MA Applied Anthropology Application Process

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Deadlines for Fall 2025 admission/start:

  • Applications for Fall typically open the previous October (about a year ahead)
  • PRIORITY DEADLINE, February 1, 2025. Applications completed, with all materials received by February 1, will be given priority consideration for admission to the program starting that Fall. ***Typically, no more than about half of available spots will be offered to individuals that apply by the priority deadline - the remaining spots will stay open for consideration of all individuals that apply by the final deadline (please see Step 6 below).
  • FINAL DEADLINE, April 1, 2025: Applications completed, with all materials received by April 1, will be considered. Earlier application is recommended so that you have time to submit all accompanying documents such as transcripts and letters of recommendation. If you plan to apply (or submit any last materials) close to the application deadline, it is advisable to email the graduate coordinator so that we will be expecting your materials. Applicants wishing to apply after the final deadline may contact the graduate coordinator to inquire if application is possible. 

Application to the Master of Arts in Applied Anthropology is a multi-step process.

Step 1: Confirm Eligibility to Apply

The program is applicable to students with a variety of interests and background experiences. Students are encouraged to contact the graduate coordinator and Anthropology faculty to discuss their interests prior to applying to the program.

The following prerequisites have been set for eligibility to apply:

  • Eligibility for Cal Poly Humboldt Graduate Admissions as described in the catalog.
  • Bachelor’s degree completed prior to beginning the program. Bachelor’s or minor in Anthropology or Archaeology, or coursework/experience that demonstrates familiarity with the discipline and sufficient preparation to pursue the intended area of study in the MA program.
  • GPA: Minimum 2.5 required by Cal Poly Humboldt. In addition, this program requires a minimum 3.0 either overall, in undergraduate major, or in last 60 attempted units of bachelor’s degree. Exceptions may be possible on a case-by-case basis if an applicant can demonstrate potential for maintaining the minimum 3.0 GPA required for graduate students, for example through excellent performance in postgraduate coursework.
  • GRE scores are not required, but applicants may submit them if they desire.
  • Relevant field/research/applied experience in focus area preferred but not required.

Step 2: Apply for Graduate Admissions to Cal Poly Humboldt through Cal State Apply

Complete the California State University Graduate Application online at Cal State Apply, as detailed on the graduate admissions website. Please note the following:

  • On the Cal State Apply Graduate Application main page, apply to start in a Fall semester. We do not current accept applications for a Spring start.
  • An application fee is required at time of application.
  • As part of the application process on Cal State Apply, be prepared to submit the following:
    • Information for letters of recommendation. You will be asked to provide contact information for two or three persons who can evaluate your ability and potential for graduate education. At least two should be faculty at the institution where your bachelor's or other advanced degree was received. When you submit your application in Cal State Apply, the letter writers that you identified will receive an email with a link to electronically submit their letter of recommendation through Cal State Apply. Be sure to follow up with your letter writers to ensure that they received the link - if they did not, they can email the letter to . Electronic submission of letters is strongly preferred, but letter writers may submit letters by paper mail if necessary (see address below also for transcripts). Please contact Graduate Studies with questions regarding the submission of letters of recommendation, and the Anthropology Department with questions regarding the suitability of your letter writers.
    • Statement of purpose. (2 page maximum, single-to-double spaced) discussing all of the following:
      • Preparation and rationale for pursuing graduate study in anthropology in this program.
      • Intended focus during the MA program - subdiscipline(s) of primary interest (archaeology/bioanth/cultural/linguistics) and any specific interests.
      • Most likely culminating experience preference - exam (default) or thesis/project. If applicable, describe potential thesis/project topic interests, generally or specifically.
      • Professional goals during and after completing the MA.
      • Plans to obtain any specific skills needed to complete the intended area of focus in this program and prepare for career goals.
      • Commitment to maintaining professional conduct and abiding by ethical standards in all aspects of and activities related to anthropological research and activities.
      • Commitment to cultivating a diverse and equitable learning community.
    • Curriculum vitae. (make sure it indicates overall and major GPA)
    • Writing sample.  (6 to 12 pages, single-to-double spaced). Your writing sample should demonstrate your ability to think critically, write clearly, and appropriately utilize and reference scholarly work. It does not need to be, but can be, in your intended focus area. One complete paper is preferred, but the writing sample can include more than one paper to reach the minimum page limit or can be truncated to fit within the maximum.
    • Optional: In addition to the above, applicants can choose to submit a sample of relevant work from an alternative medium, such as a website, video presentation, zine, or photo essay. Alternative media should be submitted as a PDF along with an explanation - in the case of a video or a website, please include a URL to the website or the video on a platform such as YouTube. If you have difficulty submitting this material in Cal State Apply, you may email it to the anthropology graduate coordinator.

