While we welcome applications from students with a wide range of experiences and a diversity of undergraduate degrees, we recommend that you have a B.A. or B.S. in Anthropology or an allied field. If you do not, then we have a set of pre-requisite classes that you must take after you matriculate (Anth 100, Anth 110, Anth 300); some students take corresponding classes at other universities (please check with us for compatibility before you enrol in any non-SFSU classes).


We suggest that you submit your application for admission as early as possible in the application cycle (i.e., in the preceding academic year and summer), we accept students on a rolling basis and close our admissions process once the cohort is full. Note that the University has institutional deadlines for final submissions by candidates; if you are in doubt about whether or not we are still accepting applications, then please contact the graduate coordinator to confirm.

IMPORTANT: regardless of any "formal" deadlines listed on-line or in press, the Department of Anthropology is willing to accept and review applications on a rolling basis, and usually we make final decisions within ten days of having received the complete application package.

If you have a specific problem submitting your application, please contact the graduate coordinator in Anthropology as soon as possible. For more information about applying and how to be successful in gaining admission see our FAQs.

If you are interested in receiving more information about the M.A. in Anthropology at SF State, then send us your contact details by filling out this form on qualtrics.

To apply for a place on the M.A., please complete the CalApply on-line application process.


The University uses CalApply for applications to its graduate programs. Note that the CapApply on-line forms are many and you will need to budget time to complete them. For the Anthropology Department, we are more interested in the "Program Materials" that CalApply will prompt you to upload near the end of their process. We strongly suggest that you start working on the Program Materials early in your application process; in the next section of this webpage, you will find details of the materials that we require. If you have any questions about the Program Materials (especially with respect to your Statement of Purpose), then contact the Graduate Coordinator in Anthropology (Doug Bailey), who will work with you to complete and submit your Program Materials.

Program Materials

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

One-page Curriculum Vitae

Using no more than one-page, please provide the following information: (1) full name; (2) SF State ID number (provided from Cal State Apply); (3) current mailing address; (4) phone number; (5) email address; (6) undergraduate degree (institution, date awarded, degree title, thesis title, if any); (7) postgraduate degree, if any (institution, date awarded, degree title, thesis title, if any); and (8) area of interest within Anthropology (archaeology, cultural anthropology, physical / biological anthropology or visual anthropology).

Statement of Purpose (500 word max)

Explain your experience, interests, and goals as a student of anthropology and your plans post-M.A. In particular address the following topics:

(1) which of the subfields of Anthropology most interests you as an area of specialism (archaeology, cultural anthropology, physical / biological anthropology, visual anthropology);

(2) what parts of your academic (or other experience, including field or lab-based) work has best prepared you to undertake graduate-level work in anthropology; and

(3) which department faculty member would you like to work with; include details of any contact you have already had with that faculty member.

It is essential that you make contact with the particular faculty member with whom you would like to work with. Equally important, as you draft your Statement of Purpose, you must make contact with that faculty member and talk with her/him about specific interest in anthropology and your initial ideas about your thesis research or your project. The Department admissions team will not review Statements of Purpose that do not include details of that discussion (including the faculty member's name, the results of your conversations with her/him, and suggestions of potential thesis or project topics. If you need assistance in finding who to talk to, then consult the People page of the Department website. If you need additional help, then please contact the Graduate Coordinator in Anthropology, who will help you find the best person for you to talk with.

Two Letters of Recommendation

Ask two people with knowledge of your abilities, achievements and character to write letters in support of your application. You will do best to ask former or current teachers, advisors, or others who have supervised your academic or project-based work. CalApply will prompt you to enter details about your referees. It is always best practice to ask your potential referees if they will write on your behalf before you submit their details to us...and it is never a bad idea to (politely) remind them of the deadline for the application.

Writing Sample

Provide a graded essay, undergraduate thesis chapter or other written work (e.g., if you have published professionally) which most clearly shows your ability to communicate in written form. We will use the Writing Sample to assess your technical ability to write as well as your knowledge of anthropological (or other professional) literature. One essay, one thesis chapter or one piece of published work is sufficient. If you do not have a recent example of a graded essay or similar to submit because you have not be enrolled in formal education for some time, then contact the Graduate Coordinator to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Applicants wishing to focus on Visual Anthropology

If you plan to focus on Visual Anthropology, and if you have made films or completed substantial photographic or other graphic work, you should submit copies of this work to the graduate coordinator at the address above (note: costs of postage mean that hard copies cannot be returned). The format of submissions should allow easy access and viewing of the work (e.g., a DVD or thumb-drive).

Official transcripts

Please submit transcripts for all undergraduate classes and any previously completed graduate work. In addition to any transcripts required by the Graduate Division (in Part One of your application), all applicants must send this separate set of transcripts directly to the Department. Do not send multiple copies to either location. Stronger applicants will use their Statement of Purpose to explain how the particular classes that they have completed fit into their personal interests and goals.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores

Instruct the Education Testing Service to send official transcripts of your GRE scores directly to the University (Institution Code: 4684). While we cannot make formal offers of admisson without your GRE scores, it maybe possible, in very exceptional cases, to arrange a delay in receipt of test scores; contact the graduate coordinator in Anthropology if this is an issue. GRE scores must be of a test taken within the past five years. Applicants must have a minimum combined score of 1000 (old scale) and 450 on either section. For the new scale (i.e., after August 2011), applicants must have a minimum combined score of 300 with no less than 150 on the verbal or quantitative reasoning section. Applicants must have a minimum analytical writing score of 4.0.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Students whose native language is not English and whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English must take the TOEFL test, and obtain a score of 550 (on the written test) or 213 (on the computer test) or 79-80 (on the Internet Based Test) or have an equivalent score (6.0) on the International English Language Test Scheme.