Picking a Graduate School

Here at Savage Minds headquarters we regularly get emails from people seeking help finding an appropriate graduate program in Anthropology. Looking through our archives, I realize that while I’ve written about making long-term plans, and Rex has written about preparing your application for graduate school (twice, actually), we haven’t really addressed this important question. So here it goes…

Before you do anything else, you should answer the following question: why are you are going to graduate school in anthropology?

If the answer is that you want an academic career in anthropology, you might think twice about graduate school. I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but I think the percentage of current anthropology Ph.D.s who are likely to find tenure track jobs in an anthropology department isn’t much better than the percentage of people in college rock bands who go on to sign deals with major record labels. If rock ‘n roll is in your veins, nobody is going to dissuade you from trying to make a career of it, and if you feel the same way about anthropology I say “Go for it!” Otherwise, I’d suggest something else.

Of course, even within academia there are a range of choices. If signing a tenure track contract at Chicago is the pinnacle of the academic job market there are lots of decent options further down the slope: including teaching in another field or an interdisciplinary department (I’m in a program on “ethnic relations and culture”), teaching at a community college, or teaching outside of the U.S., etc. But even if you do get a job, know that academia almost everywhere is under attack from a range of neoliberal policies and budgetary cutbacks, so be ready for a rough ride.

Some of you might be interested in applied careers. Here I think there are a lot more options and I would be much more encouraging. There is a real demand for people with anthropology degrees in a variety of careers. The AAA has a page listing some of them, and I like this list from the counseling centre at the University of Manitoba, but I think the real list is nearly infinite. Basically anything you can do without an anthropology degree can be done better with an anthropology degree. Or at least I think so, and so (it seems) do many employers.

Knowing the answer to the first question will affect what you do next. I won’t spell out all the possible permutations, but suffice to say that if you want a job at one of the top anthropology programs in the US, you would be best off attending such a program. Sure, someone from a third tier university still has a shot at getting a job a the top programs, but know that the odds are stacked against you. Partially because the top universities are more likely to give you the funding, support, and training necessary to do top-quality work and partially because of the sometimes incestuous nature of the discipline. Still, there are many good reasons you might not simply choose a university based on its ranking. For instance, there might be supporting programs which you might wish to make use of at another university, such as a good film school, or medical school, or linguistics program, etc. This could be especially useful for those going into more applied programs.

One thing I tell international students looking to go to the US is that they are best off applying for a Ph.D. program. Many countries more clearly demarcate the M.A. and Ph.D. and so it is good to know that these programs are likely to be combined in the U.S. Rather than writing an M.A. thesis, you will be required to take the same courses as M.A. students and will receive your M.A. upon completion of your qualifying examinations (and/or submission of your dissertation research proposal). As such, it doesn’t really make sense to apply for an M.A. and doing so will often disqualify you from funding opportunities.

Now we get to the hard part. How to pick the program which is right for you? My response to this question is that if you don’t already know the answer you should give yourself six months to a year to do research on graduate programs. I know it sounds like a long time, but the truth is that it is a very difficult question and researching the answer requires doing a lot of reading. That’s because I think you are best off researching professors, not programs [but see note #1 below]. You need to find people who are doing work that you like, that excites you, that makes you want to give up seven to nine years of your life doing something similar. And the time will be well spent because knowing the answer to this question will not only help you pick good a graduate school, it will also help you prepare your application, making it more likely that you will be accepted to the program of your choice.

Of course, knowing you like the work of a particular professor doesn’t necessarily answer the question of which graduate program you should attend. Because the current job market is such a mess someone who does great work might be unemployed or might be teaching somewhere other than in a graduate program in anthropology. But you can write to that person and ask for advice. Perhaps you could study with their teacher, or one of their classmates, who are at a university better suited to your needs. It also sometimes happens that great programs get split up and the professors scatter to a number of other universities. To sort all this out you need to become a scholar of the recent history of academic anthropology. You should also attend AAA meetings and try to talk your way into some of the various parties being held by the graduate programs you are interested in (often in their hotel rooms after the meetings are over), or perhaps just visit the school and try to talk with some of the graduate students. The point is that if you aren’t simply choosing programs based on the name of the university, it is a difficult choice and requires some careful research. Take the time and do it right.

