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Anthropology Graduate Program

Graduate Handbook

The Anthropology Graduate Student Handbook is now available for students. The Handbook covers course requirements, the Thesis and Applied paper processes, second language requirements, and more. Download a copy here.

Graduate Advisers

Graduate students are assigned advisers by the department upon acceptance to the program based on student research interests and faculty availability. However, graduate applicants can indicate faculty members with whom they are interested in working in their Statement of Intent. Applicants with a strong preference for a particular faculty member should contact faculty before applying.

By agreeing to work with a graduate student, the faculty member agrees to make him or herself available for regular meetings, either in person or over phone/email; provide timely notice if meetings must be moved or canceled; advise the student in areas such as appropriate coursework and research foci; provide planning and support for the student to make progress in the program; and serve on the student's thesis committee.

Likewise, by entering the graduate program the student agrees to meet with his or her adviser on a regular basis, either in person or over phone/email; provide timely notice if meetings must be moved or canceled; and make steady progress through the program per a plan agreed upon with his or her adviser.

Teaching Assistantships

The Anthropology Department offers 3-5 Teaching Assistantships per year. These assistantships provide nine hours of tuition reimbursement per quarter (but do not cover fees or books). TAs also receive a monthly stipend. If you are already a graduate student in the program, you can apply via the Graduate assistantship application form. New applicants can fill out the TA application as part of the online departmental application.

Degree Requirements

Students have the option of choosing either the thesis track or the applied track. The applied track is designed to prepare students for professional employment related to applied anthropology. Students in this track will complete an internship and internship paper, and 8 additional hours of coursework, in addition to an applied thesis. The thesis track candidate is required to do research in an area of special interest and prepare a thesis based upon it. In both cases a student can bring in 16 credits of post-baccalaureate work (or four 4 credit courses). See the Thesis Track Model of Progress and the Applied Track Model of Progress.

Thesis Track: Of the 48 required credits, 36 must be in anthropology and must include:

Courses Credits
Anth 511, 550, 570 Core Seminars in Anthropology* 12
Graduate-level Anthropology Electives** 12
Approved graduate-level electives (Anth, non-Anth)** 8
An adviser-approved, graduate-level course in research methods*** 4
Anth 501 (thesis research) 4
Anth 503 (thesis) 8
Total 48

Applied Track: Of the 52 required credits, 36 must be in anthropology and must include:

Courses Credits
Anth 511, 550, 570 Core Seminars in Anthropology* 12
Anth 515 Applied Anthropology 4
Graduate-level Anthropology Electives (2 courses)** 8
Approved Graduate-level Electives (4 courses, at least two non-Anth)** 16
An adviser-approved, graduate-level course in research methods*** 4
Anth 504 (Internship) 2
Anth 503 (Applied Thesis) 6
Total 52

* Students may substitute an additional elective course for one of the core courses, with the approval of their advisor

** At least three of these courses (12 credits) must be in formally numbered graduate-level courses (i.e. courses numbered between 510-597 or 610-697). With graduate adviser approval, the remaining two courses (8 credits) may be in courses numbered 504 or 505 (i.e. Internship, Reading and Conference.)

*** This methods course must be formally numbered and described in the PSU Bulletin. It may not be a course numbered 501/601, 502/602, 503/603, 504/604, 505/605, 506/606, 507/607, 508/608, 509/609.

Four calendar years from the term of admission will be the maximum time allowed to complete all requirements for a master's degree. Terms on approved leave of absence will be counted towards the four-year limitation.

In addition to formal course requirements, the following are also necessary:

  1. Candidates for an MA degree must fulfill the second language requirement. Options for meeting the graduate foreign language requirement for MA students include:
    • Passing a course equivalent to PSU level 203 or higher. The Department of World Languages and Literatures will verify completion of the requirement upon evaluation of the student's academic record. Or,
    • Students who do not meet the course equivalent should contact the Department of World Languages and Literatures during the first term after their admission to schedule an oral proficiency interview or a written test. Ordinarily the examination is taken in French, Spanish, or German. Other languages may, upon departmental approval, be substituted.
    Students must complete the foreign language requirement no later than one calendar year following entrance to the program. Foreign Language Requirement Verification Request Forms should be submitted for completion to the Department of World Languages and Literatures in NH 491 and a copy should be given to the Anthropology Department.
  2. Candidates for an MS degree are strongly encouraged to discuss with their advisors the selection of appropriate courses in science, math, and technical skills that would complement their course of study.
  3. Advancement to candidacy involves successful passing (a minimum grade of B-) of the core seminars (Anth 511, 550, 570). Advancement to candidacy can only be accomplished before the close of next-to-the-final term of work.
  4. Approval of a thesis topic (for thesis track students) or thesis topic and internship contract (for applied track students) and the appointment of the graduate committee. The student develops a thesis proposal and submits it to the department faculty for approval and for the formal appointment of the graduate committee. Students should have a master's thesis proposal submitted to and approved by the department faculty as soon as possible following admission to the program, but in no case later than the end of the seventh term (excluding Summer Session) following admission to the program.
  5. Presentation and approval of thesis.
  6. Passing of an oral defense of thesis.

Models of Progress

The Model of Progress: Thesis Track outlines a general pattern for student progress through the Anthropology Department's Thesis Track MA program. Also included are guidelines for moving through the thesis-writing process.

The Model of Progress: Applied Track outlines a general pattern for student progress through the Anthropology Department's Applied Track MA program. Also included are guidelines for moving through the applied thesis-writing process.

Applying for the Degree

As you near the completion of your thesis, you will need to keep in mind the deadlines for three important forms required to be admitted to candidacy, schedule your thesis defense, and complete your oral exam.

Your thesis should be complete and ready to defend by the end of the term before the term in which you wish to graduate. For example, if you wish to graduate in Winter Term, you will need to have your thesis ready to circulate to your committee by the end of the immediately previous Fall Term. Students who wish to graduate at the end of the Fall Term should have their theses ready by the beginning of that term. In some cases students may be able to schedule a defense during the summer, but this is often not possible because most faculty do not teach in the summer and are away from campus.

As you are writing your thesis, check with the Office of Graduate Studies for the deadlines for filing the following forms: (Forms are available on the web at:

  • Application for the degree: All students must file this form IN PERSON with the Office of Graduate Studies in order to graduate. This informs the graduate office of the student’s intended graduation date.
  • GO-16M: Appointment of Final Oral Examination Committee (Masters Level)
    This form is used to formally appoint an oral exam committee, including a graduate office representative, or faculty member from outside the anthropology department. The department submits this form once the student is ready to defend the thesis (as determined by the chair of the thesis committee). The department must have an approved copy of this form before the thesis defense.
  • GO-17M: Masters Recommendation for the Degree
    This form indicates successful completion of the oral exam or thesis defense. The student fills in the top part of the form and the chair of the thesis committee completes the form after the oral examination. A student who passes the oral exam will typically be required to make final revisions to his or her thesis before graduating.