Medical Anthropology @ UF

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida offers graduate training in medical anthropology, with an interdisciplinary focus on the intersection of sociocultural, environmental, and biological factors in global health. The program in medical anthropology draws on all traditional subfields of anthropology and on departmental strengths in applied anthropology. Students in medical anthropology also benefit from departmental strengths in research methods and design. The Department has strong links to other units on campus, including an option to combine the PhD in anthropology with a Masters of Public Health (MPH). We also welcome inquiries from prospective students in the MD-PhD program.

Demand for medical anthropology

Intellectual strengths

Among health researchers, there is growing awareness of the need for an integrative, multilevel approach to the study of population health. For example, recent reports from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Research Council (NRC) emphasize the need to integrate research on the sociocultural, environmental, behavioral, physiological, and molecular influences on health (Hernandez and Blazer, 2006; National Research Council, 2001; National Institutes of Health, 2001). Broadly trained anthropologists are particularly well equipped to address this need, because of the discipline's unique holistic, cross-cultural, and evolutionary perspective.

Within the parent discipline, medical anthropology has the potential to bridge the growing divide between subdisciplines—particularly between cultural and biological anthropology.  Because health is fundamentally biocultural, anthropologists from different subfields and from diverging epistemological perspectives manage to find common ground in medical anthropology.  For example, a leading textbook (Joralemon, 2006) argues for the complementary value of interpretive, critical, political-economic, ecological, and evolutionary approaches to the study of human health and healing. This approach reinforces the value of four-field anthropology and counteracts growing fragmentation along subdisciplinary lines.

Employment opportunities

Students trained in medical anthropology have strong employment prospects for academic and nonacademic positions. Within academic anthropology, there has been steady growth in the number of faculty positions for medical anthropologists over the last decade. Medical anthropologists are also well qualified for faculty positions in medicine, public health, nursing, and allied disciplines. In addition, medical anthropologists have strong prospects for nonacademic positions in the government, nonprofit, or private sector.

Our department has a strong track record of placing graduates in both academic and nonacademic jobs. Medical anthropologists who received their Ph.D. in our department within the last five years are currently employed in tenure-track positions in anthropology, in teaching and research positions in medical schools and other health-related disciplines, at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in international development agencies, and in domestic nonprofit organizations.

Medical anthropologists are also competitive for many postdoctoral research opportunities. For example, among the programs that have supported medical anthropologists, including some from our department, are the following:

Department Strengths

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida is among the top-ranked departments in the country. There are 35 faculty members in the Department of Anthropology and another two dozen anthropologists in other units on campus. In particular, anthropologists hold faculty and research positions in several health-related fields, including the College of Nursing, the College of Dentistry, and College of Medicine, and the College of Public Health and Health Professions.

Many of the strengths that distinguish the Department as a whole benefit the program in medical anthropology in particular. These strengths include:

We invite you to explore these pages to learn more about relevant resources in our department and at the university in general.