MA Applied Anthropology Program Requirements

After acceptance into the MA in Applied Anthropology program, the following requirements must be met for eligibility to graduate with the MA degree:

MA Core Course Requirements

26 units, required – 5 units at the Summer Institute, then remaining core courses online while enrolled in the program:

  • ANTH 670 (2 units) Intro to Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 671 (3 units) Methods in Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 672 (3 units) Theory in Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 673 (3 units) Anthropology Careers & Management Strategy
  • ANTH 674 (3 units) Research Project Design
  • ANTH 678 (3 units) Applied Anth Pro Seminar (1 unit, repeated 3 times)
  • ANTH 682 (3 units) Anthropology Internship / Field Placement (formerly Anth 675)
  • ANTH 690 (6 units) Master’s Degree Thesis/Project, or ANTH 671 (3 units) Comprehensive Exam

See MA Course Descriptions

MA Elective Requirements

  • Students who choose the comprehensive exam option (ANTH 691) are required to complete 12 units of approved elective courses.
  • Students who choose to complete a thesis or project (ANTH 690) are required to complete 9 units of approved elective courses.
  • All electives must be advisor-approved as relevant to emphasis or career trajectory. If emphasis changes, alternate electives may be required, at the discretion of the advisor.
  • Electives must be graduate level or upper division undergraduate level and may be taken at HSU or other universities where credits are transferable. (see MA Course Schedule and the MA section of the Catalog).
  • Courses taken prior to the program may count towards required degree electives if the courses were: (1) graduate level, and (2) not counted toward any other degree, and (3) taken within seven years of completion of the MA degree.

There will typically be one to two broadly applicable electives offered through the MA program each semester. Stuedents are encouraged to peruse the HSU course catalog and consider courses from the non-MA course schedule, and discuss options with advisors if they are interested in an on-campus course but are not on campus.

*Note: For students that began the program Summer 2016 or earlier, if a highly appropriate elective is a rigorous lower division or non-transferable course, the student may fulfill 3 units of the 9 required elective units with 1 unit of ANTH 699 Independent Study, normally taken concurrently with the lower-division/non-transferable course, for which additional assignments will be required.

Internship/Field Placement Requirement (ANTH 682): Students are required to complete 180 hours of advisor-approved field placement (internship) that is focused on gaining hands-on applied experience in the concentration area. The field placement may, but is not required to be, directly related to MA thesis research. Field school(s) may fulfill some but not all internship hours, at the discretion of the advisor, but only if such hours are in excess of any hours for which academic credit (units) are earned and applied to meet the focus elective requirement.

Culminating Experience Options

All students enter the program on track to complete a comprehensive exam. The comprehensive exam consists of three area chosen in consultation with the advisor, writing of annotated bibliographies in these areas, then taking a written and/or practical exam covering the three areas. Students wishing to complete a thesis or project must submit a proposal, receive approval, and meet the requirements below. To be eligible for the thesis or project option a student must have: completed at least 15 units of coursework toward the MA degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above; and demonstrated proficiency in research and writing skills by earning a grade of A- or above in ANTH 674. An exception may be made on a case-by-case basis if the student can otherwise document sufficient preparation to successfully complete a thesis/project. Any such exception must be approved by the advisor, committee, graduate coordinator and anthropology department chair.

In addition to other requirements, students are expected to evince a mastery of subject/skills pertinent to their culminating experience and career trajectories prior to graduation. This may include taking specific elective courses, participating in workshops/ trainings/fieldwork, and/or demonstrating practical skills. Any such requirements will set by the advisor with approval from the graduate coordinator, and will be communicated to the student no later than the end of the first semester in the program or within the semester of any approved change in program focus.

Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation

Students are to apply for Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation early in the semester prior to expected graduation – for example, at the beginning of the Spring semester for graduation in the following Fall semester. You can file for Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation in the semester you intend to graduate, but this may not leave adequate time to plan and meet all other deadlines. Students wishing to walk in the May graduation ceremony are advised to keep a close eye on HSU Activities & Deadlines – deadlines are very early Spring semester for walking in the ceremony.

Requirements to advance to candidacy include: Classified standing (cleared admission deficiencies, if applicable); Completed a minimum of 12 units of coursework for your program; Cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better in all courses taken as a graduate student; Approval of plan to use humans or animals as subjects for research, if applicable (a copy of the IRB/IACUC approval letter must be attached to candidacy paperwork). Be sure to start the IRB/IACUC process early (recommended in the semester prior to application). Please see the Graduate Studies website to confirm requirements.

