropological component. In the case of hybrid anthropology programs, respondents were directed to report on either the entire department or the anthropology component as appropriate. A total of 117 institutions (4 outside North America) completed the survey, resulting in a 24.5% response rate. Below, we provide a summary of the survey results that will be of interest to AN readers. Please note that where influence of outliers is minimal, the mean value is used; where the responses are marked by high variability, we have reported the median value.

For more information, please contact Courtney Dowdall at cdowdall@aaanet.org or visit <insert web address here once the page is constructed>

Program Description

Responding institutions fell into the following categories of Carnegie classification:

6% Associate’s College

23% Baccalaureate College

17% Master’s College or University

52% Doctorate-granting University

2% Other

The majority of programs (61%) belonged to a department titled “Department of Anthropology,” while 38.5% of programs indicated another department name, including Department of: Anthropology, Economics, and Geography; Anthropology, Sociology, and Languages; Archaeology; Behavioral & Social Sciences Department; Human Behavior; Human Evolution and Social Change; Social Sciences; Social and Cultural Sciences; Society and Environment; Sociomedical Sciences; Sociology and Anthropology; Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology; Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Welfare; Religious Studies and Anthropology; Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work.

Degrees Offered

Among responding institutions, 26% offered a joint degree in conjunction with such areas as:

American studies Business administration Classical civilization
Criminology East Asian Studies Economics
Engineering Forensics Geography
History International studies Applied Math
Media and communication Medicine Middle Eastern and North Africa Studies
Museum studies Public health Religion
Science and technology Social work Sociology

The vast majority of institutions (95%) offered an undergraduate degree, while less than half (48%) offered a graduate degree. Among programs offering a graduate degree, 68% offered a terminal Master’s degree, and 61% offered a PhD degree.

Enrollments and Degrees Granted

In the 2012–13 academic year, programs offering an undergraduate degree reported a median enrollment of 90 declared majors. Programs with a terminal Master’s degree reported a median value of 20 applicants to a terminal MA program, with an acceptance rate of 60%. Programs offering a PhD degree reported a median applicant pool of 41 students to enter the doctoral program, with a 23% acceptance rate for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Among programs offering an undergraduate degree, department chairs reported a median value of 24 BA/BS degrees granted in the 2011–12 academic year. Among BA/BS degrees granted, chairs reported a median value of:

  • 70% granted to female students
  • 15% granted to minority students

Among departments offering a terminal MA degree, department chairs reported a median value of 11 students accepted in the 2011–12 academic year. Among terminal MA programs, findings indicated:

  • 69% students accepted to a program were female students
  • 13% students accepted to a program were minority students
  • 2 years (average) to complete the terminal MA degree

In terminal MA programs, chairs reported a median value of six degrees granted in the 2011–12 academic year. Among MA degrees granted, chairs reported a median value of:

  • 67% degrees granted to female students
  • 0% degrees granted to minority students

Among departments offering a doctorate degree, department chairs reported a median value of 10 students accepted in the 2011–12 academic year. Among PhD programs, findings indicated:

  • 67% students accepted to a PhD program were female students
  • 17% students accepted to a PhD program were minority students
  • five year-minimum (average) to complete the PhD degree
  • eight year-maximum to complete the PhD degree

In PhD programs, chairs reported a median value of five degrees granted in the 2011–12 academic year. Among PhD degrees granted, chairs reported a median value of

  • 50% degrees granted to female students
  • 11% degrees granted to minority students
             Female            Minority

Percent

N

Percent

N

Degrees granted

BA/BS

70%

80

15%

66

MA

67%

33

0%

26

PhD

50%

26

11%

23

Accepted to program

Terminal MA

69%

34

13%

27

PhD

67%

31

17%

25

Faculty Structure

With widely varying response rates per survey item, department chairs reported the following percentages of female and minority faculty:

             Female            Minority

Percent

N

Percent

N

Full-time

50%

107

14%

94

Part-time

57%

75

0%

57

Tenured

50%

88

10%

67

Professor

50%

79

0%

52

Associate professor

50%

87

11%

57

Assistant professor

67%

75

22%

60

Adjunct professor

50%

61

0%

44

Student Achievements

Anthropology students received more than 50 different prestigious awards in the 2011–12 and 2012–13 academic years. Below are the five most common awards received by anthropology students:

Name of Award Number of departments reporting award
Fulbright Scholarship 29
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship 19
National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant 18
Wenner Gren Fellowship 17
Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship 9

For the 2012–13 academic year, department chairs reported a median value of four undergraduate students and three graduate students who presented in a university-sponsored research forum. The median number of students presenting in a regional professional meeting was two undergraduate students and two graduate students, while one undergraduate and 3.5 graduate students presented in a national professional meeting.

