Apply to the M.A.

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 120,  Anth 300); some students take corresponding classes at other universities (please check with us for compatibility before you enroll in any non-SF State classes).


The Provost and the President have approved our participation in the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) [] which enables students in 16 Western states ( and territories to enroll in participating public graduate programs as nonresidents, yet pay the lower resident tuition rate.  In other words, eligible out-of-state students can now pay in-state tuition in approved programs.


Applications will be reviewed by the Department on a semi-rolling basis and strong applicants may receive early admissions offers as soon as the application review is completed. For full consideration, applications for fall admissions should be submitted by February 15th, but we will continue reviewing candidates up until the start of the term on a space available basis. 

If you have a specific problem submitting your application, please contact the graduate admissions 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.


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

Program Materials

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

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. You should talk with that faculty member about your specific interest in anthropology and your initial ideas about your thesis research or creative works project. The Department will not review Statements of Purpose that do not include details of that discussion (the faculty member's name, potential thesis or creative works topics).  To identify the appropriate faculty member with whom you share research interests, consult the People page of the Department website. If you need additional help, you can contact the Graduate Admissions Coordinator at

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 evaluators. All letter writer email addresses should be from a professional or academic organizations (ex., or, not personal email addresses. Once contact information is submitted, an email request will automatically be sent to the evaluator on your behalf. Please advise your evaluator to look for this email in their inbox, as well as their spam or junk-mail folder, as emails do occasionally get filtered out.

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 admissions 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 include links to this work in your statement of purpose. Alternatively, you can upload copies in the “other documents” section of CalApply, email files ( or mail hard copies to the Department: graduate admissions coordinator, San Francisco State University, Department of Anthropology, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132. The format of mailed submissions should allow easy access and viewing of the work (e.g., a DVD or thumb-drive). Note: costs of postage mean that copies sent to the Department cannot be returned.

Unofficial transcripts

The Division of Graduate Studies requires you to upload unofficial copies of transcripts from every college or university attended, including study abroad and community college coursework.  If selected for admission, you must submit official transcripts to the division of graduate studies in order to secure your admission offer.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores

For application to Anthropology's Graduate Program, GRE examinations are optional for AY 21-22.

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 TOEFL test OR 80 on the internet based test (iBT TOEFL) OR have an band score of 6.5 on the International English Language Test Scheme (IELTS) OR an overall score of 55 on the Pearson Test of English (PTE).