MA Concentrations

student working in lab

Many students choose to specialize in a particular anthropological field as a direct path to a professional career, a PhD in Anthropology or another professional field such as law or medicine. Students who choose a concentration complete a set of required courses as part of the 36-credit hours required for the MA program.

Questions? Contact the appropriate concentration advisor.

International Development

The 15-credit international development concentration provides perspective on the causes and consequences of world problems like hunger, health, economic globalization and forced migration, and prepares students for careers in development work or PhD training. Students with no prior professional experience are especially encouraged to find internships at local and international organizations. Note: It is possible to double-concentrate in International Development and Health, Science, Society.

Students in the International Development concentration gain skills including:

  • Critical thinking, reading and speaking
  • Analytical writing
  • Critical literature review
  • Research methods, especially short-term methods, for data collection
  • Professional experience through a reflective internship and report

Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are required.

Four-field foundation (3-12 credits) 

Students with advanced undergraduate classes may be waived out of any of the proseminars other than Sociocultural Anthropology

  • ANTH 6101, Biological Anthropology
  • ANTH 6102, Sociocultural Anthropology*
  • ANTH 6103, Archaeology
  • ANTH 6104, Linguistic Anthropology

Development concentration (15 credits)

  • ANTH 6301*, Anthropology of Development (theory)
  • ANTH 6331*, Methods in Development Anthropology (mainly qualitative methods)
  • Two additional anthropology courses related to development*, as broadly defined (can include three credits for ANTH 6330: Internship in Development Anthropology)
  • Quantitative Methods (3 credits)*: 
    Can be a course economics, geography, public health or another field, as long as it focuses on quantitative analysis. Various courses have different expectations for previous quantitative analysis knowledge, so students are advised to ask the professor for the syllabus and advice.

Electives (9-18 credits, depending on the number of proseminars taken). Popular options include courses in:

Popular options include courses in international affairs, law, public health, education, public administration and women's, gender and sexuality studies.

Culminating Project (no credits)

Health, Science, and Society

Health, Science, and Society focuses on cross-cultural patterns of health, illness and healing within the context of cultural change. This 15 credit hour concentration, within the overall MA program of 36 credit hours, offers two focus areas: Medical Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies. Each focus area requires a cornerstone seminar.


Required course work:

The Medical Anthropology focus area emphasizes coursework on cross-cultural health, illness, and healing with attention to global, regional, and local social change; social inequality and health justice; and health programs and policies. Courses include theoretical inquiry, ethnographic content, and research and analytical skills.

Advisor: Prof. Barbara Miller is the advisor for students opting for the medical anthropology focus area within the Health, Science, and Society Concentration.

Required courses for the 15 credit-hour concentration:

  • ANTH 6505 (3 credits), Medical Anthropology: This graduate seminar is the required cornerstone class and should be taken in fall of the first year.
  • Six credit hours of methods including one required course in qualitative methods and one required course in quantitative methods:
    • Qualitative methods: Options for fulfilling the qualitative methods requirement include:
      • ANTH 6531. Methods in Sociocultural Anthropology
      • ANTH 6331 Research Methods in Development Anthropology
      • SOC 6232 Qualitative Methods: Doing Field Research
    • Quantitative methods:
      • PUBH 6003 Principles and Practices of Epidemiology
  • Six credit hours in sociocultural anthropology coursework. Approved courses include the following 3-credit courses (other anthropology courses are possible, with concentration advisor’s permission, including courses at GW and those offered through the consortium). 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 term paper topic.
    • ANTH 6301 Anthropology of Development
    • ANTH 6391 Anthropology of Security
    • ANTH 6302 Anthropology of Intervention: Development, Human Rights, and Humanitarianism
    • ANTH 6501 Gender and Sexuality
    • ANTH 6504 Social Study of Science and Technology
    • ANTH 6505 Medical Anthropology
    • ANTH 6506 Special Topics in Medical Anthropology
    • ANTH 6591 Special Topics: Displacement and Diaspora
    • ANTH 6707 Anthropology of Citizenship and Displacement: Belonging and Exclusion in the Middle East
    • ANTH 6707 Anthropology of State and Government in the Middle East
    • IAFF 6138 Special Topics: Gender and Development
    • IAFF 6138 Special Topics: Indigenous People
    • ANTH 6330 Internship in Development Anthropology (may be taken with credit towards concentration with the
    • permission of the concentration advisor)
    • ANTH 3503 Psychological Anthropology (may be taken with credit towards concentration with the
    • permission of the concentration advisor)

TOTAL 15 credits:

  • 3 credits cornerstone course (ANTH 6505)
  • 6 credits methods courses
  • 6 credits sociocultural anthropology courses

Beyond the 15 credit hours for the concentration:

Students have ample opportunities to enrich their degree through electives. Depending on the student’s program of studies, electives may constitute 12 or more credits out of the total 36 in the MA degree.

Students seeking a more theoretical program of studies opt to take additional sociocultural anthropology seminars at GW and through the consortium. The consortium includes American University and the University of Maryland, both of which have doctoral programs in anthropology.

Students interested in a more professional degree will find a rich array of course options at GW and in the consortium in fields such as international development, science and technology studies, health policy, human rights and law, environmental health, and more. GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, School of Public Health, and Law School will find ample opportunities for course work that lends professional expertise to their program
of studies.

Students may be interested in using elective credits to take a range of 1-credit “skills” courses offered at GW, for example, as offered by the Elliott School.

Museum Training

The museum training concentration prepares students for the scholarly and curatorial side of museum work. Students complete 12-15 of the required 36 master’s credits through courses offered by the GW Museum Studies Program. Students in this concentration usually complete an internship at a local museum in lieu of a thesis. 

  • 12–15 of the student's 36 hours must derive from museum-related courses offered by the Anthropology Department or Museum Studies Program.
  • Of these 12–15 hours, up to six may come from internship credits; most Museum Training concentrators arrange for one or more internships at local museums.

Eligible Graduate Courses With a Museum Focus

  • ANTH 6200  Museum Anthropology
  • ANTH 6201  Methods in Museum Anthropology
  • ANTH 6202  Museums and the Public: Exhibiting Culture
  • ANTH 6203  Museum Preventive Conservation I
  • ANTH 6204  Museum Preventive Conservation II
  • ANTH 6205  Problems in Conservation
  • ANTH 6230  Internship in Museum Anthropology
  • ANTH 6291  Topics in Museum Anthropology (new course)
  • ANTH 6508  Ethics and Cultural Property