In this ranking of the fastest Master’s in Anthropology online, we will examine the following degrees:

  • Online Master of Arts in Anthropology
  • Online Master of Arts in Theological and Cultural Anthropology
  • Online Master’s in Arts in Applied Anthropology


In order to rank the easiest online Master’s in Anthropology, we scored the schools based on 3 criteria: their Student/Faculty ratio, the school’s graduate/in-state graduate tuition, and the duration of the program. We used the school’s website for information, as well as the National Center for Education Statistics. If any information didn’t fit within the parameters of the scoring, zero points were awarded for that category.

Student/Faculty ratio:

  • 13:1 or less- 3 points
  • 14:1 to 20:1- 2 points
  • 21:1 and above- 1 point

Average Graduate Tuition Rate:

  • Less than $8,000- 5 points
  • $8,000 to $18,000- 3 points
  • Greater than $18,000- 1 point

Minimum Time to Completion:

  • 12 months or less- 5 points
  • 13-18 months- 3 points
  • 19-24 months- 1 point

 Now, let’s get to the quickest online Master’s in Anthropology programs! 

#4 Harvard Extension School

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Online Master of Liberal Arts in Anthropology and Archaeology

Harvard Extension School - Top 5 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Anthropology Online for 2018

School Profile

Student/Faculty Ratio: 7 to 1

Graduate Tuition: $48,008

Harvard Extension School, which is is Harvard University’s online division, offers a quick and affordable Master’s in Anthropology online. But, there’s one little hiccup. Three of the classes must be taken at Harvard (darn, right?!) so that students can experience what Harvard is all about. Options for on-campus courses include a traditional course that meets all semester long, a weekend intensive, a 3-week January course, or a 3 or 7 week summer course. So technically, the program is a hybrid program, but after the three on-campus classes, students can complete the rest of the degree online. Students will take 12 courses to complete the program, and get to customize the degree to meet student interest. The curriculum is broken down like this:

  • Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies and Scholarly Writing in the Social Sciences—Anthropology and Psychology
  • 5 anthropology and archaeology courses
  • 1 anthropology seminar or designated Harvard Summer School study abroad course
  • 2 general electives
  • Thesis proposal tutorial
  • Master’s Thesis Part I
  • Master’s Thesis Part 2

Students also have the option to add-on a graduate certificate in Social Justice. The school’s website doesn’t specify how quickly you can earn the degree but does say you must complete the degree within 5 years. There are three options per year for graduation.

Points: 4

#3 Eastern University

St. Davids, Pennsylvania

Online Master of Arts in Theological and Cultural Anthropology

Eastern University - Top 5 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Anthropology Online for 2018

School Profile

Student/Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

Graduate Tuition: $13,050

If you’re looking for a faith-based, quick online graduate Anthropology program, then check out Eastern University’s cheap online fast Master’s in Anthropology. Your degree will result in an online MA in Theological and Cultural Anthropology. If taken full-time, the program can be completed in just 11 months or part-time in 16-17 months. Either way, you can earn your degree fast! Among the 33 required credits include the following coursework:

  • Integrated Anthropological Theory I & II
  • Theology of Culture
  • Epistemological Insights for Anthropological Practice
  • Faith-Based Ethnographic Methods
  • On Knowing Humanity Colloquium
  • Thesis in Theological and Cultural Anthropology

Students can expect to conduct research and publish scholarly materials. Graduates will be ready to teach in the field of anthropology, serve in ministry, or pursue other anthropology-related positions. Students wishing to continue to a doctoral degree will be prepared to do so.

Points: 11

#2 Humboldt State University

Arcata, California

Online Master of Arts in Applied Anthropology

Humboldt State University - Top 5 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Anthropology Online for 2018

School Profile

Student/Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1

Graduate Tuition: $7,176

Humboldt University’s cheap online fast Master’s in Anthropology is both rigorous and flexible. While all the coursework can be completed online, there is one on-campus requirement. The program kicks off with a 7-10 day intensive program that serves as an orientation to the program and the discipline. After the summer institute, students can take the remainder of the coursework fully online. Among the asynchronous coursework are the following classes:

  • Intro to Applied Anthropology
  • Methods in Applied Anthropology
  • Theory in Applied Anthropology
  • Anthropology Careers & Management Strategy
  • Research Project Design
  • Applied Anth Pro Seminar

Four areas of specialization are available: Cultural Anthropology, Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Bioarchaeology/Forensics. A 180-hour internship/field placement is required, but students can choose from a thesis, final project, or comprehensive exam. Those opting for a thesis/project must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Points: 11

#1 The University of North Texas

Denton, Texas

Online Master’s in Arts in Applied Anthropology

University of North Texas - Top 5 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Anthropology Online for 2018

School Profile

Student/Faculty Ratio: 25 to 1

Graduate Tuition: $5,900

The quick online Master’s in Anthropology degree at the University of North Texas is perfect for the student who has other obligations and wants a solid part-time program. While students can take the program full-time and graduate in just one year, the part-time option allows students to take 2 classes per semester, creating a good balance between work, home life, and/or school. Students have two choices for degrees: a Master of Arts or a Master of Science. The MA degree requires knowledge of a foreign language, so this option might be best for students who took those classes as an undergrad. For students with little to no background in Anthropology, a Seminar in Sociocultural Anthropology is required before starting the program. There are required courses, but also opportunities for students to customize their degree with 4 elective courses students get to choose. Online students have maximum support through the school’s Cosmic Café, as a way to bring together both on-campus and online students. Note that a two-day on-campus orientation is required before the start of the program.

