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Career prospects

Cultural and Social Anthropology (MSc)

An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers.

Specific career examples from alumni of the Cultural and Social Anthropology programme are: 

  • Head of Communications at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (non-profit development organisation)
  • Branding consultant and project manager at Sustainable Brands (commerce community)
  • Policy officer at NWO (Dutch organisation for scientific research)
  • Research Associate at the Netherlands Centre for Social Care Research
  • Operations Manager at Ninos de Guatemala (international non-governmental organization)
  • Management Trainee at ABN AMRO bank
  • Associate Adviser at Diversion (consultants for diversity management and projects)
  • Advisor and Project Manager at the Municipality of Amsterdam
  • Researcher Programmes at IKON TV (a Dutch Broadcasting Company)

Exploring the job market as a type of fieldwork

As an anthropologist, you are trained to conduct fieldwork. The skills acquired during your course can be put to good use in your search for employment.* For example, you know how to gain access to specific groups of people and are able to build a network of informants in an unfamiliar setting. 

As an anthropology graduate, you will need to make a shift towards actively empathising with the wishes and ideas of employers and learning to identify the most effective way to present yourself. The Master's programme in anthropology provides training in these skills.

* See: Omohundro, John T. 1998. "Careers in Anthropology", in General Anthropology, volume 4, no. 2

Alumni views

Below you can read about the career path of an alumna in Applied Anthropology.

Ilja Brugman - Alumna Applied Anthropology

I gained the more practical knowledge I was looking for

I first became a student at the UvA when I enrolled in the bachelor programme Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. I was interested in the study because the way of thinking and doing research left room for complexity and details. During the following three years I really learned a lot, even things that made me look differently at the world around me. There were many different courses and subjects to choose from, beautiful books and, most importantly, inspiring lectures and people. I knew that whatever I wanted to do after, what I learned during the bachelor would be useful.

  • Read more from Ilja Brugman

    After I finished my bachelor Cultural Anthropology at the UvA I felt like I had learned a lot, but did not really know what to do with it yet. The career perspectives were both endless and nearly nonexistent and I needed a bit more experience in how to apply my anthropological knowledge. Most masters seemed focused on academic research, not really on gaining the more practical experience I was looking for, until I found the master Applied Anthropology.

    The sharing part was the most rewarding

    During the first part of the study you learn how to do you own research with your research proposal as the end product. The second part is actually doing your research, and the third part consists of writing your thesis. From the fist part on you have to work together with your organization: get in contact, introduce your research plans, work on a research question that is relevant for both of you, and so on. Still for me it was mostly the writing, and sharing, part that was most rewarding. And not only rewarding: also a way of learning, sharing my preliminary results became part of the research itself.

    Daily life in a nursing home

    My research took place in a nursing home, where I looked at the daily life of the nursing home residents. After I finished my research I was able to present my findings during a meeting and even during a conference, which made my research seem more useful. Now, after my thesis is finished, I am still in touch with people that I came to know through my research and we talk about the findings and how they think changes can be made. My thesis has also been read by people from different nursing homes and professions. I think this shows the added value of the Applied Anthropology track.

    A clear topic of interest

    And to end with, some advice: As the study programme is only one year, which is a short time to set up a research project, complete it and also write a complete thesis, I would advise to have an organization or research question in mind before starting, or at least a clear topic of interest.

Career support 

To support you in your career goals, the University offers a variety of resources:

GSSS Career Event 

Twice a year the GSSS hosts a Career Event, where you can meet organisation representatives and alumni, and receive helpful tips and feedback about searching for a job as a graduate.

UvA Careers Centre (LAC)

The career advisers at the UvA Student Careers Centre can help students with information, workshops and individual vocational counselling to find out what you want, get insight into your capabilities and competencies, make choices and improve your application skills in order to achieve your goals.

With an increasing number of international students each year, the UvA is truly an international university. UvA graduates from all over the world find their way to interesting careers, whether in the Netherlands or abroad. The Student Careers Centre is specialised in advising international (non-Dutch) UvA graduates about job seeking in the international labour market.