This is an archived copy of the 2019-2020 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

Anthropology, MA students learn the history of critical inquiry in the discipline of anthropology and how to approach and develop a topic of research. Students are trained in fieldwork and ethnographic methods appropriate for their goals and are guided through the research and writing methods central to completion of a thesis or project. In the process, students learn about the ethics of conducting research. Students may focus on cultural anthropology or bioarchaeology. The program prepares students for careers in government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, museums, and numerous other fields, or to pursue a doctorate in the field. 


Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Admissions. For specific information, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.


For policies governing all graduate degrees, see Graduate Policies.

Reduction of Credit

Students with previously conferred graduate degrees may request a reduction of credit. Reductions of credit may not exceed six elective credits and no reductions will be given for required core courses. Evaluation of a previously conferred graduate degree for reduction of credit is not automatic and students must request this review in their first semester of matriculation in the master's program.

Satisfactory Progress

According to university policy, students may be terminated if they fail to achieve satisfactory progress toward their degree. Students in the program are judged as having failed to achieve satisfactory progress toward their degree for the following reasons:

  • two consecutive semesters in which academic warnings appear on their transcript
  • failure to successfully complete ANTH 535 Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar IANTH 536 Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar II, and ANTH 650 Methods in Anthropology within 4 semesters of first enrolling as degree-seeking students in the MA in anthropology program
  • failure to enroll in graduate coursework in anthropology for 2 consecutive semesters, unless there are compelling reasons for not having done so

Like all academic policies, these provisions take effect with the publication of this catalog and apply to all graduate students in the MA in anthropology regardless of their catalog year.

Banner Code: LA-MA-ANTH

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Core Courses

ANTH 535Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar I3
ANTH 536Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar II3
ANTH 650Methods in Anthropology3
ANTH 798Thesis or Project Proposal3
Total Credits12


Select 15 credits from advanced courses in anthropology chosen in consultation with an advisor15
Total Credits15

Students can choose to focus their electives around an emphasis in these four areas: advanced training in sociocultural anthropology; culture, health and bioethics; museums and anthropology; or transnational and global issues. Up to six credits may be from other disciplines with the prior written approval of the graduate director.

Students may take ANTH 690 Internship as elective credit. An internship can serve as a primary field research site for the thesis.

Thesis or Research Project

Students should be aware of the policies governing theses. They must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and once enrolled in ANTH 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment. 

Three credits from one of the following:3
Master's Research Project
Master's Thesis
Total Credits3

Anthropology, BA/Anthropology, Accelerated MA


Highly-qualified Mason anthropology majors may apply to the accelerated master's degree program. If accepted, students will be able to earn both a BA and a MA in anthropology after satisfactory completion of 144 credits, sometimes within 5 years. Students with both a BA and MA have a competitive advantage when applying to PhD programs in anthropology. See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to the accelerated MA in anthropology, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Accelerated Option Requirements

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students complete two graduate courses (chosen from ANTH 535 Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar IANTH 536 Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar II, and ANTH 650 Methods in Anthropology) as indicated on their Accelerated Master's Program Application with a minimum grade of B in each course. Once admitted to the accelerated master's pathway, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 in all course work. On completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, they submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form and are admitted to graduate status.

As graduate students, accelerated master's students have an advanced standing. They must meet all master's degree requirements except for the two courses (6 credits) they completed as undergraduates. Students must begin their master's program the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Students may take up to 6 additional graduate credits as reserve graduate credit (chosen from ANTH 635 Regional EthnographyANTH 650 Methods in Anthropology, or ANTH 699 Contemporary Issues in Sociocultural Anthropology). These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree. To apply these credits to the master's degree, students should use the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form.

The ability to take courses, including ones not listed above, for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with the permission of the department.  Permission is normally granted only to qualified Mason seniors within 15 hours of graduation. See AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.