Finally, everyone should have a “Plan B” (and even “C”). It is sometimes possible to transfer to your first choice program after spending a year or two somewhere else. It is also possible that your second choice turns out to be better than you thought. But also be ready to do something else if a career in anthropology doesn’t turn out the way you wanted. A number of my friends dropped out of academia and while fellow academics treated this as a kind of death, they themselves seem much happier as a result. Sure, they miss it sometimes, but then they come to their senses.


  1. Since I recommended choosing a gradate program based on how much you like the work being done by individual professors, I should add a word of warning: professors can get sick, they can loose their jobs, and they can move to other universities. While finding an individual professor is a good way to start the job hunt, be wary of picking a program because of just one faculty member. Best if there are a couple of professors you would be willing to work with at the same university. You are going to have to take courses with the rest of the faculty anyway, so you’d better like them.

29 thoughts on “Picking a Graduate School

  1. Great post. One of the things I would caution, though, is not to go into a program solely because of one strong professor. When selecting between Ph.D. program funding offers, I chose the one with a professor whose research interests were wonderful and amazingly close to my own. S/he’s a great person and academic, but it became very clear that our communication styles didn’t work together at all.

    At that point, I had no easy “out” to switch advisors, because s/he was the reason I was at that university. I ended up choosing to leave with my M.A., in order to save face for myself and my advisor. I’m looking at programs again, but more cautiously this time — realizing I’d like to find 3-4 interesting professors in one university rather than one!

  2. **Oops! I was responding to the post in my RSS-feed, which lacked your Note 1. But now I see you’ve made this explicit as well — Thanks!

  3. I get these words of wisdom from my professors pretty often, but it’s relieving to get them from outside sources as well. I really appreciate it!

    I’ve been researching graduate schools for about a year and a half, and it’s been quite an experience. Naturally, I started out searching by name of the school, but that really didn’t get me anywhere. Since I started reading blogs, it’s completely changed the way I look at researching graduate programs, and I imagine it’ll produce much more genuine applications. 🙂 Also, the contacts I make at conferences (AAA in Montreal, especially) just pile on many more options.

    One downfall of my strategy (which you touched on): It’s pretty common that I meet people (online or at meetings) with whom I would love to work, but aren’t in a position to be graduate advisers. Sometimes they work in the private sector, other times they are at universities that just don’t have graduate programs.

    Anyway, I think that if someone is reading an anthropology blog (like, you know, Savage Minds), they probably have a pretty good start.

  4. I think this is all good advice, but the first point is the most important: I would suggest that everyone seriously reconsider going to graduate school for an academic job. Some of the most outstanding people coming out of top programs with top professors ARE NOT academic getting jobs anywhere right now because of budget issues, etc, except for lectureships and adjunct positions, which are terrible and not sustainable.

    They don’t tell you this when you begin, and you WILL choose to ignore it while you’re doing the PhD, because you’ll think you’ll be good enough to get a job in this market. But the likelihood is, you won’t. Even if everyone thinks you’re the best at a top program, you may not get a job. I know people years out of the PhD, really top people in all likelihood better and smarter than you, still with no stable job.

    So for everyone considering entering phd programs in anthropology now to eventually end up on the academic job market: RECONSIDER.

    That cushy tenured future you imagine for yourself is an illusion.

  5. Thanks for this posting. I agree with most of what you write – the only thing I’m uncertain about is the emphasis on finding a “good school”. It’s been my experience that, while all you say about support etc. are true, having a well-respected advisor is as important as being at a good school. An advisor’s connections are really critical to the networking that begins in graduate school and may lead to job opportunities down the line. A second-tier school with good faculty mentors would still be worth applying to in my opinion.

  6. Gloomy prognostications like this have been made about the academic job market for as long as I can remember (goes back about 20 years, I guess). Much of what Kerim writes here is true. The numbers in American universities do not add up: there are more PhDs in Anthropology (or Sociology) being produced than there are tenure track faculty positions in the US. In part this is due to the fact that American higher education is static, and in some places (like California where I occupy one of the sainted t-t positions in sociology), is actually in decline.

    In short, as we have been preaching for many years in our classes, the great American hegemon is indeed in decline. What we leave out is that one symptom of this is the mismatch PhD positions, and the number of t-t positions in the US. The result is that those of us on search committees wade through 70 or 80 applications for even the most narrowly written Assistant Professor position at a place like Chico State. I would guess that those at the top of the old status system in the US (i.e. the Research I universities), get several hundred. These odds are not that reassuring to the newly minted PhD, even if each applicant is sending out forty applications.

