Medical Anthropology

The school primarily trains Ph.D. students in the medical anthropology concentration, but students not already having a MA/MS/MPH first register for an MA as a prerequisite for entry into the Ph.D. program. The MA is seen as a step in the Ph.D. process as well as a screener for those who are not sure if they wish to pursue this course of study or go into the health sciences, law, etc. On average, between two and four students are admitted to the concentration per year. 

Students who intend to concentrate in medical anthropology should register for ANTH 536a (Anthropology of the Body, Health, and Illness) and develop a plan of study approved by their committee. 

Plans of study will differ in accord with students' background and research interests as well as their subfield area of focus. Students focusing on sociocultural, biocultural, and linguistic anthropology may follow a program of courses in medical anthropology in fulfillment of the minor in anthropology for the Ph.D. course and comprehensive exam requirements. Students in other concentration areas such as applied anthropology may opt to split coursework for their minor in anthropology between applied and medical anthropology. To do so, they must take three or more graduate seminars in medical anthropology. 

The following faculty members are core faculty members in the medical anthropology concentration: Linda Green, Rhonda Gillett Netting, Mark Nichter, Mimi Nichter, Ivy Pike, and Susan Shaw. Mark Nichter coordinates the concentration area and questions related to course requirements. 

The following additional faculty members/adjunct faculty have served on recent medical anthropology related MA and Ph.D. committees: Ana Alonso, Mamadou Baro, Ann Betteridge, Laura Briggs, Norma Mendoza-Denton, Jim Greenberg, Jane Hill, Jennie Joe, Steve Lansing, Tad Park, Cheryl Ritenbaugh, and Ann Wright.

Recommended courses for sociocultural students following coursework in medical anthropology for the minor at the Ph.D. level 

At least five of the following courses (15 hours) 

  • *536a Anthropology of the body, health, and illness
  • *536b Ethnomedicine 
  • *571a-b Medical anthropology in clinical and community contexts in the west
  • 675a Anthropology and International/Global Health
  • 675b continued
  • Anthropology and adolescent health
  • Gender and Health
  • Special seminars or reading courses in medical anthropology

*May count for major credits if more than 15 credits are taken in the medical anthropology concentration.

At least five cultural anthropology courses beyond the two semester culture core. The following course/topical areas have been commonly recommended to sociocultural students interested in medical anthropology by their committees. The listings reflect subject areas and not necessarily exact titles of seminars which change year to year.

  • Anthropology and public policy
  • Anthropology and development
  • Applied anthropology
  • Anthropology and globalization
  • Anthropology of religion
  • Anthropology of social movements
  • Colonialism, imperialism, and globalization (under different titles)
  • Culture and power: ecological anthropology
  • Political ecology: economic anthropology
  • Ethnicity and race
  • Gender, class and ethnicity
  • Gender related special seminar
  • History, anthropology, and social memory
  • Political economy (under different titles—in anthropology or related social science field]
  • Psychological anthropology
  • Structural and political violence
  • Human rights
  • Writing culture

Additional courses that have been strongly recommended by committees

  • At least one linguistic anthropology class: Language and culture, Language and gender, Discourse analysis, Narrative analysis
  • Human adaptation and/or a relevant biocultural seminar (for biocultural students, coursework fit to needs of academic program of study tailored by committee)
  • Epidemiology or biostatistics: one of these classes to meet School statistics requirement
  • Methods/data management course: in the school or another department
  • Grant writing/professional skills
  • Ethnographic area course/special reading course: in the school or another department

Medical anthropology postgraduate certificate
A graduate certificate in medical anthropology for motivated health science professionals, developing world social scientists, and social scientists in the USA who have been trained by departments that do not offer specialized training in medical anthropology is offered by the school. Requirements include 12 hours of coursework directly related to medical anthropology and a three credit research project resulting in a publishable paper or defendable grant proposal.

MD/PH.D. and MPH/PH.D. joint degrees
Details about seeking joint degrees should be sought from the medical anthropology concentration coordinator and require that candidates apply separately to each school or department. Students may attempt to secure both degrees simultaneously or sequentially (which generally makes more sense).