M.A. in Anthropology

The NEW deadline for Fall 2021 admission is January 15, with all supporting material so that the review committee can begin the review process in mid-January. We will ONLY accept materials submitted electronically. 


Our department offers a 30-hour, two-year long graduate program culminating in the Master of Arts degree. Since we began offering the master’s degree in 2007, anthropology graduate students at NC State 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. We prepare our students to enter top-ranked doctoral programs and to find satisfying careers in non-academic and applied settings. 

Visit Us

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we're offering a few new ways to connect with us this fall:

  1. Reach out to the faculty member of interest to you. In addition to their proven track record, they may have upcoming projects and research ideas of interest to you.
  2. Arrange a Zoom meeting with our Director of Graduate Programs, Nora Haenn, using Google calendar or by email.
  3. Keep an eye out for our Fall 2020 webinar: TBA

Meet Our Faculty

Kathryn Grossman

Dr. Grossman was recently awarded a prestigous National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Dr. Grossman, Dr. Paulette and an international team of researchers will undertake research to study the political organization in Prehistoric Cyprus of small-scale, village-based societies and, especially, resistance to the process of state formation. Understanding how these intentionally small-scale, decentralized, and egalitarian societies operated will yield new insight into the diverse forms of political organization that have developed, persisted, and thrived alongside states. 

Nora Haenn

Dr. Haenn's book "Marriage After Migration" is here! Organized around the lives of five women in rural Mexico, Haenn goes beyond the news stories at the border to shed light on how the women work to keep their families together. If you’ve been wondering how migration gets its start, this book tells you how. If you like to read about romance and family drama, then check this book out. Get your copy at these locations: Amazon and Oxford Press.

Dru McGill

Dr. McGill and Dr. John Millhauser bring their expertise in archaeology, heritage, and applied ethics to the Oberlin Village Cemetery, a historically and culturally significant African American cemetery in Raleigh. The Friends of Oberlin Village, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the community, has invited students and faculty from NC State, William Peace and other universities to assist in documentation and preservation efforts. To learn more about Oberlin Village and the Friends of Oberlin Village, please visit their website.

Program Specializations

We offer three anthropology program specializations to graduate students: 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 related to one of the “associated NC State resources” listed below. 


Archaeologists study past cultures through their material remains—from everyday objects to human remains to landscapes. Our archaeology graduate students develop a program of study based on holistic training in anthropology and interdisciplinary scholarship. We provide dedicated laboratory space for archaeological research and materials analysis. Graduate students may choose to construct a research project on a subject of their own choice in consultation with their advisor, or to gain training and expertise in the following areas:

Understand the fundamentals of human social organization and social inequality past and present.

Research the material evidence of social, political, and economic organization and change using archaeological methods.

Develop a framework for critically assessing the theories, methods, and data that archaeologists apply to the topics of political organization and social inequality in historic and prehistoric contexts.

Faculty who work in this area include: Case, Grossman, McGillMillhauser, and Wesp

Understand the legal, ethical and practical aspects of the management of archaeological resources. 

Study relationships between cultural and natural heritage and the social and political processes involved in conservation and preservation.

Build partnerships with community groups focused on cultural heritage and preservation. 

Develop professional experience and critical skills related to cultural resource management and public outreach. 

Faculty who work in this area include: Grossman,  McGill, and Millhauser

Associated NC State Resources: 

Study the policies and practices of cultural resource management as it pertains to the investigation of archaeological resources.

Design and implement collections management policies and plans.

Develop professional experiences and skills related to cultural resources management and collections management.

Faculty who work in this area include: McGill and Millhauser

Associated NC State Resources: 

Biological Anthropology

Biological anthropologists study human populations and past cultures through analysis of the form and function of the human body, with an emphasis on evolutionary change over time. Our biological anthropology graduate students take courses in human osteology, bioarchaeology, and skeletal biology, in addition to training in archaeology and anthropological theory relevant to their research interests. We provide dedicated laboratory space for bioanthropological research and training, as well as a large teaching collection of skeletal remains. Graduate students may choose to construct a research project on a subject of their own choice in consultation with their advisor, or gain training and expertise in the following areas: 

Research how human skeletal remains can be used to reconstruct daily life in the past. 

Analyze the impact of gender differences on the lived experiences of past peoples.

Understand how social organization and complexity impacted human health and disease in the past. 

Examine how biomechanical stress from labor and activity manifests itself in the skeleton

Faculty who work in this area include: Case and Wesp

Research the impact of diet and health on size variation in the skeleton.

Understand how sexual dimorphism and stature are influenced by life circumstances.

Examine the potential of skeletal defects as indicators of genetic relationships.

