Master’s Program

two students digging at a siteOverview

The Department of Anthropology has offered an award-winning master’s degree program since the early 1950s. This is a research degree offered in all four fields of anthropology.

With strong training in research methods, application, and theory, our MA program is appropriate both for students intending to continue on to the PhD, and for those who will enter careers that require only the master’s. For this reason, we do not consider our program a “terminal master’s degree.” Roughly half of the students admitted into our PhD program each year are graduates of our own MA program.


A four-field approach is taken in the MA program, embracing archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology. Each student must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours. All students are required to complete satisfactorily a core curriculum composed of one graduate course in at least three of the four fields of anthropology:

  • ANT 501 (Anthropological Linguistics)
  • ANT 625 (Survey of the History of Archaeology)
  • ANT 636 (Social Structure) or ANT 641 (Culture)
  • ANT 670 (Principles of Physical Anthropology)

Additionally, a seminar in research methodology (ANT 600) is required.

These four core courses should be taken during the student’s first year in residence. Remaining credit hours are based on coursework in the student’s area of interest, and thesis hours for students taking the thesis option (see below).

Degree Options

There are then two options for completing the degree. The student must satisfy the requirements for one of the following two plans of study. Choice of the plan of study must be made by the student in consultation with the M.A. Committee and the faculty advisor.

(1) Thesis Option: Requirements for this option include: thirty (30) hours of non-thesis course work, plus a master’s thesis to be completed in conjunction with registration for six (6) hours of ANT599 Thesis Research. This option is counted as Plan 1 in the degree requirements of the Graduate School (see Graduate Catalog). A student electing this plan of study will be required to conceive and execute a research project under the direction of his or her M.A. committee.

(2) Non-thesis Option by Examination: Requirements for this option include: thirty-six (36) hours of non-thesis course work and successful completion of an 8-10 page essay by April 1 of the second semester.

Additional information and requirements for these two options are available in the Graduate Manual that is updated annually.


We fund a high proportion of our first- and second-year MA students on graduate teaching assistantships. There also are university fellowships available to MA students. Contact Dr. Elliot Blair, the Director of Graduate Studies, for further information.