Synthetic Concentration

 The School has formulated a number of Synthetic Concentrations that crosscut anthropology subfields.


At the Ph.D level, coursework taken in the concentrations may be part of the major in Anthropology, or the may be used as the basis of the minor in Anthropology.

Each concentration is open to students focusing on any subfield of Anthropology.

Students are encouraged to adopt a synthetic concentration if it fits their interests; participation in concentrations is not required.


Applied Anthropology
Ecological & Environmental Anthropology
History & Memory
Medical Anthropology
Southwest Land, Culture & Society


The School of Anthropology offers training in applied anthropology through coursework and guided research opportunities in the Arizona State Museum (ASM) and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA).

Students participating in this concentration are given broad training in both academic and applied anthropology. Courses relevant to applied anthropology are taught by faculty members with research interests in problem-solving and policy making.


The UA School of Anthropology has historically been a leader in ecological and environmental anthropology, and many members of the current faculty have research interests in this area.

The Ecological & Environmental Anthropology synthetic concentration forges strong links between anthropology and other disciplines that are concerned with human impacts on the environment, sustainability, conservation, and evolutionary ecology.

Students may choose from a wide range of potentially appropriate courses in consultation with faculty members. A core course, ANTH 611, is required


There is a consensus today that ethnography must be situated in its historical contexts, and a growing appreciation of anthropological histories of past societies. Historical archaeologists have expanded the purview of archaeology to include the study of historical sources as well as material culture.

Sociocultural anthropologists now conduct archival research and explore oral traditions in addition to conducting fieldwork, while historians now apply the insights of ethnography and archaeology to their studies of the past.

Understanding how social memory mediates history making is a vital part of these endeavors.

The Anthropology, History, and Memory concentration fosters cross-fertilization among anthropological subfields and other disciplines that take historical perspectives on social life, allowing flexibility in curriculum development while training students in essential method and theory.



A rigorous Ph.D. concentration in medical anthropology is available to students at the University of Arizona.

Students are encouraged to contextualize medical anthropology in terms of more broadly conceived anthropological theories and issues related to: health, development and structural inequality; political economy and political ecology; ethnic, class and gender relations; social formations ranging from the household and kinship networks to the 'community", NGOs, professional organizations, international funding agencies, and the state; national as well as global response to disease transmission and health care provision; ideologies experienced and reproduced at the site of the body as well as propagated by medical systems and public health practices; governance projects, the politics of responsibility, and self management projects; and changes in consumer behavior and perceptions of risk and harm reduction.

For a fuller description of the concentration area at the University of Arizona, its resources, network of current and past graduate students, course offerings and syllabi:

The department primarily trains Ph.D. students in the medical anthropology concentration, but students not already having a MA/MS/MPH first register for a 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 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 a year.

Students intending 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 student's 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, 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, Victor Braitberg,  Norma Mendoza-Denton, Jim Greenberg, Jennie Joe, Steve Lansing, Tad Park, Cheryl Ritenbaugh, Jennifer Roth-Gordon, and Ann Wright.


Recommended courses for sociocultural students doing concentrations in medical anthropology 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
  • 538A Women's Health in Global Perspective
  • Women's Health in the U.S.
  • 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 which 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 department statistics requirement
  • Methods/data management course : in this department or another department
  • Grant writing/professional skills
  • Ethnographic area course / special reading course : in this department 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 department. 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.

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. Candidates interested in obtaining Ph.D.s in medical anthropology as well as an MD or MPH must apply separately to each program. Students may attempt to secure both degrees simultaneously or sequentially (which generally makes more sense).

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 department. Students may attempt to secure both degrees simultaneously or sequentially (which generally makes more sense).

Visit the Medical Anthropology homepage at:



Students who choose to concentrate in this area for their minor in Anthropology are expected to take a broad, interdisciplinary approach to the American Southwest that integrates studies of land and society.

The Southwest Land, Culture, and Society Program is intended to serve as a formalized node, interconnecting faculty and students within the university, while strengthening their linkages to external communities.

The program provides a visible point of contact for constituencies outside the university seeking expertise and outreach in anthropologically-oriented Southwestern issues.

Faculty meet these needs partly by involving students in regional research and sponsoring involvement through internships.

For more information, please visit the Southwest Land, Culture, and Society Program at: