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The Master of Arts Degree

The Master of Arts in Anthropology is awarded to students who demonstrate a substantial command of the subject matter of the discipline and an ability to engage in the professional pursuits of anthropologists.

Admission requirements for the Master's Degree Program

  • a baccalaureate degree - not necessarily in the discipline of anthropology - or its equivalent, from an accredited college or university
  • recent GRE scores
  • a statement of career goals along with the application.

Students from countries in which English is not the primary language must also submit TOEFL scores; additionally, all foreign students must provide immigration forms guaranteeing financial support.

Degree Requirements for the Master's Degree

For the Master's degree in anthropology, a student must complete with a GPA of 3.0 or better and satisfy the following:

  1. Pass, with a B- or better, four 4-credit courses from the identified subfield distribution lists (see lists below), including at least one course in sociocultural anthropology and in each of two additional subfields. Specific courses selected must be approved by the student's principal advisor.
  2. Pass, with a B- or better, at least six additional credits (exclusive of ANTH 580, 590, 591 [or equivalent] and including no more than 4 credits of ANTH 597 and/or ANTH 599); these may be chosen from the identified subfield distribution courses or from other courses offered within or outside of the department (but no more than four credits taken outside of anthropology may be counted). Specific courses selected must be approved by the student's principal advisor.
  3. Pass ANTH 501 (History of Anthropological Thought) and ANTH 504 (Current Issues and Debates in Anthropology) with grades of B- or better
  4. Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4-point scale, where A = 4). Additional credits beyond this minimum may be required to meet the academic goals established in consultation with the student's principal advisor.
  5. Present a colloquium to their advisor and reader in the third semester of full-time registration in which the research plans for the master's thesis or two-paper option are presented. For part-time students, the colloquium must be presented prior to the completion of 30 graduate credits.
  6. Satisfy the foreign language requirement (see below).
  7. Submit an acceptable Master's thesis or, in lieu of the thesis, and with the approval of the instructors to whom the papers were originally submitted, offer two research papers (the "two-paper option") to fulfill the final requirement for the Master's degree. The choice between these options must be approved by the student's principal advisor. (See appendix 1 in "Guidelines to Graduate Study").

Foreign Language Requirement: Students are required to demonstrate an ability to read research literature in a major language of scholarship other than English. This language requirement may be fulfilled in a number of ways. Students may undertake to translate, or to read and be examined on, a journal article of about 10 pages selected with the advice and consent of the principal advisor. Alternatively, students may take a translation exam, supervised within the department or through the Translation Research and Instruction Program (TRIP); exam passages are typically about 500 words long and the student, using a dictionary, is given two hours in which to complete a working translation. Students who need to acquire reading knowledge of an appropriate foreign language are encouraged to register for TRIP 707 Foreign Language Research Proficiency, a variable-credit course designed to bring the student to reading competence by the end of one semester.

Distribution Requirement

The following courses are applicable toward the subfield distribution requirement:


ANTH 551 Strategies of Archaeology
ANTH 552 History of Archaeological Theory and Practice
ANTH 554 Archaeological Study of Cultural Systems
ANTH 576 Problems in Archaeological Area Studies
ANTH 583 and ANTH 585 may count for the subfield distribution requirement with permission of instructor.

Biological Anthropology

ANTH 515 Evolutionary Theory
ANTH 540 Human Skeletal Biology
ANTH 543 Human Biological Variation
ANTH 547 Anthropological Genetics
ANTH 549 Medical Anthropology
ANTH 572G Reproductive Ecology
ANTH 572N Molecular Lab


ANTH 517 Linguistic Anthropology
ANTH 521 Descriptive Linguistics
ANTH 524 Topics in Linguistic Anthropology (524A-M)
ANTH 525: Language, Culture and Semiotics
ANTH 568 Language & Development

Sociocultural Anthropology

All courses listed for sociocultural anthropology fulfill requirement except ANTH 519, ANTH 530, or ANTH 531.

Independent Study

Independent study provides a means for students to build upon a foundation of regular offerings/instruction. It serves to expand the curriculum in the form of guided readings and research. Independent study credits will normally be accumulated beyond the minimum degree requirements by students interested in building depth in topics not covered by regularly scheduled courses. Independent studies are generally available only to students who have completed 24 credit hours of regular graduate instruction. Further, independent study credit is usually not counted toward the minimum 30 credit hours required for the MA degree.

Consult the most recent Graduate School Student Handbook for more information.

Guidelines for Graduate Study in Anthropology

Students are advised to consult the department's "Guidelines for Graduate Study" for additional information regarding graduate orientation, funding, time-to-degree expectations and degree requirements.


Last Updated: 8/2/16