Master of Arts in Anthropology 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 program 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 586Quantitative Methods in Anthropology3
or ANTH 650 Methods in Anthropology
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, 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 undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's program and obtain a BA in Anthropology and a MA in Anthropology in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 138 credits. 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 for policies related to this program.

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.

BAM Pathway Admission 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 Policies and Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies. For information specific to the accelerated MA in Anthropology, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Students will be considered for admission into the BAM Pathway after completion of a minimum of 60 credits and additional unit-specific criteria.

Students who are accepted into the BAM Pathway will be allowed to register for graduate level courses after successful completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credits.

Accelerated Master's Admission Requirements

Students already admitted in the BAM pathway will be admitted to the MA Anthropology, if they have met the following criteria, as verified on the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form:

  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.25

  • Completion of ANTH 490 History of Anthropological Theory

  • Minimum grade of B in each advanced standing course

  • Successfully meeting Mason's requirements for undergraduate degree conferral (graduation) and completing the application for graduation.

Accelerated Pathway Requirements

To maintain the integrity and quality of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, undergraduate students interested in taking graduate courses must choose from the following:

Advanced Standing courses (up to 12 credits with a minimum grade of B in each)

ANTH 531Refugees in the Contemporary World3
ANTH 535Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar I3
ANTH 536Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar II3
ANTH 555Policy and Culture3
ANTH 556Human Growth and Development3
ANTH 557Human Origins3
ANTH 570Andean Archaeology3
ANTH 577Mortuary Archaeology3
ANTH 580Environmental Anthropology3
ANTH 582Human Osteology3
ANTH 583Human Osteology Lab1
ANTH 584Paleopathology3
ANTH 585Bioarchaeology3
ANTH 586Quantitative Methods in Anthropology3
ANTH 587Zooarchaeology4
ANTH 590Forensic Anthropology3
ANTH 591Forensic Anthropology Lab2
ANTH 599Contemporary Issues in Anthropology3
ANTH 616Anthropology of the City3
ANTH 635Regional Ethnography3
ANTH 640Applied Anthropology3
ANTH 650Methods in Anthropology3
ANTH 684Independent Study in Sociocultural Anthropology1-6
ANTH 687Medical Anthropology3

Reserve Graduate Credit courses (up to 6 credits) taken while an undergraduate and will only count for the graduate degree program

All courses listed as advanced standing credit can be used for reserve graduate  credit.

For more detailed information on coursework and timeline requirements see AP.6.7 Bachelor's Accelerated Master's Degree policies.

Program Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to synthesize appropriate anthropological theory in the analysis of a research question or problem.
  2. Students will develop an original research question or problem that is situated within the appropriate theoretical paradigm. 
  3. Students will demonstrate familiarity with appropriate methods for anthropological data collection and analysis and apply them to an original research question or problem. 
  4. Students will summarize theoretical and ethical debates related to their area of study in anthropology and synthesize their own work within the context of those debates.

  5. Students will effectively communicate the results and interpretations of their research in writing, in a manner appropriate to a professional audience.