    But there is a bright spot, which is the fact that university systems in other countries are in fact expanding, particularly in Asia and Europe. There are explicit policies in both continents to set up new “international” universities. There is public and private money to do this, too, in the European Union, and any number of Asian countries. American PhD students even have some advantage in such markets, including since “international” typically means English-speaking, and locals able/willing to lecture in English are often hard to come by. Thankfully, for Americans, too, the US American PhD still also holds a (perhaps undeserved) mystique. My point being that if I were a 30 or 35 year-old new PhD. I would cast my job much wider than the AAA job listings.

    I suspect that Kerim and John McCreery are better position than I to address the job situation in Asia—perhaps they could offer some pointers on the market for permanent academic jobs?

  7. @Tony

    The Asian academic job market probably deserves its own post, but I’ll make a few brief points: (1) Outside of India, Singapore and HK, and the very top schools in other countries, you will likely have to work and teach in the local language. (2) While there is growth in the university systems, it is mostly science, business, and IT related. Social sciences are still weak and salaries are low. (3) There is an increasing focus on using quantified metrics (like the number of SCCI listed publications) to evaluate faculty performance. (4) The longer you are outside of the US, the harder it is to maintain the connections and networks which would make it easy to move back if that is your long-term goal. (5) While you might find a decent position, unless your partner is from the country you are working in, he or she might have a tough time of it. (6) Competition is tough. While there are a lot of opportunities, there are also a lot of people from these countries with European or American Ph.D.s who want these jobs as well and many hiring committees will see them as being more likely to stick around for the long-term.

    Having said all that, I think it is a wonderful thing to do. Just understand that every choice comes with its own problems and issues.

  8. @Tony

    I’ll second everything Kerim says. The back story here is that the global economic crisis is, in fact, global. To that you can add what was a cover story in China Daily a few months ago. Asian countries find themselves in the paradoxical situation where falling birth rates mean fewer students in the long run. At this historical moment, however, universities are pumping out far more graduates than there are middle-class jobs for. The focus on STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Medical) fields reflects the overriding priority placed on economic growth. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake, especially in the humanities and social sciences, is on the back burner everywhere.

  9. This is a great post, Kerim. I think that we all need to have more conversations about issues like this that address some of the actual issues that students are facing when thinking about grad school…and the job market at the other end.

    “That’s because I think you are best off researching professors, not programs [but see note #1 below]. You need to find people who are doing work that you like, that excites you, that makes you want to give up seven to nine years of your life doing something similar.”

    I agree with this completely. Find the right people and that will go a long way. Find people who you click with, who click with you, and who have the time and interest to work with you. That’s really important advice. If you get into the BIG NAME PROGRAM but don’t have anyone who has the time to work with you, then it’s pretty pointless. Grad school is hard enough as it is, and finding people who you can work well with goes a long way.

    “If the answer is that you want an academic career in anthropology, you might think twice about graduate school.”

    I think this is a good point too. When I used to hear this kind of pragmatic assessment of the situation, I used to find it pretty depressing. But it’s true, and the old school model of anthropology is probably going to have to change in the future. Still, I think Tony makes a good point when he says that there have been pretty gloomy prognostications about the anthro job market for decades. One established anthropologist that I talked to earlier this year said that everyone was complaining about the lack of jobs in the 1980s too. So…that’s just the way things go, and we all have to figure our ways around it. Some folks will end up in those academic slots, others will find different avenues. Maybe the upcoming generations have to learn to be more flexible, cast a wider net, and start rethinking what “being an anthropologist” is all about. We can either be depressed that times have changed, or we can work to find new/different ways to take anthropology. Both my wife and I are getting PhD’s in anthropology, and we talk about this all the time: We HAVE to be flexible, and we definitely are not going to bank on academia.

    “To sort all this out you need to become a scholar of the recent history of academic anthropology. You should also attend AAA meetings and try to talk your way into some of the various parties being held by the graduate programs you are interested in (often in their hotel rooms after the meetings are over), or perhaps just visit the school and try to talk with some of the graduate students.”

