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:

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

A minimum of 36 credits in graduate coursework, including 9 credits in proseminars and 3 credits in an approved methods course. Students must also complete either a thesis (for which they must register for 3 to 6 credits of ANTH 6999 Thesis Research) or a culminating journal article. The remaining credits are fulfilled with electives and, if a concentration was selected, concentration courses. Students are encouraged to plan their programs with an advisor.

Foreign language—There is no language requirement for the MA degree. However, thesis projects that require language skills will only be approved by department advisors provided students show evidence of having language skills that are required.

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
Students must write either a thesis or a culminating journal article. Students who choose to write a thesis must register for 3 to 6 credits of ANTH 6999 Thesis Research..
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.
In addition, students can enrich their degree through courses in programs at GW's other research centers or through the DC- schools consortium.
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 credits) 1
12 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 concentration (12 credits)
ANTH 6301The Anthropology of Development
Two courses selected 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 (HSS) concentration focus options (12 or 15 credits)
The HSS concentration offers a choice of two focus areas: medical anthropology (15 credits) and science and technology studies (12 credits). Please consult with the advisor for each focus area.
HSS concentration—Science and technology studies focus (12 credits):
ANTH 6504Social Study of Science and Technology (This cornerstone course should be taken in the first year of the program.)
One approved 3-credit methods course
6 credits in sociocultural anthropology coursework selected from the list below. For courses not directly focused on health, students should direct their learning toward health issues to the extent possible, e.g., by selecting a health-related term paper topic. With the concentration advisor's permission, other anthropology courses, including courses offered through the Consortium of University of the Washington Metropolitan Area, may be taken to fulfill this concentration requirement.
ANTH 3503Psychological Anthropology (for graduate credit)
ANTH 3991Special Topics (Race and Policing (taken for graduate credit))
ANTH 6506Topics in Medical Anthropology (Culture and Psychiatry)
ANTH 6591Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology (Either Materiality: The Anthropology of Things AND/OR Anthropology of Environmental Politics)
AMST 2620Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence (taken for graduate credit)
AMST 6610Constructing the Natural, Unnatural, and Artifactual
HSS concentration—medical anthropology focus (15 credits):
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology (This graduate seminar is the required cornerstone class and should be taken in the fall of first year)
6 credits in research methods courses, which must include one course in qualitative methods and one 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 courses. For courses not directly focused on health, students should direct their learning, as much as possible, toward health issues, for example, by selecting a health-related term paper topic. (With the concentration advisor's permission, other anthropology courses, including courses offered through the Consortium of University of the Washington Metropolitan Area, may be taken to fulfill this concentration requirement.)
ANTH 6301The Anthropology of Development
ANTH 6302Issues in Development (Anthropology of Intervention)
ANTH 6391Anthropology and Contemporary Problems (Anthropology of Security)
ANTH 6501Gender and Sexuality
ANTH 6504Social Study of Science and Technology
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
ANTH 6506Topics in Medical Anthropology
ANTH 6591Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology (Displacement and Diaspora)
ANTH 6707Issues in Middle East Anthropology (Anthropology of State and Government AND/ OR Anthropology of Citizenship and Displacement)
IAFF 6138Special Topics in International Development Studies (Gender and Development or Indigenous People)
Undergraduate courses and graduate internships may be taken for credit toward the HSS concentration—medical anthropology focus with the permission of the concentration advisor. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
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.)