MA Applied Anthropology Requirements

After acceptance into the Applied Anthropology Master's program, the following requirements must be met for eligibility to graduate with the MA degree. These are general requirements across years - for up-to-date requirements for specific incoming (catalog) years, please see the University Catalog under Master’s Degree Requirements and Applied Anthropology MA. Also see the planning form.

Core Course Requirements

  • ANTH 670 (3 units) Core Concepts in Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 671 (3 units) Methods in Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 672 (3 units) Theory in Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 674 (3 units) Project Design & Management
  • ANTH 676 (3) Anthropological Engagements
  • ANTH 682 (3 units) Internship / Field Placement
  • Culminating experience options:
    • ANTH 691 (3 units) Comprehensive Exam (default option)
    • ANTH 690 (6 units) Thesis/Project (requires approval)

See course descriptions in the catalog

 Elective Requirements

  • Students complete at least 12 units of electives if on the comprehensive exam track, or 9 units if on the thesis/project track. 
  • All electives must be advisor-approved as relevant to research/career trajectory.
  • Electives must be graduate level (numbered 500's-600's) or upper division undergraduate level (numbered 300's-400's), within our outside of anthropology, and may be taken at Cal Poly Humboldt or other universities where credits are transferable. A maximum of 4 units may be transferred from another institution.
  • 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.

For elective options, students are encouraged to peruse the catalog, the schedule, and the rotation, and to discuss options with their advisor.

Internship/Field Placement Requirement (ANTH 682)

An exciting part of the MA program is completing your applied anthropological internship. The internship encompasses 135 hours and may take place at one or more advisor-approved locations that provide training relevant to the program, discipline, or related career path. All internship hours must encompass new learning/responsibilities and have a supervisor - independent study shall not count. Relevant field schools may count, but only hours not also associated with units being used to complete the program's elective requirements. Internships may be paid or unpaid and can be related to present or new employment. Students may receive credit for hours completed prior to enrollment in ANTH 682 if those hours took place while enrolled in the MA program and all pertinent requirements (internship paperwork, etc...) were completed prior to and during the internship. Students are encouraged to think outside the box and consider all organizations and positions, not just those that advertise official "internships." For more information, please view the ANTH 682 syllabus.

Culminating Experience Options

Students complete one culminating experience, either a comprehensive exam, a thesis, or a project. All students enter the program on track to complete a comprehensive exam as the culminating experience option. Students wishing to instead complete a thesis or project must meet eligibility requirements and submit a proposal for consideration.

Comprehensive Exam: 

The comprehensive exam consists of three areas: (1) applied anthropology in general, (2) a subfield of interest, and (3) a focus-specific area. Prior to taking the exam, students compile a 75-entry annotated bibliography comprised of 25 entries per area. Students then complete an exam in each area. The exam is typically essay-based but may include practical components. Students are advised to consider their areas (in consultation with their advisor) and to begin to build their annotated bibliographies early in the program. Students become eligible to attempt the examination during the semester in which all required coursework will be completed. A student must have advanced to candidacy before they can take the exam. During the semester of the exam, students are added to an ANTH 691 Canvas course through which the exam and related assignments will be administered. For more information, view the ANTH 691 syllabus.


Eligibility requirements for a thesis/project: (1) Complete at least 15 units of coursework toward the MA degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above. (2) Demonstrate proficiency in research and writing skills by earning a grade of A- or above in ANTH 674. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if the student can otherwise document sufficient preparation to successfully complete a thesis/project. Exceptions must be approved by the advisor, graduate coordinator, and anthropology department chair.

ProposalSubmit a proposal after or near the end of the semester in which eligibility requirements are anticipated to be met - recommended submission is one month prior to the end of the term. Include the following sections in a 2-3 page (single/double spaced) proposal: (a) How you meet the eligibility requirements and justify any requested exceptions; (b) thesis/project introduction; (c) rationale/significance; (d) hypotheses or framing questions/objectives; (e) general methods; (f) general timeline; (g) preparation to successfully complete the thesis/project, including plans to access any needed materials/sites/resources; (h) proposed thesis/project chair and justification. The proposal must be completed solely by the student as a demonstration of preparation for thesis/project work. Submit the proposal as an email copied to both the proposed thesis chair and the anthropology graduate coordinator. Students will typically be notified of the status of their proposal within three work weeks of submission. 

Completing a thesis/projectAfter gaining approval, students will establish a committee chair and preliminary thesis/project plan. Conferring with the chair, the committee is then formed. Students then complete IRB/IACUC applications as applicable. Students complete 6 units of ANTH 690 while completing research and presenting thesis chapters / project sections to chair and then committee. An in-person/online defense and submit approved thesis/project during the final semester in the program. For more information, please view the ANTH 690 syllabus, thesis/project planning, and instructions for completing and submitting a thesis/project.


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, and fieldwork, and/or demonstrating practical skills. Any such requirements will set by the advisor with approval from the graduate coordinator.

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 Fall semester for graduation in the following Spring 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. See requirements for Advancement to Candidacy and Graduation

Changes to degree plans (e.g., coursework, thesis/exam option, committee members, etc...) made after filing for Advancement to Candidacy may be made using the Request for Program Variation or Waiver form. Changes to graduation date require a Graduation Date Change Request form.

Students wishing to walk in the graduation ceremony are advised to keep a close eye on Cal Poly Humboldt Activities & Deadlines – deadlines are very early semester. 

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 Cal Poly Humboldt Institutional Review Board (IRB) for policies and procedures for all projects/research involving human subjects, and the Cal Poly Humboldt 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.

Additional Requirements

  • A maximum of 4 of the required units may be taken from outside Cal Poly Humboldt and counted toward the degree.
  • Oral Defense of Thesis: In-person or online using live video media.
  • All degree requirements must be completed within specified timeframes unless extended by successful petition:
  • 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 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 Cal Poly Humboldt Graduate Studies, or as specified in the University Catalog under Master’s Degree Requirements or Applied Anthropology MA.