MA in Anthropology

students removing turf from a field site

The 36-credit Master of Arts in Anthropology program provides a grounding in the foundational concepts of the discipline: biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology and archaeology. MA graduates learn to synthesize diverse data about human beings, an increasingly valued skill in a variety of professions and academic settings.

Students may earn their degree in general anthropology or in one of three concentrations: international development, museum training, or health, science, and society. Of the 14–18 students admitted to the program each year, about one-third choose to pursue a concentration.

*GRE scores are not required for application to the MA, MS and PhD programs and, if submitted with the application, will play no role in our departmental admissions decisions. The department of anthropology values building a thriving intellectual community that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. We do not consider GRE scores to be a valid predictor of intellectual promise — indeed we believe the GRE often promotes injustices that are contrary to our values.

Culminating Project

Master’s students complete a culminating project that can take the form of a thesis or a journal paper. Students in the Development and Museum Training concentrations are not required to complete a thesis, but students in those fields may substitute six credit hours of thesis work for coursework. Learn more about culminating projects in the Anthropology Graduate Student Guide (PDF)


"My master’s in anthropology from GW has been essential to my professional success."

Christina Samuels
MA ’13
Education Policy Manager, The New York Immigration Coalition


Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 36 credits, including 9 credits in proseminars, 3 credits in an approved methods course, 18 to 24 credits in elective courses, and 3 to 6 credits in thesis. Students are encouraged to plan their programs with an advisor.

Foreign language requirement

Students with fewer than four semesters of a major foreign language taken at the undergraduate level must demonstrate a reading knowledge of an approved language before beginning the third semester of graduate work.

Core requirements
At least three proseminars selected from the following:
ANTH 6101Proseminar in Biological Anthropology
ANTH 6102Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 6103Proseminar in Archaeology
ANTH 6104Proseminar in Linguistic Anthropology
Students with significant background in a field, as determined by evaluation of a petition to the proseminar instructor, may waive one proseminar. Those who are permitted to waive a proseminar must take one course from group A and one from Group B.
Group A
ANTH 6101Proseminar in Biological Anthropology
or ANTH 6103 Proseminar in Archaeology
Group B
ANTH 6102Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
or ANTH 6104 Proseminar in Linguistic Anthropology
One approved 3-credit methods course.
Thesis or other culminating project
3 to 6 credits in courses leading to a thesis or other culminating project, depending on which concentration the student pursues.
18 to 24 credits in elective courses, depending on the number of credits taken in core course requirements. Students may choose to pursue a concentration (below), in which case any credits remaining after core and concentration requirements have been met are taken in elective courses.
Optional concentrations
In addition to completing all core requirements for the degree, students may choose to pursue a concentration as part of their program of study. All requirements for the concentration must be fulfilled.
Museum training concentration (12 to 15 credits) 1
12 to 15 credits in courses selected from the following. 6 of these credits may be in an internship.
ANTH 6200Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6201Methods in Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6203Preventive Conservation Concepts
ANTH 6204Preventive Conservation Techniques
ANTH 6205Problems in Conservation
ANTH 6230Internship in Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6291Special Topics in Museum Anthropology
ANTH 6508Ethics and Cultural Property
International development (15 credits)
ANTH 6301The Anthropology of Development
Two courses from the following:
ANTH 6302Issues in Development
ANTH 6330Internship in Development Anthropology
ANTH 6391Anthropology and Contemporary Problems
ANTH 6501Gender and Sexuality
ANTH 6507Nationalism and Ethnicity
One approved graduate-level course in quantitative analysis.
Health, science, and society (15 credits)
Students who choose to pursue the health, science, and society (HSS) concentration do so in one of two focus areas: Science and technology studies or medical anthropology.
HSS concentration—Science and technology studies focus:
ANTH 6504Social Study of Science and Technology
Two courses selected from the following (see courses at bottom of concentration as well):
ANTH 3602Ethnographic Analysis of Speech 3
ANTH 3603Psycholinguistics 3
ANTH 3604Culture and Media 3
ANTH 3625Ethnographic and Historical Perspectives on Data Ethics 3
AMST 2610Science, Technology, and Politics in Modern America 3
AMST 2620Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence 3
AMST 2630Discovering the Mind (for graduate credit)
AMST 6190Topics in American Studies
HSS concentration—medical anthropology focus:
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
6 credits in research methods courses, which must include one course in qualitative methods and one required course in quantitative methods, selected from the following:
Qualitative methods course options:
ANTH 6331Research Methods in Development Anthropology
ANTH 6531Methods in Sociocultural Anthropology
SOC 6232Qualitative Methods
Quantitative methods course options:
PUBH 6003Principles and Practices of Epidemiology
6 credits in sociocultural anthropology coursework selected from the following. Other ANTH courses may be approved by the concentration advisor, including courses at GW and those offered through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. For courses not directly focused on health, students should direct their learning, as far as possible, toward health issues, for example, by selecting a health-related topic in a course that requires or allows a paper. 4
ANTH 6301The Anthropology of Development
ANTH 6302Issues in Development
ANTH 6391Anthropology and Contemporary Problems
ANTH 6501Gender and Sexuality
ANTH 6504Social Study of Science and Technology
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
ANTH 6506Topics in Medical Anthropology (Culture and Psychiatry)
ANTH 6591Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 6707Issues in Middle East Anthropology
IAFF 6138Special Topics in International Development Studies (Gender and Development or Indigenous People)
The following courses may be taken for credit toward the HSS concentration—medical anthropology focus with the permission of the concentration advisor:
ANTH 3503Psychological Anthropology
ANTH 6330Internship in Development Anthropology

1Students whose primary interest is in museum techniques, rather than anthropology, are advised to apply to the MA in museum studies program. (Note that an MA in teaching in the field of museum education is also available through the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.)

2The Elliott School of International Affairs offers a number of courses relevant to the study of anthropology through its international development studies program.

3Taken for graduate credit.

4Visit the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area website for additional information.