Points: 11


About the Fastest Online Master’s in Anthropology Degree:

Known for its interdisciplinary coursework, the study of Anthropology will focus on the cultural, historical, and biological points of view of human societies. Interested graduate students will likely have a background in anthropology with a desire to specialize in a sub-field of the discipline. Merging both academic and applied anthropology methods, a primary goal of the program is to teach students applicable research skills and quantitative reasoning used for on-the-job research projects and fieldwork. 

Types of Degrees in the Quickest Master’s in Anthropology Online:

A Master of Arts is the most common degree type in Anthropology, but some schools do offer a Master of Science. 

Schools will also offer two different kinds of degrees: an academic anthropology degree vs an applied anthropology degree.

The main difference between the two is that a general/academic anthropology degree will focus on existing research, whereas a degree in applied anthropology will focus more on new research through fieldwork. The main goal of an academic anthropology degree is to facilitate change in society, while the goal of an academic anthropology degree is to train/teach others in the field. 

When it comes to what degree option to choose, that will come down to a student’s post-graduate goals. If a student wants to work in the field, a degree in applied anthropology might be best. For students who want to earn a PhD and teach, a general anthropology degree might be best. 

Coursework for the Easiest Master’s in Anthropology Online:

No matter what program you choose, you will inevitably take core coursework in anthropology. And depending on what degree you pursue, these core courses might vary. But generally, you can expect to take introductory-level graduate courses in general anthropology, then more targeted classes in your given subfield. Students can also customize their degree with anthropology-related or interdisciplinary electives.

Specific coursework could include: Introductory Anthropology, Anthropology and Archeology Theory, the Ancient Mayans, Osteology, Ethnographic Research, and classes in your specialization. 

Specific Types of Anthropology You Could Study:

Like most fields of study, students can choose to specialize in a certain area of anthropology that interests them, and in turn, pursue a variety of careers that match their skills and passions. Here are a few of the most common areas of emphasis for the graduate field of anthropology:

Cultural Anthropology:

If you are interested in different cultures, then you might like the sub-field of cultural anthropology. In this career, you will examine different cultures around the world, with the goal to examine and determine similarities and differences among cultures—their customs, rituals, practices, eating habits, and more. You can expect a lot of travel, fieldwork, and detailed recording of your findings. A sub-field of cultural anthropology is medical anthropology, which examines the ways in which different cultures approach the medical well-being of their people.

Biological Anthropology:

Biological Anthropology is also known as physical anthropology and will critically examine humankind and primates, their evolutionary nature and their behavioral and biological components over time. Students in this discipline will look at the physical human (or primate) body—its bones, organs, and muscles—but not for medical purposes. Rather, biological anthropology studies the human body to analyze its survival and reproduction techniques.

Linguistic Anthropology:

A linguistic anthropologist will study the role of languages across various cultures and societies—and how that language shapes identities, groups, relationships, and more. 


This subfield of anthropology is the study of things of the past from people a long time ago. This could include studying objects, currencies, buildings, inscriptions, and more. 

Forensic Anthropology:

Forensic Anthropology is exactly as it sounds; it’s a subdiscipline of anthropology that will focus on the forensics of bodily remains. Within this field, students will need in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, but also knowledge of the legal field and crime scene investigation techniques. Professionals in this field could also be called upon to testify in court, providing important forensic evidence for cases. 

Other areas of specialization could include Evolutionary Anthropology, Environmental Anthropology, Ecological Anthropology, Visual Anthropology, Urban Anthropology, Business & Technology Anthropology, or Migration Anthropology.

Add-On Certifications: 

On top of or in lieu of adding on an area of concentration, students can also pursue a professional certification in a related area. These certifications can help you land a specific job you want or allow you to take targeted coursework in a certain area related to anthropology. 

Prerequisites for the Fastest Master’s degree in Anthropology Online:

In order to enter a Master’s degree program, students must have a Bachelor’s degree first. A degree in anthropology or an anthropology-related field like liberal arts or the humanities is preferred, but not mandatory. At a minimum, students will need a background in biology and the social sciences. For students who do not have a background in anthropology, some programs will offer a course prior to starting the graduate program. In addition, depending on the type of degree you are pursuing, you might be required to have some prerequisite coursework. For example, some Master of Arts programs require a prior foreign language component—or they might offer an exemption examination. Make sure to check the details of your desired program before you apply.

Length of Online Accelerated Graduate Anthropology programs:

Each program will have different requirements, but typically, you can earn an affordable Master’s degree in Anthropology in 1-2 years. 