    This is also really good advice IMO. Go beyond the PR version of the department that’s on their website. Contacting profs is a good idea, and so is going to the AAA meetings to meet some people from from different programs. I highly recommend contacting current grad students, especially the ones who work with the prof(s) you are interested in. IMPORTANT: Try to get some insight from more than one grad student, just to make sure you’re getting a good representation of the program. You don’t want the rose-colored version of the program…but you also don’t want the disgruntled version. You just want to know what the program is like, how the funding situation is, and how it is to work with different professors. Grad students are a great resource for finding out more about a program.

    Thanks for posting this Kerim. This is important stuff, especially since applying to grad programs can be so stressful, and sometimes it’s really difficult to tell which program is the best fit.

  10. Anthropology is a social science, so we shouldn’t be afraid to consider some numbers here. What is the PhD completion rate for accepted students in your intended program? Of those completed PhDs, how many end up in prestigious post-docs or tenure-track faculty lines? Most graduate program administrators can produce recent figures, if pressed; if they seem hesitant to do so, there might be a reason.

    These questions can be asked of individual faculty members as well. Do your intended primary advisor’s students finish, and do they get the sorts of jobs that you want for yourself? Some big names got to be big on the backs of exploited grad student labor. Consider potential gender issues as well- does this intended male advisor produce successful female PhDs?

    To me, these questions are far more important than any other issues. Grad school is a means to an end, and you should chose one that has proven to get its students to their intended academic goals.

  11. A year out of college I was bored and decided to go back to grad school on a lark, really. I was living in Raleigh, NC, at the time as my wife was going to NCSU. The only schools I considered applying to were UNC and Duke because I could reach them by commuting, since I couldn’t get to different schools I applied to programs in different disciplines.

    At UNC I applied to the MA in linguistics, the MAT program, and PhD in anthropology. At Duke I applied to the MAT program (their anthro dept was not accepting new students that year). I was placed on the wait list for the PhD, then moved up in the rankings and eventually got offered a position.

    One advantage of this non-strategy (or accidental strategy) is that I had already been in North Carolina for 12 months before I applied, which means that I was able to secure in-state tuition in my first semester.

  12. Apparently those of you saying “nah, everyone says this all the time, it’s no different from the 80s” haven’t seen this? It’s not that there are no jobs, it’s that there are mostly these kinds of jobs:


    So no, we’re not dealing with the same field we were in the 80s. Prospective grad students looking for an academic job in the US: unless you love adjuncting for 3000/course or less and no benefits, you might want to go into something else instead of spending 6-10 years on this.

  13. @Claire:

    “Apparently those of you saying “nah, everyone says this all the time, it’s no different from the 80s” haven’t seen this? It’s not that there are no jobs, it’s that there are mostly these kinds of jobs…”

    Yep. I think most people are aware of the fact that the tenure system is getting gutted…and that anthropology “ain’t what it used to be.” I guess the point with bringing up the 1980s (or any other decade) is that maybe there isn’t much use in idealizing what anthropology used to be like in the days of yore. Those days are gone. Yep, things are definitely different, and people are getting paid next to nothing and getting jobs with less and less security. Why? Because it’s cheaper, of course, and because there is a huge pool of applicants to choose from. And more and more people enter this pool every year.

    For me the question is what we all decide to do about this. Keep playing along? Try to change how things work? What options or alternatives are out there?

  14. I was going say something like “it could be worse, it could be the thirties” since our discipline did, after all, institutionalize itself in that period. But of course that was the era when we were building a social safety net, not tearing it down…

  15. I found work abroad after my MA in anthropology, which I don’t think I would have found in the U.S,. but it was anthropology itself – the research and language experience in-country – that made me eligible for the job. Choosing a fieldsite strategically in a growing area of Asia could be beneficial here. Speaking from Kazakhstan, there are some faculty jobs opening at new universities, but it’s still quite competitive for social sciences faculty — far more competitive than for STEM sciences faculty, who also get paid better! The sciences are what these growing nations want, and anthropology could almost be done better from within the sciences rather than trying to gain a career from the vantage of the “lowly” social sciences.

  16. Well, I will speak to what I know about the German/European academic system. Many of the warnings that John and Kerim write of apply. It is not the same as the US, and if your long-term goal is to get a tenure track position in the US, you are probably better off going the lecturer/freeway flier route, but having said that….

    Germany, and more generally Europe, is undergoing an unprecedented expansion in their university system in the name of the European Union. More money is being invested, faculty hired and new programs established with the goal of raising the percentage of the population which is educated at the university level. Many of them are in STEM subjects, but they are also in Culture Studies and Business, both fields which are interested in various flavors of anthropology. In the case of Business, there is a strong interest in how to market, work, buy, and sell cross-culturally.

