Internships & Independent Research in Anthropology

Internship and independent study courses can greatly enrich the educational experience. GW anthropology students commonly use these courses to explore subjects that particularly interest them and to acquire valuable experience.


Independent Study

The independent study courses are Anth 3995 (for undergraduates) and 6995 (for graduates). They are appropriate for any independent work that is not an internship or research for a master's thesis. Students pursue in-depth research under a faculty member's guidance, which includes work for graduation with special honors or to complete a Cotlow project.

Students wishing to take Anth 3995 or 6995 must submit a proposal form to the Department, signed by whoever is supervising their work, by the end of the first week of class. There are separate forms for undergraduate and graduate work, both of them available from the Department office or the links below. The main purpose of these forms is to make sure that the work undertaken is anthropological in nature and that the student and supervisor have agreed at the outset on the work to be done.  These are internal department forms and are separate from the Registration Transaction Forms that actually put people in classes.

Grades for these courses are not assigned directly by the person supervising the work, but by the undergraduate or graduate advisor who has been given that task. The research supervisor must therefore submit an evaluation of the work to the appropriate advisor at the end of the course.   Grades of I (Incomplete) and IPG (In Progress) can be assigned for these independent research courses.

Download a Undergraduate Research Proposal Form.

Download a Graduate Research Proposal Form.

Honors. Students planning to write an undergraduate honors thesis use the undergraduate research proposal form. However, the graduate form is for independent research only and is not a thesis form.


Internships

Finding Internships

There are numerous organizations in the Washington area that offer internships, including nearly all the museums. For examples, visit Internship Opportunities for Anthropology Students. Detailed information on recent museum internships is on our Selected Museum Internships page (PDF file).

Read a Washington Post article, "Homework is key in the world of competitive internships," for general guidance.

Guidelines for Museum Internships

These are the regular guidelines for museum internships. These general criteria may vary according to the guidance of your faculty mentor.

Students (undergraduate or graduate) who wish to have an internship at a museum must register for Anth 6230. Before they complete registration, they should obtain a special packet of forms from the Department office or website. One of the forms, the Statement of Expectations, should be signed by the internship supervisor and returned to Prof. Jeffrey Blomster by the end of the first week of class. A museum internship must deal with an anthropological problem or topic; internships limited to clerical work, event hosting, etc., are not acceptable.

Museum interns perform at least 10 hours of relevant work for 15 weeks (assuming they are registered for three hours of credit).

Besides doing work at the museum, interns write an approx­imately 15-page research paper that relates their internship experience to a significant theoretical and/or methodological problem in anthro­pology. The student’s grade is based both on the recommendations made by the internship supervisor on the Final Evaluation of Internship form and on this paper. This is a graduate-level academic paper and should contain a substantial bibliography (at least 15 sources). The paper must be submitted to Prof. Blomster before the end of the final exam period for the semester in which the work was completed.

The grade of I (Incomplete) is not given for internships. If the work schedule does not permit completion of an internship within one semester, the student should request an IPG (In Progress). Once the student has completed the work and been assigned a grade, the IPG disappears from the record.

Note that Anth 6230 is variable credit. If you do not specify the number for credits you want when you register, the system will enter one credit by default). For details, see the Registrar's website.

View the Museum Internship Packet (PDF file).

See a list of selected museum internships (PDF file)

Guidelines for Development Internships

Students who wish to have an internship at an international development organization must register for Anth 6330. The key points of Anth 6330 are to work in an organization for a substantial period of time, to reflect in an anthropological way on the experience, and to report on it in a brief and professional way. A 3-credit internship in a development organization requires about 8-10 hours of work per week for about 14 weeks. It is advisable to keep a field journal to aid in writing the concluding 12-page report.

For complete details, visit Internships in Development Anthropology.

PhD Student Erin Marie Williams featured on NPR

Hominid Paleobiology PhD candidate Erin Marie Williams was featured on NPR for her work as part of a team of researchers exhuming the remains of Rwanda mountain gorillas, which are descended from those studied by Dian Fossey. She sent a series of dispatches during her work in the field, the full texts of which can be read in the NPR article "Why Dig Up Mountain Gorillas?" Her current research focuses on tracking and recording the history of these gorillas.