MA in Anthropology


Students digging at an excavation in ireland


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.

We are accepting applications for the MA Program for Fall 2021 until the deadline of February 1, 2021.*

*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.



"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

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)


Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

General requirements
At least three of the following proseminars:
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 each of the following groups:
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.
All students must complete the general requirements for the degree. They may, in addition, elect to pursue a concentration as part of their program of study. All requirements for the concentration must be fulfilled.
Museum training
12 to 15 credits in museum-related courses selected from the following, 6 credits of which 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
Students whose primary interest is in museum techniques, rather than anthropology, are advised to apply to the master’s program in museum studies (see Master of Arts in the field of museum studies in this Bulletin). Note that a program in museum education is also available through the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
International development
15 credits in courses in areas such as economic change, population, health, education, migration, and ecology, within an anthropological framework and courses designed to improve the student’s understanding of development problems. Note that the Elliott School of International Affairs offers a program in international development studies with a disciplinary specialization in anthropology.
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 in related courses in the areas of health, science, and society. Choose one focus area, either Science and Technology Studies or Medical Anthropology
Health, science, and society concentration (Science and technology studies focus)
The program of study is the same as that described for the general degree, but must also include the core seminar:
ANTH 6504Social Study of Science and Technology
Two courses from the following (see courses at bottom of concentration as well):
ANTH 3603Psycholinguistics (for graduate credit)
ANTH 3604Culture and Media (for graduate credit)
ANTH 3625Ethnographic and Historical Perspectives on Data Ethics (for graduate credit)
AMST 2610Science, Technology, and Politics in Modern America (for graduate credit)
AMST 2620Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence (for graduate credit)
AMST 2630Discovering the Mind (for graduate credit)
AMST 6190Topics in American Studies
ANTH 3602Ethnographic Analysis of Speech (for graduate credit)
Medical Anthropology focus
Required core course:
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
Two courses from the following (see courses at bottom of concentration as well):
ANTH 6302Issues in Development
ANTH 6501Gender and Sexuality
One of the following research methods options for the Medical Anthropology focus
Option A
ANTH 6331Research Methods in Development Anthropology
PUBH 6003Principles and Practices of Epidemiology
Option B
Two courses from the following:
PUBH 6410Global Health Study Design
PUBH 6411Global Health Qualitative Research Methods
PUBH 6412Global Health Quantitative Research Methods
The following courses can count for BOTH foci
ANTH 6391Anthropology and Contemporary Problems
ANTH 6506Topics in Medical Anthropology (Culture and Psychiatry)
Foreign language requirement
Students with fewer than four undergraduate semesters of a major foreign language must demonstrate a reading knowledge of an approved language before beginning the third semester of graduate work.