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MA Degree Program

The Anthropology faculty in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies offers a Master of Arts degree, with a focus on cultural anthropology.

The program is a thesis-driven combination of advanced coursework and original research which is designed for a variety of different students, including those who will use this graduate program to deepen their knowledge and develop their skills in order to pursue a Ph.D. degree, those who plan to teach Anthropology at the junior or community college level, or those who intend to pursue careers as professionals practicing anthropology or applying their knowledge of anthropological methods and perspectives in various areas of public life.

Major sub-disciplinary areas of study in the program include: cultural anthropology/ comparative cultural studies; social theory; medical anthropology; political economy, development, and economic anthropology; digital humanities; public anthropology; environmental anthropology; urban anthropology; and linguistic anthropology. Topics of research specialization include: race and racism, gender and feminist theory, sexuality, queer theory, migration and citizenship, food, agriculture, health, urban space, and labor.

Geographical regions of research expertise among program faculty include: Africa, the Caribbean, , Europe, Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the United States.

For a fuller sense of the range of specialized expertise in the program, explore the individual biographical information of the Anthropology faculty.

The MA requires the completion of 30 semester hours of graduate-level course work with a cumulative standing of 3.0/(B) or better, plus 6 hours of thesis writing (making a total of 36 semester hours earned), and the satisfactory completion of a Comprehensive Examination (consisting of a written prospectus for original research and an oral defense of that prospectus), and a Master’s thesis.

The Comprehensive Exam is not a test examining the student’s general knowledge.  Instead, what is called the Comprehensive Exam consists of the submission of a written prospectus for the student’s specific thesis topic, elaborating the proposed research project, followed by an oral defense of that document to the student’s examining committee members. The prospectus is expected to: introduce the topic for research; explain how it relates to wider theoretical questions arising from a review of the relevant scholarship and academic research literatures; contextualize the topic in relation to its ethnographic and/or historical background; propose specific questions to be investigated in the research; elaborate the research methods of the project and how they are intended to answer the project’s research questions; and outline how the proposed study is expected to contribute to the development of new or deeper knowledge of the topic. During the oral exam, the faculty examining committee evaluates the written prospectus and the student’s oral presentation of the project, and the degree to which the prospectus demonstrates sufficient knowledge of the thesis topic.  The examining committee also assess the extent to which the prospectus comprehensively integrates an understanding of pertinent aspects of the program’s three required courses (concerning theory, research methodology, and data analysis) as well as any other relevant coursework.

The required sequence of 3 courses for the first year of graduate study are:

  • ANTH 6300:  Foundations of Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH 6310:  Research Methods in Anthropology - MAY BE REPEATED FOR CREDIT 
  • ANTH 6315: – Ethnographic Analysis (in lieu of modifications to the MA Anth requirements submitted and in review process to be finalized)

Other courses that a student takes prior to the thesis prospectus defense will depend on the subject of the thesis, to be determined in consultation with the thesis chair.

The 30 hours of course work may include 6 graduate-level hours outside the department, if deemed pertinent by the student’s thesis committee chair. 



Anthropology Resources