When applying for Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation, the student names all members of the thesis committee and outlines how program requirements will be fulfilled by the intended graduation date. Changes to the thesis committee or thesis topic made after filing for Advancement to Candidacy may be made using the Request for Program Variation or Waiver form. Changes to graduation date made after filing for Advancement to Candidacy may be made using the Graduation Date Change Request form through the Office of the Registrar.

Code of Ethics

Students are required to maintain professional conduct and abide by ethical standards, in all aspects of and activities related to the program, in anthropological research and activities, and in all situations where they represent the program and discipline. Please contact the HSU Institutional Review Board (IRB) for policies and procedures for all projects/research involving human subjects, and the HSU IACUC for projects/research involving nonhuman animal subjects. Data collected before obtaining IRB/IACUC approval may not be used for the thesis, and may violate ethical guidelines.


Emphasis & Specialization (For students that began Fall 2018 or before)

Students shall select one of the following emphases, in consultation with the advisor, and complete all requirements listed below. The emphasis is internal to the program and will not be noted on transcripts, but it is documented by the program and should be included on the graduate’s resume/CV.

Cultural Anthropology Emphasis

At least one of the following courses as part of the elective requirements:

  • ANTH 610, History of Anthropological Theory, or
  • ANTH 618, Qualitative Methods & Analysis, or
  • ANTH 680, Graduate Seminar (on a concentration-focused topic)

Archaeology Emphasis

At least one of the following courses as part of the elective requirements:

  • ANTH 654, Cultural Resources Management, or
  • ANTH 680, Graduate Seminar (on a concentration-focused topic)

Skills Demonstration: Excavation unit set up, compass and clinometer use, tape and compass mapping, plan and profile mapping of a unit, ability to read topographical maps and point out areas of interest or features, and basic GPS mapping/use.

Biological Anthropology Emphasis

At least one of the following courses as part of the elective requirements:

  • ANTH 637, Applied Biological Anthropology, or
  • ANTH 680, Graduate Seminar (on a concentration-focused topic)

Bioarchaeology/Forensics Emphasis

At least one of the following courses as part of the elective requirements (read more here):

  • ANTH 637, Applied Biological Anthropology, or
  • ANTH 654, Cultural Resources Management, or
  • ANTH 680, Graduate Seminar (on a concentration-focused topic)

Skills Demonstration: Intensive osteology lab practical; mock case study including data collection (in four hours) followed by a case report submitted within one week; use of relevant software such as 3D-ID / FORDISC. Please click here to read more about these requirements.


Additional Requirements

  • A maximum of 4 of the required 35 units may be taken from outside HSU and counted toward the degree (only elective units).
  • Preliminary Exams: Taken at the end of the Summer Institute – must be passed to continue in the program.
  • Oral Defense of Thesis: In-person or via Skype or other live video media.
  • All degree requirements must be completed within specified timeframes unless extended by successful petition:
  • Full-time Program: 5 unit Summer Institute + 10 units per semester for 3 semesters.
  • Part-time Program: 5 unit Summer Institute + 4-6 units per semester for 6 semesters.
  • Each semester students are expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA (B average) to remain in the program. All classes must be passed with a B- or better to count towards the degree. For more information on academic standing requirements, please see the HSU Graduate Studies Handbook
  • Students are also expected to have or gain sufficient knowledge in their emphasis area to complete a quality thesis and become prepared to pursue a career or further graduate research in that area. In some cases, this may require additional advisor-approved/requested elective courses, training, time spent on-campus, access to materials/resources off campus, demonstration of skills mastery to advisor/thesis committee, or other requirements.
  • Prior to graduation, application for advancement to candidacy and graduation must be on file with Graduate Studies.
  • The above requirements are in addition to any other requirements established by the program during courses, communicated by faculty, on this website, and general requirements established by HSU Graduate Studies, or as specified in the Universitty Catalog under Master’s Degree Requirements or Applied Anthropology MA.

Download the MA Planning Worksheet/Contract, Summer 2016 and prior
Download the MA Planning Worksheet/Contract, Summer 2017 and after
HSU Graduate Studies, Current Students
CEEE Calendar of Dates & Deadlines
HSU Maps & Directions

Contact Us

Rebecca Robertson
Applied Anth Graduate Coordinator
Tel. 707-826-4372

Marissa Ramsier
Anthropology Department Chair

Graduate Admissions
Phone: 707.826.6250

HSU Graduate Studies
Phone: 707.826.3949