Degree Structure

The M.A. in Anthropology is a 30-unit degree usually completed in two to three academic years and includes core seminars, skills classes, electives and a Culminating Experience (i.e., a final Thesis or Creative Project). In their first year of study, students take the following classes:

Core Seminars

Anth 710: Proseminar in Anthropology

In this team-taught small-group seminar, students focus on one topic (the current class is investigating violence from an anthropological perspective). All faculty contribute to teaching this class, and students have the opportunity to get to know the discipline's different subfields and the department's different faculty expertise and  research interests (3-units).

Anth 720: Graduate Seminar in Visual Anthropology

In this class, students undertake an in-depth study of the development of visual anthropology. Special emphasis is placed on the following topics: origins and history of visual anthropology; culture and its visual representation (media and politics); indigenous media; anthropological films and film-making; anthropological photographs and photography; and the active archive (2-units).

Anth 721: Graduate Seminar in Archaeology

In this class, students undertake an in-depth study of the development of archaeological thought. Special emphasis is placed on the following topics: disciplinary roots and racism; culture-history; processual archaeology; post-processual archaeology; cognitive archaeology; materiality; agency and practice; gender, sexuality and the feminist critique; the body; post-colonial archaeology; the politics of heritage; nationalism; and community archaeology (2-units).

Anth 722: Graduate Seminar in Biological Anthropology

Various aspects of current research and trends in Biological Anthropology. Fossil evidence, modern human variation, comparative anatomy, and behavior and evolutionary theory (2-units).

Anth 723: Graduate Seminar in Cultural Anthropology

Directed research in problems in Cultural Anthropology related to a specific cultural area, ethnic group, or specific topic (2-units).

Skills Classes

Anth 715: Anthopological Writing

Topics range from a review of basic grammar, style, and usage, to the organization of argument and its delivery, and on to strategies to enhance creative thinking. Students review prominent writing styles in anthropology, and learn about the variety of sub-disciplinary, professional association, and publishing house style-guides and submission procedures (1-unit).

Anth 716: The Literature Review

This class provides students with the basic skills needed to write a literature review including the following: the components of the review; the location and assessment of sources; the best ways to categorize, organize, and critically synthesize sources and source content; plagiarism and citation; aspects of literature reviews specific to anthropology; and the development of the appropriate authorial tone (1-unit).

Anth 717: The Research Proposal

In this class, students acquire and practice the basic skills needed to produce a research proposal that is practical and appropriate for their MA thesis or Creative Work including the following: designing a research question; defining and documenting the context of research; choosing and assessing methods to be used; understanding ethnical concerns and gaining permissions required for research; and foreseeing expected results and assessing the significance, impact, and consequences of the results obtaining for existing knowledge and for future research (1-unit).

Anth 719: The Research Presentation

In this class, students will learn the skills needed to effectively deliver an oral or poster presentation of your academic research. The emphasis will be on learning to craft a clear, compelling and technically accurate presentation that is appropriate to a professional setting (1-unit). 


Student chose electives from the following list of classes:

  • Anth 730: Human Osteology (3-units)
  • Anth 731: Human Fossils Practicum (3-units)
  • Anth 735: Palaeopathology (3-units)
  • Anth 750: Graduate Seminar in Visual Anthropology: The Fixed Image (3-units)
  • Anth 755: Graduate Seminar in Visual Anthropology: The Moving Image (3-units)
  • Anth 785: Teaching Anthropology (1-, 2-, 3-units) 
  • Anth 899: Independent Study (1-, 2-, or 3-units): may be taken twice

Students may also select M.A.-level classes (700 and above) offered by other SF State departments (with the pre-approval the graduate coordinator), and upper division undergraduate classes in Anthropology (provided that upper division undergraduate classes make up no more than 30% of the total number of units awarded for the completion of the M.A.).

Students who enter the program without an undergraduate degree in Anthropology (or without satisfactory undergraduate classes in Anthropology) may be required to take relevant undergraduate classes before being enrolled in graduate level classes; if you have questions about your status, continuing students, please email the graduate coordinator.

Culminating Experience

Once students have completed their first two terms of study, they must complete their degree through the selction of electives and by successfully completing their Culminative Experience through one of the following classes:

  • Anth 894: Project / Creative Work (3-units)
  • Anth 898: Thesis (3-units)

Routes through the Degree

There are four normal routes through the degree and students follow the most appropriate depending on whether or not their undergraduate degree was in Anthropology. Full details of the routes are available from the graduate coordinator.