Full-time programs:

Full-time students can typically earn the degree in as little as 11-12 months, with a summer, fall, and spring semester. 

Part-time programs:

Some schools allow for students to take their classes on a part-time basis to allow for family or work obligations. Part-time students will typically take 2 classes per semester, and can complete their degree in about 2 years. 

1-year Online Master’s in Anthropology:

Maybe you’re thinking: “I want to advance my education, but I don’t want it to drag on.” Well, you’re in luck. With some research, you could find a 1-year Master’s in Anthropology Online. Many factors could affect the length of time it takes to get your degree like the program details, your prerequisites, whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, and more.

Internships and Fieldwork for the Quickest Online Master’s in Anthropology:

Many affordable graduate degrees rely on internships and/or fieldwork for a real-world application component of the study, and especially in Applied Anthropology degrees that are practice-oriented. They may not be required in a general Anthropology degree. Internship requirements will vary from program-to-program but will generally include a 180-hour experience. 

Internships will help you gain necessary experience you might need as you apply for job positions post-graduation. They can also help you figure out what kinds of jobs you do or don’t want to pursue.

Culminating Work:

All work in the anthropology graduate degree will culminate into a final component. Each program will differ. Some require a thesis, and some allow you to choose between a thesis, a final project, or a comprehensive exam. If you have a preference, make sure to check your program’s details to see what is required. 

About online learning:

A lot of times, online learning gets an inaccurate stigma: that the online programs are less legitimate or less in quality and rigor. And that is just not the case. Many of the programs tout an extremely rigorous program and utilize the same coursework and faculty as their on-campus counterparts. Additionally, most online degrees do not indicate that they are earned online, so when it comes to your diploma, it will be exactly like an on-campus students’. It is important to note that though online learning holds the same value as an on-campus program, it will take a certain amount of personal motivation. You will most likely have online student services to aid you in your pursuit, like online advisors, libraries, tutoring, and more. The length of online classes can vary, and will so depending on your program. Some schools follow a traditional path, offering classes in the fall and spring (with shortened 7 or 8 week classes in the summer) and some offer shorter, but more intense classes throughout the year. Classes will be presented either synchronously (at a specific day/time) or asynchronously (on your own time/schedule).

On-Campus Orientations:

Some online anthropology programs do require an on-campus orientation or intensive, so make sure to check the details of the programs you are interested in to see what they require. Benefits of an on-campus orientation is meeting your professors, building comradery with other online students, and igniting your passion for anthropology.

Standardized Testing:

Most graduate programs require an entry test like the GMAT or GRE for admission. Some schools are test-optional or do not require them at all. Check your school’s admission requirements for details. 

Admission details: 

To get admitted to an online accelerated Master’s in Anthropology degree program, you will need (all program entry requirements will vary):

  • a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology or anthropology-related field
  • required prerequisite coursework
  • a minimum GPA requirement
  • standardized test scores, if required
  • letters of recommendation 
  • entrance essay

*Remember, entrance to all programs will vary. Check your school’s program details to make sure you can meet the requirements before applying. 

Continuing Education:

There are PhD programs in Anthropology available for interested students, but note that it is not necessary for you to work in the anthropology field. However, getting one could give you an edge over other applicants in this competitive field. 

Anthropology Career Information:

Employment Outlook for Careers in Anthropology:

If you’re interested in the field of anthropology and archeology, you’re entering at a good time. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics agrees, citing that in the next 8 years, the field is expected to grow by 10% (which is faster than other professions). 

Possible Careers with an affordable Master’s degree in Anthropology:

The good news about this field is that the job market is vast. Depending on your interests, you’ll be able to find a career that works for your background and your passions. A graduate with a Master’s degree in Anthropology can find work research organizations, the government, and consulting firms. Additional jobs could be in museums, conservation work, academia, advertising, or health and social work. 

Possible Incomes with affordable Master’s degree in Anthropology:

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, here are some possible salaries for graduates (based on 2018 median pay):

  • Anthropologists and Archeologists: $62,410 per year 
  • Post-secondary teachers Anthropology and Archeology teachers: $94,080
  • Economists: $104,340 per year
  • Curators and Museum Workers: $48,400 per year
  • Environmental Scientist/Specialist: $71,130 per year
  • Survey Researchers: $57,700 per year
  • Historians: $61,140 per year
  • Geographers: $80,300 per year
  • Sociologists: $82,050 per year

Professional Organizations for the Field of Anthropology:

Especially in a field like Anthropology, it is important to stay up to date on current research and professional practices. That’s exactly what being a part of a professional organization does. In addition, you’ll get to network with like-minded peers and get the support you need to succeed in your career. Here are a few anthropology-related professional organizations to check out. 

  • American Anthropological Association (AAA)
  • National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA)
  • Society for Applied Anthropology (SFAA)

FOM Staff
March 2020

This concludes our ranking of the Top 25 Most Affordable Accelerated Master’s in Anthropology Online for 2020.