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Master's Degree Requirements*

The graduate program in Anthropology offers three tracks for the MS Degree: MS Thesis, MS Non-Thesis Applied Track, and MS Non-Thesis Doctoral Pre-Proposal Option. All tracks require 36 hours of course credit, normally completed in 4 semesters. Both thesis and non-thesis programs have identical baseline course requirements:

  • one theory course (ANTH 507: History and Theory of Anthropology),

  • two research design and methods courses (for a list of options, see the Graduate Student Manual),

  • two to four subfield core courses (ANTH 505: Culture and Society; ANTH 514: Anthropological Linguistics; ANTH 535: Foundations of Biological Anthropology; ANTH 504: Archaeological Theory), and

  • one 600 level advanced anthropology seminar.

In addition to the core courses, students must complete the statistics requirement (take at least 3 semester hours of statistics in the social sciences or have had an equivalent course at the undergraduate or graduate level). The remaining course credits will be made up of additional core courses as needed, 600-level seminars, individual reading courses, and specialty courses outside the department.

During their second semester, the student will work with their advisors to develop a research topic and then submit a brief two-page research prospectus to their committees and give a brief 15-minute presentation of their MS prospectus draft to the department. The presentations will be an overview of the student’s research questions, research site, and methods.

MS students will need to pass a subfield qualifying examination by the end of their third semester of study in order to complete their degree and confirm their competence in the sub-disciplinary specialization. The exam will include a 10-day written examination and an oral defense. A passing qualifying examination demonstrates competency in the literature of (an) anthropological subfield(s) and the ability to communicate that knowledge effectively. The goal of the qualifying exam is to assess the student’s general sub-disciplinary expertise. The options on the Qualifying Exam will be “Pass”, “Pass with distinction,” or "Fail." A student who passes with distinction will have satisfied one of the requirements for admission to the PhD program.

At the completion of the Master’s thesis, non-thesis research project, or internship, all students are required to make a formal presentation of findings and discussion of the Master’s research process. For MS students in anthropology, a public presentation and a closed-door oral defense of the thesis/project is required.


A complete draft of the thesis, which has already been approved by the major professor, should be in the hands of the committee at least six weeks before the final deposit and at least three weeks prior to the oral examination date. For students on the Non-Thesis track, a complete draft of the written project, which has already been approved by the major professor, is due to the committee at least three weeks before the scheduled oral examination date. Students who do not meet these deadlines will delay their graduation from the program.

A completed and final copy of the MS Thesis must be deposited at the Graduate School according to Graduate School procedures and by the deadline set each semester by the Graduate School. Similarly, a completed and final copy of the MS Thesis or final project must be deposited with the major professor, one to each committee member, and one to the Anthropology Academic Program Manager.

Students wishing to continue to the PhD will need to discuss with their major professor and then complete and submit an application to continue to the PhD program to the Anthropology Academic Program Manager. To demonstrate readiness for PhD-level work, students must:

1)   have made satisfactory progress on courses;
2)   pass the qualifying exam with distinction;
3)   have submitted a draft of the MS thesis/project to their major professor before April 1st;
4)   complete the Master’s thesis/project by the end of fourth semester, or be granted an extension to complete in summer session with the committee's approval;
5)   have completed the Student Application for Continuation MS to PhD Program and have consent of the majority of the Master’s Committee;
6)   have a prospective PhD major professor and additional PhD committee member;
7)   submit a major professor-approved brief one-page description of their proposed PhD research topic;
8)   have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25.

Applied/Practicing Anthropology

African American Studies
Ecological Sciences and Engineering (ESE)
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 


AMAP Interdisciplinary Methods Certificate
Geospatial Information Science Certificate
Inclusive Excellence Graduate Certificate Program

 *Detailed requirements are available in the Anthropology Graduate Student Manual