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: Problems in World Prehistory), and

  • one advanced anthropology seminar.

In addition to the core courses, students must take at least 3 semester hours of statistics in the social sciences or must 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 2-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 written and oral components. A passing qualifying examination demonstrates competency in the literature of an anthropological subfield or intradisciplinary area 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 “Fail”, “Pass” or “Pass with distinction.” 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 or non-thesis research project, all students are required to make a formal presentation of findings and discussion of the Master’s research process. This presentation functions as the public portion of the thesis or research project defense, and is followed by a closed-door final examination meeting of the student and committee.

A first complete draft of the thesis should be in the hands of the major professor at least six weeks before the end of the session in which conferral of the degree is expected. For students on the non-thesis track, a first complete draft of the written project is due to the entire committee at least four weeks before the end of the session in which conferral of the degree is expected.

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 final project must be deposited with the major professor, one to each committee member, and one to the Anthropology secretary.

Students wishing to continue to the PhD will need to complete and submit a request to continue to the PhD program to the Anthropology graduate secretary, and meet the requirements listed.

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

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


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