    Hiring of recent PhD.s for teaching positions is straightforward—in Germany you are called a “academic worker” and also expected to teach. It is a cross between an Assistant Professor and Post-Doc. The advantage of these positions is that you can continue your research, and also teach at upper division and graduate levels. In other words, you are not a freeway flier with semester-to-semester teaching contract and a withering research program. The disadvantage is that the equivalent of “tenure” is not possible in these positions, and you are automatically laid off after 4 years or so. A permanent position requires another layer of competition which is often undertaken at about age 35-40. In Germany this is called “habilitation” which is a very chummy “second doctorate,” awarded by the academy there. Those not selected are often shunted off to industry, or go on the US market where as Kerim and John noted, they may have lost their edge (“How can we possibly hire an anthropologist who has taught in a Culture Studies program, whatever that is….”)_

    One advantage of the European system is that all levels of higher education are in the process of being articulated with each other under the “Bologna Process.” In theory this means that the tertiary systems (BA, MA, PhD, and faculty) are being harmonized. This means that credit is freely transferred back and forth between the universities of 20+ countries, at least in theory. This harmoniization has been going on for about ten years, and each country still has its own informal hiring and promotion practices, just like the US does. But most importantly, this is happening in the context of increasing funding for higher education, not static or declining funding. It is one of the reasons, too that I think that there is more future opportunity in Europe than in the United States.

    A final advantage for to all this, at least for Americans, is that all this “internationalization” means that delivery of upper division and graduate level classes is valued in English. This is happening in all European countries, and is the way I have been able to pick up gigs at two different German universities. If you can adapt your classes on cultural anthropology to a Business or Culture Studies curriculum, you may be good to go. Germans at least also appreciate social theory more than Americans—something that I at least appreciate. The students are also excellent, and enjoy more philosophical approaches to the social sciences, business, etc.

    I hope that Kerim, John, or Celia can put together his thoughts about the Asian academic job market, too!

  17. Tony, I wish I had something useful to say about the academic job market in Asia. Fact is, I don’t. I haven’t made my living in academia since not getting tenure in the USA in 1976. My sagacious spouse brought us to Japan in 1980. One of her colleagues provided the introduction that got me into the fringes of the Japanese advertising business. A shared interest in personal computing was the connection that got me hired as an English-language copywriter by a Japanese advertising agency in 1984. It was around then that I gave up the idea of pursuing an academic career as a way to put bread on the table. My ancestral role models are now folks like Lewis Henry Morgan, who made his living as a lawyer, or Benjamin Whorf, a fire insurance adjuster.

  18. I’m skeptical about the positive description of the academic job market in Germany. The situation at “regular” universities (which are not Business Schools, are not part of the “Exzellenzinitiative”, are not associated with the Max Planck Institute etc.) is not that good.

    1) If you want to get a Dr. in Germany, notice: that not every university has a grad school, that grad schools exist no more than several years ago, that you might have to write in german, that you – in the worst case – won’t get more than 1000 Euro/Month (which is really nothing), that you only get paid during three or four years.
    There are two “classic” ways to get a Dr.: a) you work as a an assistant. In this case you work for a prof as a secretary and your salary comes from the structural budget of the chair you’re working for. The disadvantages are obvious: you won’t have time to write your first book and you depend in every way on your prof.
    b) You have third party support (DFG, EU, private foundation etc.), which is a good thing (if you have a good adviser who cares about you and your project).

    2) Being a Post Doc in Europe can be hard. If you’re from the US and an European university wants you, of course you’ll receive a good offer. But this is a special case. The post docs I know are all freeway flier. During the bologna process many universities antiquitate the “Oberassistent” (= academic worker with a long term contract and no pressure to become a prof) so that it has become very difficult to get a stable income. Of course you can become a “Privatdozent” (PD) but then you’re forced to teach – sometimes without a salary. The situation of the “Privatdozent” is still the same which Max Weber described once.

  19. @JayKay. There is certainly nothing ideal about Germany, and the problems you describe are real. But keep in mind, I spent 2008-2009 in California on a 10% furlough even with tenure, and many of my colleagues on temporary contracts were laid off. The problem is that the university system in the United States is static or even contracting, while that in Europe, even with all its own ways of exploitation, is expanding.

