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Overview of the School of Anthropology’s Graduate Programs

The University of Arizona School of Anthropology offers opportunities for concentrated graduate study in all principal subdisciplines of anthropology: archaeology, biological, linguistic, and sociocultural anthropology. The School supports graduate study in subspecialties within these subdisciplines with special strength in the applied aspects of these foci. Study for an advanced degree consists of a combination of coursework, independent study, and mentored research. Graduate students are expected to display considerable initiative in planning a satisfactory program of study in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and appropriate members of the faculty.

Graduate Handbooks

Degree Programs Overview

Anthropology graduate students must demonstrate a broad factual and theoretical background in the principal subfields of anthropology, an authoritative knowledge of a special field of research, a thorough grasp of research methods, and refined critical judgment. In Anthropology, the Master’s and doctoral degrees are synergistically related with respect to collectively describing a common trajectory of post-baccalaureate training that emphasizes increasing independence of thought and action within the context of directed training in the classroom, laboratory, and the field. Our graduate curriculum has been developed (and is continually revised and updated) with an eye toward providing students balanced, in-depth exposure to the full range of anthropological inquiry. As such, our learning strategies at the graduate level focus on creating competent, independent thinkers capable of advancing knowledge within the context of approaches that combine the best of traditional classroom and laboratory instruction with the deployment of cutting-edge pedagogical technologies and learning strategies including internships and practica.

Master's Degree Program

The School of Anthropology’s Master of Arts program offers two tracks: one Master’s track is configured as a gateway to the School’s doctoral program, and a second is a specialized Master’s degree in applied archaeology that is offered as a stand-alone degree.

These M.A. degrees require a thesis or paper that reports substantive and original research. The M.A. paper or thesis is written with the guidance of a committee of three members of the faculty. The final examination for the Master’s degree is an oral examination, administered by the faculty committee. The oral examination is individually scheduled in the candidate’s last semester of study for the degree. It is based on the required and elected coursework and the M.A. project or thesis. There is no foreign language or statistics requirement for the Master’s degrees in Anthropology.

Master of Arts (Ph.D. Track)

Students in the M.A. to Ph.D. track are admitted with the expectation that they will complete both degrees in the School. However, all students who complete the requirements for the M.A. degree and wish to go on to the Ph.D. program must request a “Change in their Degree Program” status that is brought to the full faculty of the School for final vote.

The minimum unit requirement for the MA is 33 (three of these required units are MA thesis or report hours). In addition to the requirements in the major focus (see the Graduate Handbook for details), all students are required to take the core class, Anthropology 608B+, “History of Anthropological Theory.” In addition to the above requirements, M.A. students must enroll for at least three units of Anthropology 909 (Master’s Report) or Anthropology 910 (Master’s Thesis), in consultation with their major advisor. Other courses for the MA degree should also be chosen in consultation with the major advisor. For a full description of this M.A. program, please see the Ph.D. Track Graduate Handbook.

Master of Arts in Applied Archaeology (Stand Alone)

The School of Anthropology’s Master’s Degree track in Applied Archaeology takes advantage of our strengths in North American archaeology and indigenous archaeology. Applied archaeology is an emerging field of study within Anthropology that creates and uses knowledge in the context of application. The M.A. in Applied Archaeology at the University of Arizona is a rigorous two year academic program designed to teach the subject matter and professional skills needed for a successful career working for businesses, governmental agencies, tribes, and non-profit organizations that employ applied archaeologists. The curriculum includes classroom instruction in anthropological method and theory, laboratory training in specialized analytical techniques, coursework to establish expertise in an archaeological region, and an internship to develop professional skills. The University of Arizona is situated in one of the densest concentrations of applied archaeologists in the country and our program integrates professionals working in the private, public, and non-profit sectors of archaeology. The Master’s degree in Applied Archaeology requires 33 units, three of which are derived from a M.A. thesis or report. View the handbook for the Master's program in Applied Archaeology here.

Ph.D. Program

Ph.D.-track M.A. students must request a “Change in Degree Program” to continue on to the Ph.D program. Doctoral candidates in Anthropology must show a broad factual and theoretical background in the fields of anthropology, an authoritative knowledge of a special field of research, a thorough grasp of research methods, and good critical judgment.  Doctoral students are advised by a major advisor and other faculty members representing the student's major and minor foci of study.