Step 3: Send Official Copies of all Transcripts to Cal Poly Humboldt

Please provide one official transcript from each college or university you have ever attended. You must include a separate transcript for each institution, even if transfer credits from one institution are included on the transcript for another. These must be official transcripts, either sent electronically by the institution, or paper copies in their original sealed envelopes, mailed directly to Humboldt (address below). Please request your transcripts early so that we receive them by the application deadline, preferably several weeks in advance. Delayed transcripts are the #1 reason for application delays. Note: If you have been an Humboldt degree-seeking student within the past five years, it is possible that you may not need to submit transcripts if you transferred all other coursework to Humboldt previously – please check to confirm. Please contact Graduate Studies with questions regarding the submission of official transcripts.

Electronic copies are often faster. Typically, when requesting transcripts form your former universities, you will be able to search for Cal Poly Humboldt, and the system will input the address correctly. If you are asked to submit an email address, use:

If needed, official paper transcripts must be in their original sealed envelopes and mailed to:

Cal Poly Humboldt
Office of Graduate Admissions
1 Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521

Step 4: Submit GRE Scores (Optional)

If submitting GRE scores (optional), please use the ETS-GRE score sending service. The Anthropology Department address is:

Cal Poly Humboldt
Department of Anthropology
1 Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521

 Step 5: After you Apply

  1. Once you submit your Cal State Apply application, you should receive a letter that acknowledges your application and provides instructions on how to log in and see a list of any outstanding application materials you might need. Be sure to submit missing materials asap – materials not received by the application deadline may not be considered. Please contact Graduate Studies if you have questions about this material, or if you do not receive your login information.
  2. Be sure your letter writers submit their letters of recommendation by the deadline. 
  3. Be sure to also apply for financial aid, scholarships, and TA-ships, if desired. Some deadlines come early prior to notification of admissions. See Finances & Awards for more information.

Step 6: Notification of Status

  1. For applications completed by the February 1 priority deadline, admissions decisions will be made by approximately March 1. The priority decision will be either: (a) Admission offered. This may be conditional, for example pending verification of completion of final undergraduate coursework and transcripts. (b) Pending further review - decision will be made by the end of May. (c) Admission declined. ***Typically, no more than about half of available spots will be offered to individuals that apply by the priority deadline - the remaining spots will stay open for consideration of all individuals that apply by the final deadline. Please do not be discouraged if you applied early and your decision is pending further review - we may simply have filled the priority spots.
  2. For applications completed between February 2 – April 1, and priority applications pending futher review, final decisions will be made by approximately May 1.
  3. If you are offered admission, at your earliest convenience, please email the graduate coordinator to let us know if you plan to attend.
  4. If you are offered admission and all application materials are received, you will receive a letter with an official offer of admission as well as information on how to complete other pre-term requirements. Around this time you will also be able to log in and officially accept admissions.
  5. If you accept admission, be sure to register for classes promptly after completing all pre-term requirements. Please see the timelines page and consult the graduate coordinator and department chair for help selecting classes.
  6. Incoming students will be assigned an initial academic advisor by the beginning of the first semester. Advisors will be chosen based on your areas of interest and faculty availability and may change during the program. Until your advisor is assigned, the graduate coordinator and department chair will serve as advisors.
  7. If you were not offered admission, please know that this is not necessarily a reelection of the quality of your application or experience. We receive many more applications than there are spots in the program. Please contact the graduate coordinator if you have questions or concerns about admissions decisions.

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Contact Us

Gordon Ulmer, Ph.D. (questions specific to this program and department)
Anthropology Graduate Coordinator

Graduate Admissions (general application/admissions questions)
Phone: 707.826.6250

Humboldt Graduate Studies (general graduate student questions)
Phone: 707.826.3949