Master of Arts in Anthropology

Admission to Program

The Department accepts applications for fall semester enrollments only. Applications for fall admissions should be submitted by February 15.  Applications received after the February 15 deadline will be reviewed on a space-available basis.

While we welcome applications from students with a wide range of experiences and a diversity of undergraduate degrees, we recommend that applicants have a B.A. or B.S. in Anthropology or an allied field. Students enrolling without an anthropology degree may be required to take the following prerequisite classes or equivalents.

ANTH 100Introduction to Biological Anthropology3
ANTH 110Introduction to Archaeology3
ANTH 120Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology3
ANTH 300Foundations of Anthropology: History3

Students may satisfy the prerequisite requirement by having taken similar classes at the undergraduate level at their undergraduate or other institution. Prerequisite coursework will not count toward the degree and may not be included on the ATC.

All application materials are submitted through the CalApply System.

Tips for navigating the online system:

  1. There are four sections in the online application, first, fill out the Personal History Section
  2. In the Academic History Section, opt out of transcript entry and GPA entry.
  3. In the Supporting Materials Section: Enter work experience, awards for relevant achievements, if any. For the Statement of Purpose write: "Uploaded to Program Materials Section".
  4. Use the Program Materials Section to upload all documents (transcripts, writing samples, etc).

For more detailed instructions on using the online CalApply system, see the Division of Graduate Studies website.

If you have any questions about the Program Materials (especially with respect to your Statement of Purpose), contact the graduate admissions coordinator in Anthropology by email at

CalApply will request the following Program Materials. These are the documents that the Department of Anthropology will use to review your application.

  • One-page Curriculum Vitae;
  • Statement of Purpose (500 words max.);
  • Two Letters of Recommendation;
  • Writing Sample;
  • Official Transcripts;
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores; and
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if necessary.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Possess advanced knowledge and understanding of the concepts and theories of the three sub-disciplines covered by the Department.
  2. Have the ability to analyze and evaluate complex data about human biological and cultural systems.
  3. Have the ability to employ a comparative approach and make meaningful cross-cultural comparisons.
  4. Demonstrate an advanced ability to perform all phases of anthropological fieldwork in one of the three sub-disciplines, including but not restricted to archaeological fieldwork, collection of biological data, ethnographic participant observation, interviewing, audio-visual, and archival research methods.
  5. Have skills at levels sufficiently high to allow them access to Ph.D. programs in their sub-field, or move directly into professional employment in their sub-discipline.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

The University has a requirement for written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different levels.

Level One

A score of 4.0 or above on the analytical writing section of the GRE.

Applicants who do not have a 4.0 or above on the analytical writing section of the GRE must complete ANTH 715, ANTH 716, and ANTH 717 with grades of B or above before the end of the first Academic Year of enrollment.

Level Two

Completion of the M.A. thesis (ANTH 898 ) or completion of the written component of the MA Creative Work Project (ANTH 894 ).

Classified Graduate Status

All graduate students are admitted to the program with conditionally classified status. To attain classified status, graduate students must meet the following:

  • Completion of prerequisite coursework (if any).
  • Completion of ANTH 710 with a grade of B or above.

Anthropology (M.A.) — 31 units

All students must complete the following courses and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above.

Core (16 units)

ANTH 710Proseminar in Anthropological Theory and Method3
ANTH 714Anthropological Ethics1
ANTH 720Foundations in Visual Anthropology3
ANTH 721Seminar in Archaeological Problems3
ANTH 722Seminar in Biological Anthropology3
ANTH 723Seminar in Problems in Cultural Anthropology3

Electives (12 units)

To reach the minimum number of units required for the degree, students must:

  • Take graduate elective classes (numbered 700 and above) selected from those offered in the Anthropology Department or, with approval, from other departments at SF State.
  • Students are advised to take ANTH 899 Independent Study (1, 2, or 3 units) as part of their area of specialization. No more than 6 units can be taken in ANTH 695 Internships and ANTH 899 Independent Study combined.
  • With approval, students may take upper-division undergraduate classes.

NOTE: No more than 30% (9 units) of undergraduate coursework may be included on the ATC. (Prerequisite coursework may not be included on the ATC.)

Culminating Experience (3 units)

Select One:

ANTH 894Creative Work Project3
ANTH 898Master's Thesis3