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Graduate Minors in Anthropology Subfields and Other Disciplines

All PhD students in the School of Anthropology (SoA) are required to have a major and a minor component in their academic program, following the rules of the UA Graduate College (

Five kinds of minors are recognized by the UA Graduate College:

(1) Minor in an anthropology subfield other than the chosen major. The SoA offers training in four subfields of anthropology (Sociocultural, Linguistics, Biological, and Archaeology). Anthropology subfield minors usually require 12 credit units;

(2) Minor in another UA department or instructional unit (e.g. Geosciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Computer Science, Latin American Studies, Art History);

(3) Multidisciplinary minors that combine two distinct disciplines. The multidisciplinary minor is a special case in which 6 units are done in each of two different departments for a total of 12 units. One of these may be in the student’s own department, but more commonly all of the 12 units of coursework are taken outside the major department. Only one faculty member from one of these two units then serves on the comprehensive examination committee;

(4) Minor in a Graduate Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program (GIDPs; e.g., American Indian Studies, Arid Lands). Interested students should consult the list of GIDPs at the University of Arizona, and then go to the individual program to learn their requirements (;

(5) Synthetic minors in anthropology are explicitly interdisciplinary and guided by the student’s PhD advisor and committee. Synthetic minors allow students to build a unique regimen for training that focuses on a particular set of issues. As such, these minors may span multiple anthropology subfields or other disciplines. Synthetic minors can help students build a broader sense of intellectual community within and outside of anthropology. Synthetic minor course requirements vary (see below) and may range from having very specific course requirements (e.g. Medical Anthropology) to those with only one common course requirement around which other courses from within or outside Anthropology are added in consultation with the student’s PhD committee (e.g. Ecological Anthropology). Each synthetic minor is open to students majoring in any subfield. General descriptions of synthetic minors available to SoA PhD students are described in the remainder of this section.

More Information on Synthetic Minors

Synthetic Minor in Applied Anthropology
The profession of anthropology extends far beyond the walls of academic employment. The SoA offers training in applied anthropology through coursework and guided research opportunities in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) and the Arizona State Museum (ASM). Students participating in this minor are given broad training in both academic and applied settings. At present, applied training focuses on sociocultural anthropology and archaeology. While most research experience is gained through BARA, interest in applied training is growing in other anthropological subfields and all students are welcome to participate. A total of 12 units is required for this minor. Courses in applied anthropology are taught by faculty members with research interests in problem-solving and policy-making. A student’s choice of minor courses is made in consultation with their advisor.

Synthetic Minor in Ecological and Environmental Anthropology
The relationships between human societies and their environments are among the oldest concerns in anthropology. As the human footprint on the Earth expands, the topic of human-environment interactions becomes an ever more urgent problem. Anthropology at the University of Arizona has historically been a leader in ecological and environmental anthropology, and many members of the current faculty have research interests in this area. Students participating in this minor are required to complete the core seminar, ANTH 611 Ecological Anthropology. This seminar integrates subfields within anthropology and forges strong links between anthropology and other disciplines concerned with human impacts on the environment, sustainability, conservation, evolutionary ecology, among other issues. This minor also accommodates students interested in a wide variety of evolutionary themes. In consultation with their advisor, each student designs an individualized suite of relevant courses that may straddle multiple UA departments. With a requirement of 12 credit units in total, the student in consultation with their PhD committee must make every effort to create a diverse curriculum, meanwhile avoiding excessive topical replication between their chosen major and minor.

Synthetic Minor in Medical Anthropology
Medical anthropology examines how cultural, historical, economic, and political forces shape ideas about health, wellness, illness, and disease. It studies how these forces influence health disparities, healthcare seeking, health related practices and perceptions of risk, the structure of medical systems, and much more. Medical anthropology employs methods and materials from all anthropological subfields and numerous other scholarly disciplines. The Medical Anthropology minor at UA is a nationally-recognized hub for critical studies of medicine in the US and abroad, including established research on political ecology and global health. Our current faculty have expertise in reproductive technologies, clinical and laboratory ethnography, surgical practice, evolutionary and embodied approaches to health disparities, transgender studies, medical expertise, nutrition, environmental health, and science and technology studies. The concentration requires 12 credit hours of training within medical anthropology.
The University of Arizona also offers MD and MPH degrees from the College of Medicine and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, respectively. Students not enrolled in the SoA may complete a 12-unit course of study to earn a graduate certificate in medical anthropology ( Candidates interested in obtaining these dual degrees must apply separately to each program. Visit the Medical Anthropology homepage for more information (

Synthetic Minor in Southwest Land, Culture and Society
The Southwest Land, Culture, and Society (SWLCS) Program offers a PhD minor for students in anthropology and related disciplines. Students minoring in this program are expected to adopt a broad interdisciplinary approach that conceptually integrates land and societies. The SWLCS minor provides a formalized node that interconnects faculty and students within the university while strengthening their relationships to external communities. Bridging 13,000 years of history in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, the program also provides a visible point of contact for constituencies outside the university seeking expertise and outreach in anthropologically-oriented regional issues. SWLCS faculty involve students in on-going regional research and sponsor direct involvement through internships. The SWLCS minor brings together faculty from the SoA, Arizona State Museum, Arid Lands, Geography and Regional Development, the Laboratory of Tree-ring Research, Latin American Studies, and the Southwest Center. The SWLCS concentration requires 12 units of coursework. For more information, visit