Funding and Support

Students received funding from their department and their institution to attend research conferences. Sixty-nine percent of participating institutions indicated availability of conference funding from their department, while 90% indicated that conference funds were available from their institution.

The majority of programs offering an undergraduate degree (83%) supported an undergraduate anthropology club. Among programs offering a graduate degree, 59% supported a graduate-level anthropology club, while 33% supported a combined undergraduate and graduate anthropology program.

Programs offering a graduate degree reported a median value of 20 students supported by graduate assistance funding and 5 students supported by fellowship funding. The median value of graduate assistant stipends amount was $9500, though reports ranged from a minimum of $1200 to a maximum of $60,000. Fellowship amounts ranged from $1000 to $45,000 with a median value of $17,500.

Training Opportunities

Among programs offering undergraduate degrees:

  • 40% indicated that they require proficiency in a second language
  • 51% indicated that they provided training in grant writing
  • 71% indicated that their program included a field school
  • 51% indicated that they offered internships arranged by the department

Department chairs were given a lengthy list of methods, teaching, research, and communication training opportunities and asked to indicate those that were offered to and required of students in the 2011-12 or 2012–13 academic years. Populating the list of training opportunities are skills that respondents in the 2009 MA Survey indicated were most useful to their career. Survey responses illustrate the training opportunities offered and the skills required in order to receive a degree in anthropology. Below are the ten most frequently cited course requirements for each degree level.

 

BA/BS

 

Master’s

PhD

1

Independent research

Independent research

Independent research

2

Participant observation

Research design

Grant writing

3

Research design

Ethics competency

Ethics competency

4

Field notes

IRB training

Research design

5

Interviewing

Data analysis software – quantitative

IRB training

6

IRB training

Interviewing

Statistics

7

Collaboration in a research team

Participant observation

Sample selection

8

Ethics competency

Statistics

Participant observation

9

Professional presentations

Grant writing

Data analysis software – quantitative

10

Community engagement

Data analysis software – qualitative

Grade papers

Alumni contacts

The five most commonly reported methods departments use to maintain contact with alumni are: (1) social media–Facebook; (2) email listserv; (3) alumni as guest lecturers in a course; (4) alumni speaking engagements; (5) alumni directory with updated contact information.

Career Counseling

Most institutions offered career counseling at both the undergraduate (84%) and graduate (71%) level. When asked about the efficacy of services available, however, responses ranged widely, from “not very effective” to “very effective” to “initiatives are underway to improve these services.” Describing what makes career counseling more effective, department chairs most often reported that:

  • Departmental networks are far more beneficial than university-based services.
  • Career services are very effective when they are well connected to alumni.

Explaining the factors that make career counseling services less effective, department chairs frequently commented:

  • Career services would be more effective if students actually took advantage of them.
  • Center staff does not know how to advise anthropology students, because they do not know much about anthropology.

A number of chairs described the “initiatives underway to improve these services,” such as:

  • Creating a new departmental role (placement officer)
  • Providing workshop and mentoring for graduate students
  • Developing a survey to better understand how career support services are working or not working

The Comparative Data Project is intended to support anthropology departments by providing a central location for data that can be used to prepare reports for administration, lobby for more resources for your program, and express the value of training in anthropology. The full dataset contains detailed responses so that department chairs can conduct their own analyses and comparisons of peer institutions.

As the first installment of what we hope will be an ongoing project, the maiden voyage of this survey has revealed opportunities for more concise questioning and more useful response formats. Future versions will reflect these improvements and build on the results to track changes in department structure, enrollments, degrees granted, faculty composition, and anthropological training over time. With greater participation in subsequent surveys, we look forward to conducting more complex investigations of the relationships between items such as student funding, courses offered, enrollments, and time-to-degree.

For more information on how to access the full dataset in the Comparative Data Repository, please contact Courtney Dowdall, AAA Professional Fellow, at cdowdall@aaanet.org.

 

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