Admission Information

Basic Requirements for M.A. Applicants

Those without such a background can still be admitted to the program provided they take appropriate courses as prerequisites during the first year of their enrollment; such courses do not have to be taken at GW, and do not count toward degree requirements.

Grad2Grad Program

The Grad2Grad program encourages talented graduating seniors to continue their studies at GW by providing a 10% reduction in tuition. You apply to one of our graduate programs in the usual way, but you do not have to take the GREs.  For more information, click here.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the application deadlines?

For fall admission to the the M.A. program, the Anthropology Department will consider applications received by February 1; for spring admission, applications must be received by October 1. For the Ph.D. program, the admissions deadline for fall is January 5; there is no spring admission.

How do I apply?

Applications are submitted online. For a summary of admissions requirements, click here.

Applications are not considered complete until all transcripts and other materials have been received. The Anthropology Department will not even be aware of your application until the Columbian College dean's office has judged it to be complete and notified us.

All application materials, including letters of reference, go to the Columbian College, not the Anthropology Department. The Department cannot be responsible for any applications or supporting materials misdelivered or lost in transit.

CCAS admissions mailing address:

Columbian College of Arts & Sciences
Office of Graduate Admissions
The George Washington University
Phillips Hall, Room 107
801 22nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

Phone: 202-994-6210
Fax: 202-994-6213
E-mail: askccas@gwu.edu

In addition to your application and application fee, you must submit:

  • Official transcripts of all university-level work
  • GRE scores
  • Letter(s) of recommendation; two are required, more may be submitted
  • Statement of Purpose
  • TOEFL scores, if applicable.

Prospective students are urged to submit applications well before deadlines. Applicants' files are put together in the CCAS dean's office by one of the degree program coordinators and are only sent on to the Department when they are complete. Applicants should check with CCAS at (202) 994-8568 or e-mail about such questions as whether letters of reference have been received.

Do I need to specify a program concentration on my application? What codes do I use?

You do not need to have a program concentration within anthropology. The general code for Anthropology, which you can always use, is 133. If you do want to specify a concentration, use 1000 for international development, 1137 for medical anthropology, and 137 for museum training. The Human Paleobiology program, which is administratively separate from the Anthropology Department, is code 811. (Note that these are internal GW codes and have nothing to do with GRE codes).

How soon will I hear about the decision on my application?

Shortly after the application deadline, a committee of department faculty will review all applications received, and notify applicants of their decision in four to six weeks. Students who apply before February 1 can expect to hear from the Department by March 15.

Do I need to have a B.A. in anthropology to get into the master's program?

No. However, the ideal applicant is someone who has demonstrated success as an undergraduate in all four subfields of anthropology. Students who have missed large areas of anthropology — for instance, by never taking archaeology — may be admitted conditionally. In this example, the student would be required to take an upper-level undergraduate course in archaeology, either at GW or some other school, and get a grade of B or better. This course would not count toward the master's degree.

If you have little or no anthropology on your transcript, your Statement of Purpose should clearly discuss why you are interested in getting an M.A. in anthropology and provide some reassurance to the admissions committee that you are ready to take on the work of catching up quickly on basic background knowledge.  Before applying, confer with the M.A. program's director of graduate studies.

How good do my undergraduate grades have to be?

The Columbian College does not normally accept applicants with undergraduate GPAs of less than 3.0 on a 4-point scale. In recent years, most successful applicants to the Anthropology master's program have had GPAs of 3.3 or above, with a higher average in anthropology courses.

What sort of GRE scores are you looking for?

The University requires GRE scores even from all applicants except holders of a J.D., M.D., or Ph.D. degree. There is no minimum GRE score for admission to the Anthropology program, but the average combined score (verbal plus quantitative) for successful applicants is about 1200. The reporting code for Columbian College is 5246; the optional code for the field of anthropology is 1701.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from a U.S. college or university or from an institution in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction. For details, consult the CCAS graduate program site.

I'm not a native speaker of English. What TOEFL scores do you require?

In general, the department has regarded a TOEFL score of 600 (old norms) or 300 (new norms) as representing the minimum English competence at which a student can function successfully in our program. Students from non-Anglophone countries must take a test of spoken English after their arrival on campus before they are permitted to accept positions as teaching assistants.

How big is the master's program?

There are usually about 35 graduate students in the program, with 15-18 matriculating every year. In recent years, a majority of our students have been in either the international development or museum training concentrations, with the rest in the general master's program. (See the graduate student directory for current data).

What should I do to improve my chances of being accepted?

Your Statement of Purpose is an especially important part of your application; this is your opportunity to articulate, in a mere 500 words, what anthropology means to you, what you intend to do with it, and why the GW program — specifically — is the one for you. The department takes this Statement very seriously, and we strongly urge you to spend time composing an intelligent and well-focused essay. While grades and GREs are important, a strong essay can sometimes outweigh deficiencies in other areas in the decision-making process.

What sort of funding is available for graduate students?

In a typical year, six or more students in Anthropology programs, most of them Ph.D. students, are funded as Graduate Teaching Assistants. They receive tuition benefits and a stipend in return for helping with undergraduate instruction. In most years, one or more other students are recipients of a Shirley H. and Robert L. Richards Endowment Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance.

People returning to school after a prolonged absence should also check out the Ann Gordon Webster Endowment.

We have a regular opening for a student assistant in the Discourse Laboratory and sometimes similar positions elsewhere; these are work-study positions, and it is essential that the students be eligible for this form of financial aid. In addition to the TA and work-study positions, there are often research assistantships at the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology and Anthropological Quarterly employs an editorial assistant, a book review editor, and other staff. Individual faculty members often hire administrative or laboratory assistants, but these positions typically require some sort of special experience (e.g., knowledge of Portuguese, excavation experience).

In addition to fellowships, students may apply to the University for loans and other work-study jobs. For more information on graduate funding opportunities, visit the Office of Graduate Student Fellowships website.

How long does it take to complete the M.A. program?

Usually, the M.A. program takes two years to complete if you attend full-time (three courses per semester). The Columbian College is strongly opposed to students being in a program more than four years. Undergraduates taking advantage of our five-year B.A./M.A. program are able to get their second GW degree in one summer and one academic year.

What about applying to Human Paleobiology?

Human Paleobiology, although housed at the Anthropology Department, is a separate, interdisciplinary, doctoral program with its own admissions committee and procedures. Click here for more information. The director is Dr. Bernard Wood.

Where can I get more information?

For general questions regarding application materials and forms click here. For questions about the Anthropology program, e-mail the department or phone (202) 994-6075. For questions about program concentrations, contact the appropriate advisor: Stephen Lubkemann for international development, Barbara Miller for medical anthropology, and Jeffrey Blomster for museum training.

The department also encourages prospective students to contact faculty and students with interests similar to their own. You can learn about faculty interests from the Faculty Profiles section of this site, or by contacting the department office. The Graduate Students section also lists the program concentrations of current students.