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M.A. in Anthropology

We prepare our students to enter high quality doctoral programs and to find satisfying careers in non-academic and applied settings.

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Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Anthropology is a 30-hour, two-year graduate program, with specializations in archaeology, biological anthropology and cultural anthropology.

Since we began offering the degree in 2007, our students have distinguished themselves by conducting original research projects, presenting their findings at regional and national conferences and publishing their scholarly work as co-authors with program faculty.

Our faculty conduct research across the globe in archaeology, biological anthropology and cultural anthropology, and have created opportunities for students to become involved in ongoing studies.

Schedule a Visit

For Fall 2021 we welcome virtual or in person visits. However, will still hope you’ll contact us. Join us for Visit NC State Program on November 28-30, 2021. Financial support available with an application completed by October 4. Other visitation dates are possible. Please reach out to our Director of the Graduate Program or faculty members of interest to you. Click the email link below to sign up for our Zoom Q+A on December 15th at Noon EST. We look forward to meeting you!

The 1911 Building on NC State's campus

Program Specializations

We offer three specializations for the M.A. in Anthropology: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology.

Students may pursue a stand-alone degree in anthropology or a dual-degree (for example, with the Masters of Arts in Teaching).

Students may also combine their anthropology degree with a concentration in related disciplines on campus.

Accomplished Alumni

Our more than 80 program alumni work in a variety of fields and industries. They’re talented archaeologists, researchers, professors and teachers. They’re also ethnographers, consultants, project coordinators and doctoral students. Wherever they work, they uphold NC State’s think and do spirit.

Students participate in an archaeological dig

Degree Requirements

All students take a one-hour, proseminar course their first semester. This course teaches students about the professional aspects of being a student and an academic.

Students with a specialization in archaeology or biological anthropology will normally take three hours of archaeological method and theory (ANT 583), and students with a specialization in cultural anthropology will take three hours of anthropological theory (ANT 511). All students on the thesis track must also take six hours of thesis research credit (ANT 695).

The following panels list courses that students can take to fulfill the M.A. requirements:

  • Archaeological Method and Theory
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Human Osteology
  • Paleopathology
  • Skeletal Biology
  • Advised Electives within or outside Anthropology (e.g. anatomy, taphonomy, etc.)
  • Biological Statistics
  • Masters Research
  • Masters Supervised Research
  • Masters Thesis Preparation
  • Anthropological Theory
  • Anthropology of Ecotourism and Heritage Conservation
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Applied Anthropology
  • Cultural Resource Management
  • Culture, Ecology, and Sustainability
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Tourism, Culture, and Anthropology
  • Urban Anthropology
  • Advised Electives in Cultural Anthropology
  • Advised Electives within or outside Anthropology
  • Foreign Language (at the discretion of the advisor)
  • Masters Research
  • Masters Supervised Research
  • Masters Thesis Preparation
  • Anthropological Theory
  • Archaeological Method and Theory
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Cultural Resource Management
  • Environmental Archaeology
  • Human Osteology
  • Geospatial Information Science (GIS)
  • Southeastern Archaeology
  • Statistics
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Masters Research
  • Masters Supervised Research
  • Masters Thesis Preparation

Financial Assistance

We offer teaching and other assistantships on a competitive basis through NC State’s Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP). Assistantships provide tuition coverage for fall and spring semesters, health insurance for the year and a biweekly stipend from August to May. We also advocate for students by applying to special funds and scholarships — and helping strengthen student applications for aid.

Students walk outside of the student union

How to Apply

Each year, we receive an average of 40 applications for our fall admissions and admit an average of 12 students.

Prospective students apply through the NC State Graduate School. Completed applications include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a writing sample. A CV is optional but encouraged.

Application Deadline

The deadline for fall admissions is Jan. 15, with all supporting material so that the review committee can begin the review process in mid-January. Our program accepts full- and part-time students to begin their studies during the fall semester. We do not accept applications for spring admissions. 

Completed applications must include the following:

  • Transcripts: You will need to upload unofficial transcripts of all your academic course work since high school, including each institution of higher education you have attended. You will only need to send official transcripts to the Graduate School if you are admitted. Do not send transcripts to the Graduate Program in Anthropology. 
  • Letters of Recommendation: We require at least three recommendations. The Graduate School application packet includes a form for your references to use. This form only has a small space for comments. Please ask your references toa dd a letter in which they provide more detail. Specifics about their experience with you are particularly informative. If you are not currently in school, please take care in selecting the people to write these letters. We need to know how you are likely to perform in an academic setting. 
  • Personal Statement: This is usually a relatively brief statement of about two pages. We are especially interested to know how graduate training in anthropology fits into your intellectual and professional goals and plans. Please indicate in your statement which of our program specializations you are most interested in and why. 
  • Writing Sample: We pay very careful attention to the example of your writing that you submit. We look for organization, use of evidence, logic of argument, and quality of analysis. Typical submissions include course papers and senior thesis chapters.  Sample papers should be single-authored and about 10 pages in lengths. Contact the Director of Graduate Program if you have questions about what constitutes an acceptable writing sample.

The Graduate School requires payment of a $75 application fee ($85 USD for International applicants). The Graduate School may waive the application fee based upon the applicant’s need and to achieve greater diversity for certain underrepresented groups. In requesting this waiver, you will need to contact the Graduate School (see contact information below). 

To apply, you may complete an online application for admission to the NC State Graduate School. If you complete the form electronically, however, you must still mail in your check for the application fee (currently $85 in U.S. currency drawn from a U.S. bank or from an international bank with a U.S. affiliate) and other parts of the application, noted below.

  • Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate studies
  • TOEFL scores for applicants who are not native English speakers. You can view our English Proficiency Requirements for more information.
  • Three letters of recommendation (we will be especially interested in reading the recommendation of a social scientist who can assess your promise as a social scientist).
  • A sample of your writing, such as an academic paper you have written.
  • A personal statement of the relationship of graduate training in anthropology in our department for your long term interests, including your professional career intentions. 

After admission, official transcripts should be sent to:

The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1020 Main Campus Drive,
Room 2300A
Campus Box 7102
Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

Anthropology Labs

Teaching Lab – Park Shops 222

Our centerpiece anthropology teaching lab serves as a classroom for hands-on introductory classes and advanced courses. The lab can accommodate a full human skeleton for osteological analysis, providing enough room for an entire class of students to experience hands-on learning. The teaching lab also has zooarchaeological collections for students to examine.

Osteology Lab – Park Shops 230

The osteology lab is home to comparative human skeletal elements, zooarchaeological collections, and complete skeletons and casts of skulls, all designed to help students understand the human skeleton. We also maintain a library of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1973-latest) as well as standard photography, microscopy and measurement equipment.

Archaeology Lab – Park Shops 220

The archaeology lab contains a wide variety of artifacts, bones and biological remains that help us understand past human societies. Graduate and undergraduate students can participate in and learn how to undertake curation and specialized examinations of archaeological remains such as stone tools and pottery.