    @ John. I had a look at your website. Looks to me like you have had a rich and intellectually stimulating life as many of us academia. You’ve been able to do many things and have insights about Japan which no one isolated in a Research I tenured position could have had. It sounds too like you are in good company with Whorf and Morgan–I would add Alfred Schutz the banker/lawyer to your list of social scientists who have made major contributions from outside academia.

  20. @Tony

    Are you the Tony Waters who teaches at Chico State, whose piece on “Could be worse” I just read on ethnography.com?

    If so, it sounds like you have had a pretty interesting life yourself. Fluency in Swahili and Thai–that is a combination that has to be rare as hens’ teeth.

  21. What I’m about to say is of no use at all to anyone for whom finding an academic job is an urgent concern. But if you take a longer view and are open to other possibilities, there is, I suggest, is lot to be hopeful about. I am old enough to remember when losing access to university libraries and academic colleagues pretty much killed any hope of doing academic research. Thanks to the Internet that’s not true anymore. Flexible work schedules give you choices. Some people play golf or basketball. Others read, think and write. Online communities like Savage Minds and the Open Anthropology Cooperative offer access to stimulating colleagues.

    In my own case, not getting tenure in 1976 left me mortified. After thrashing around for a couple of years, I shut down my academic interests to focus on a new career and family. It could be more than a decade before, in my forties, that I dug up some field notes, wrote a small paper and timidly sent it off to a minor journal–that accepted and published it. That awakened old ambitions.

    Why then? Why at that point in my life? Had something to do I’m sure with finding myself in my forties with a suddenly teenaged daughter–for a dad a life-changing experience, I was lucky, too, to have found an economic niche that made self-funding research and occasional participation in academic meetings possible. I note in passing that if you live in a city, don’t own a car and avoid other expensive hobbies, buying books and occasional travel is no big deal. And, then, this was the late 1980s, the Internet was happening. If I needed books, Amazon would deliver them to me. If I needed advice or a chance to talk about this crazy stuff I was interested in, it was no longer hard to find people with similar interests.

    Plus, the great thing about anthropology is that our subject matter, humanity, is wherever we are. There are, of course, a myriad topics on which you have to be somewhere else to do the ethnography. But when it comes to the big questions, what makes us human? Where do our dreams come from? How do we interact with other human beings? The relevant data are all around us.

  22. John, thanks so much for this comment. It encapsulates a great deal of what I love about our discipline and the rank-and-file scholars that make up the bulk of its community. I think I’m on the McCreery career plan too. I ten years I’ll have three, count ’em three, teenaged daughters!

  23. I wanted to go to graduate school for anthropology, but the idea of taking on another huge burden of loans in an unpredictable job market is more than I can bear, especially since I landed a decent job with a bunch of linguists, anyway. I have no doubt that an anthropology degree would have really benefited me and I regret that I might not ever have an opportunity for formal schooling in the field, but I spend a lot of time reading blogs like this and books about culture and gender in China. I’m just trying to get an education without getting a degree.

  24. I can tell you honestly, I own an archaeology site and go to school full-time, but I’m taking a year to decide if I really want to go back for graduate school. I owned two restaurants in the past and I plan on opening a third in Chicago in the next two years. This way, I’ll be situated near the graduate school I want to go to, and I’ll be making a full-time income at the same time. I don’t want to take out more loans, and then down the road, figure out that there’s no jobs out there when I finish.

    I’m certainly keeping my options open. I love archaeology, but I’ve also been in the restaurant field all my life. I want to own another before I’m too old.

  25. I’d be really curious to hear from someone who did the whole PhD thing with the aim of an academic career, but who ended up getting into another field entirely, for which their expertise is somewhat relevant, if not what they expected they’d be doing. I’m committed to seeing this through, but I wonder, how does one get into a new field with only academic qualifications and about 10 years of potential work experience lost? That’s what worries me.

  26. Jen, I am one such person. My career arc has led me from undergraduate philosophy to a Ph.D. in Anthropology, specializing in Chinese popular religion, to a career in advertising in Japan, and now, in my sixties, a comfortable life as an owner/partner in a small translation and copywriting business . Some years ago I was asked to write about this experience for the Association of Asian Studies Newsletter. I did. Send me an email (john.mccreery@gmail.com) and I will be happy to send you a copy.

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