MA in Sociocultural Anthropology

Program Requirements

The program consists of 30 points of graduate coursework and a thesis project. Of the 30 points, 18 points must be Department of Anthropology courses. The remaining 12 points may be taken in other relevant departments. Fieldwork is not required for the thesis project but many students elect to undertake it as part of their MA thesis.  MA students must complete a total of two residence units (equivalent to two semesters of full-time enrollment).   

Program planning, including program timeframe and course selection, is made in consultation with the MA Program Director, who is the advisor to all MA students. In addition, all incoming students are assigned a senior faculty mentor from the department. 

A sample program is listed below.

Two-semester sequence of anthropological theory:

  • ANTH GR5201 Principles and Applications of Society and Culture. 3 points.
  • ANTH GR6116 Social Theory and Contempt Questions. 3 points.

Both of these courses may be waived by the program director for those students coming in with a strong background in anthropology.

One semester of a thesis development course:

  • ANTH GR6212 Seminar: Principles and Applications of Social and Cultural Anthropology. 3 points.

The thesis is an original piece of writing on a topic of the student’s choice. Although it is not required, fieldwork may be completed. The thesis does not have a required length, but is generally about seventy pages long.

Students work with the MA director to set up timetables for thesis completion and approval. The topic is typically chosen after consultation with the student’s advisor, mentor, and/or other faculty member with whom the student has discussed the project. Two faculty members—the MA Director or the MA Post-doctoral Scholar, as well as a faculty member chosen in consultation with the MA Director—read each thesis. Students may have a faculty reader from outside the department if the MA Director approves. Though the thesis does not receive a letter grade, it must be approved by both readers. 

Length of Program

The degree can be undertaken on a full-time basis through two semesters of enrollment in coursework (two residence units) and a summer for thesis research/writing. Many students choose to spread out their studies over more than two semesters, with tuition divided accordingly. For maximum flexibility, the degree can be completed in up to four years. Degree conferral dates are in October, February and May.


Admission standards and selection procedures are identical to those followed by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and require a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample (ten to fifteen pages), three letters of recommendation from academic and/or professional sources, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. A limited number of merit-based scholarships are available and awarded on a rolling basis.  
We admit students for the fall semester only, and all applications must be submitted by the application deadline. Please see the GSAS MA Programs page for more information.