Concentrations for Ph.D. minor in Anthropology are available in Applied Anthropology; Ecological Anthropology; Medical Anthropology; Anthropology, History and Social Memory and Southwest Land, Culture and Society; and any of the four traditional subfields of Anthropology.

An important consideration in admitting students to the Ph.D. program is that a member of the Core Faculty must be willing to serve as a student's primary advisor and to direct the applicant's supervising committee. Affliated and adjunct faculty may serve on the student's committee, but they may not serve as committee head. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to contact one or more members of the Core Faculty before applying to the Ph.D. Program.    

The dissertation requires the equivalent of at least 48 units of class credit, including 36 units in the major and 12 to 15 units in the minor. This equates with a minimum of two semesters of full-time work after completion of the MA, assuming 30 units are transferred from the MA. In addition, at least 18 units of ANTH 920 (dissertation units) are required. With the prior approval of the student's dissertation committee and the Head of the School, dissertation work may be done in absentia. In addition to the unit requirements, there are foreign language, statistics, and written and oral comprehensive examiniation requirements for hte doctorate. For complete information please see the Ph.D. Track Graduate Handbook.

In addition to our traditional Ph.D. program, the School of Anthropology is also pleased to offer dual Ph.D. and joint Ph.D. programs with Near Eastern Studies, and the Department of Linguistics. See below for more information about these opportunities.

Dual Ph.D. Program in Anthropology-Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS)

The Dual Ph.D. Program in Anthropology-Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS) at the University of Arizona is the first program in the United States to provide a formal institutional setting for simultaneous doctoral training and professional certification in these two disciplines. The program builds on the long traditions of excellence and interdisciplinary dialogue that have characterized both departments for decades. It involves faculty from both departments as well as affiliated professors in other departments on campus who share a vision of interdisciplinary research focusing on Sociocultural or Linguistic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona. This program builds upon the complementarity and affinity of the two fields, and the University of Arizona’s nationally recognized strengths in both, to train and certify uniquely qualified scholars for a rapidly globalizing world in which complex inter-dependencies are redefining relations between the West and the Middle East. From Anthropology, students gain a conceptual and analytical apparatus for studying the complexity and diversity of cultures. They also receive training in the theory and method of ethnographic fieldwork and comparative research. From Near Eastern Studies, students receive rigorous language training available in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish, and scholarly expertise in histories, literatures, religions, and the material and popular culture of Middle Eastern societies. This opportunity to combine comparative and theoretical breadth with linguistic and textual depth, and to develop research methods under the supervision of the core faculty, attracts the best students in both fields to the program. The NES-Anthropology dual Ph.D. degree requires 105 total academic units. For more information on the Dual Anthropology-MENAS program please click here.

Anthropology and Linguistics (ANLI) Joint PhD Program

The Anthropology and Linguistics (ANLI) Joint Ph.D. program makes it possible for students to pursue the study of language and linguistic theory drawing on the resources of both the Linguistics Department and the linguistic anthropology program within the School of Anthropology without having to satisfy all of the requirements of two separate Ph.D. programs. Both units have extremely strong national reputations for their contributions to the study of language, and each has specialized in mutually compatible ways in the kinds of linguistic theory and analysis it offers students. The Linguistics Department has given priority to formal models of language structure, including the study of Southwestern Native American languages and cultures and historical linguistics. Linguistic anthropology, as one of the four subdisciplines of anthropology, has concentrated on developing the study of language in its social context, particularly in sociolinguistics, including strong links with cultural anthropology. Scholars from both departments have also carried out research on numerous languages. A total of 64 credits is required for completion of the degree.

Anthropology Ph.D. Minor Concentrations

Concentrations for a Ph.D. minor in Anthropology are available in Applied Anthropology; Ecological Anthropology; Medical Anthropology; Anthropology, History and Social Memory; Archaeology of the Mediterranean World; and Southwest Land, Culture and Society; as well as any of the four principal traditional subfields of Anthropology. Please see the Graduate Handbook for more information.

Graduate Certificate in Medical Anthropology

The School of Anthropology offers a graduate certificate in medical anthropology for motivated health science professionals, scholars from the developing world, and social scientists in the U.S.A. who have been trained at institutions that do not offer specialized training in medical anthropology. Requirements include 9 hours of coursework directly related to medical anthropology and a three-credit research project resulting in a publishable paper or submittable grant proposal.

Graduate Funding

We expect our graduate students to participate in Graduate Research Assistantships and/or Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA) frequently during their academic careers at Arizona. For more information on funding opportunities in the School of Anthropology, click here.