We're excited to hear that so many of you are interested in a career in paleoanthropology. There are many different ways to work toward a degree in anthropology and many different branches of the field to study. Cultural, physical, and linguistic anthropology and archeology are the four usual branches of anthropology, and most colleges or universities will give you an introduction to all fields and perhaps allow you to concentrate in one. Studying anthropology is popular among undergraduates, and many schools offer major and minor programs. Our advice to those entering college or already there is to take a wide variety of courses, including biology, geology, chemistry and physics. All of these fields will prove useful if you decide to continue studying anthropology after college. In graduate school you can choose to focus on one of the four branches.
Graduate programs in paleoanthropology are selective and not as common as undergraduate programs. If you are seriously considering a career in paleoanthropology, this will most likely require you to obtain your Ph.D. An increasing number of graduate programs in paleoanthropolgy urge students to combine the variety of disciplines we've noted above - for example, geoarchaeology, evolutionary biology of early hominins, or the chemical analysis of early human paleoenvironments.
We encourage you to look into practical experiences either through participating in a field excursion or volunteering with a local museum. These experiences would allow you to apply what you are studying in school. You will also want to check with the anthropology department and career planning office at your college or university. Professors and career counselors can often help you line up a summer internship or volunteer position. The Paleoanthropology Society's student section has many useful resources on graduate programs, field schools, funding, job postings, and related links.
The Human Origins Program does not have any internships available at this time.
You may want to visit the internship project list for the National Museum of Natural History to see if there is an internship at our Museum of interest to you.
The following links may be useful in helping you find a paleoanthropology field school. The field schools are listed in alphabetical order.
Cova Gran Rockshelter Field School (IFR; Spain)
Drimolen Paleoanthropology and Geoarchaeology Field School (Washington University & La Trobe University; South Africa)
Field School for Quaternary Palaeoanthropology and Prehistory of Murcia (Universidad de Murcia; Spain)
Ice Age Island Field School (University College London; UK)
Koobi Fora Field School (George Washington University; Kenya)
Natural History of Tanzania (University of Arkansas; Tanzania)
Olduvai Gorge International Field School (University of North Carolina; Tanzania)
Olduvai Gorge Summer Field School (Indiana University; Tanzania)
Paleoanthropology and Paelolithic Archaeology Field School (University of Winnipeg; Serbia)
Swartkrans Paleoanthropology Field School (University of Wisconsin; South Africa)
Turkana Basin Institute Origins Field School (Stony Brook University; Kenya)
Vale Boi Field School (IFR; Portugal)
SPRING AND/OR FALL
Middle Stone Age Research for Undergraduates in Ethiopia (Paleoanthropology Society; Ethiopia; preparation in fall, field work in winter and summer)
Turkana Basin Institute Origins Field School (Stony Brook University; Kenya; spring, summer, and fall)