Faculty who work in this area include: Case and Walker.

Additional NC State Resources

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropologists at NC State pursue a wide range of research interests, including specializations in the following two areas: Globalization and Social Justice and Science, Environment and Health. Graduate students at NC State may construct a research project on a subject of their own choice in consultation with their advisor, or receive training and expertise in the following skills: 

Understand global processes and their effects, especially at the intersection of the local with the global, upon social and cultural groupings and fields of action. 

Evaluate how global processes affect issues of social justice, in areas of law, the environment, cultural resource management, and fair labor practices.

Research local perspectives and interpretations of global processes and how these shape the effects of globalization on the ground. 

Develop a framework for critically engaging social justice issues, as shaped and transformed by conflicts among forces ranging from global to local. 

Additional NC State Resources

Faculty who work in this area include: HaennMillhauser,and  Murray

Examine the cultural construction of science, nature, and the human body. 

Investigate the intersection of political and market forces with the environment, health, and medical practice.

Consider the effect of academic knowledge practices on health initiatives and natural resource management. 

Develop a program for carrying out positive change in the fields of environment and health. 

Additional NC State Resources

Faculty who work in this area include: Haenn, Millhauser, Murray, and Wesp.


The Anthropology Graduate Program is a 30-hour, two-year long Master of Arts degree. All students in the program will take a 1-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 (bioarchaeology, skeletal biology) 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 following the thesis track are also required to take six hours of thesis research credit (ANT 695). 

The following is a list of courses broken down by specialty area that can be used 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
  • Human Osteology
  • Geospatial Information Science (GIS)
  • Statistics
  • Masters Research
  • Masters Supervised Research
  • Masters Thesis Preparation

NC State Anthropology Labs

Our state-of-the-art anthropology labs are the result of six years of work by university architects, planners and designers consulting with anthropology faculty. 

Our centerpiece anthropology teaching lab serves as a classroom for hands-on introductory classes and advanced courses.  The osteology lab is home to comparative human skeletal elements, complete skeletons and casts of skulls, all designed to help students understand the human skeleton. The archaeology lab contains a wide variety of artifacts, bones and biological remains that are all we have left to help us understand past human societies.  

The Archaeology Laboratory offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience analyzing and curating archaeological collections from around the world.

Archaeology Lab

A graduate Teaching Assistant overseas research projects and is available as a resource for undergraduate independent study students who use the lab. 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. The lab has several comparative collections of stone tools and raw material, with a special emphasis on the southeastern states.

State of the art computing, measurement, microscopy and photography equipment allows for precise data collection and technologically advanced analysis of archaeological remains.

The Osteology Laboratory is equipped with hundreds of real and cast bones for student study.

Osteology Lab

The lab also contains an ever-growing sample population of complete modern human skeletons available for both graduate and undergraduate analysis. A library of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1973-latest) is also maintained in the osteology lab, as well as standard photography, microscopy and measurement equipment.

Comparative Skulls

The Teaching Laboratory offers a large, modern space for undergraduate and graduate study.

Teaching Lab

The spacious tables 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 houses the department’s hominid and evolutionary fossil stone-tool and bone replicas – from the skulls of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) to European Neanderthals, these unique casts are available to students and faculty.

Teaching Collection

Equipped with a full suite of modern educational technology, the teaching lab is a great place for undergraduates and graduates to learn and study.

Primate Skeleton

For access, please visit the graduate teaching assistants in the Osteology Lab, Park Shops 230, – open from 9:00am-5:00pm, M-F.

How to Apply

Each year, we receive an average of 40 applications for our Fall admissions and admit an average of 12. For information on the application process, as well as upcoming visitation dates, read the information below. 

A completed application includes: transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a writing sample. A CV is optional but encouraged. Please see the details in the list that follows: 

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 deadline for Fall admissions is January 15, with all supporting material so that the review committee can begin the review process in mid-January. We will ONLY accept materials submitted electronically. Please note that our program accepts full- and part-time students to begin their studies during the Fall semester only. We do not accept applications for Spring admissions. 

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 on-line application for admission to graduate school. If you do the form electronically, however, you must still mail in your check for the application fee (currently $85.00 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, enumerated below.

The online application can be accessed here.

An application for admission to our program must also include: 

  • 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


Financial Assistance

Our program is committed to supporting students to the extent we can. We offer teaching and other assistantships on a competitive basis through the Graduate School’s Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP). Assistantships provide tuition coverage for Fall and Spring, health insurance for the year, and a biweekly stipend from August to May. We also advocate for students by applying to special funds for outstanding students and several types of minority scholarships awarded by the Graduate School. Students who seek funding outside the department, such as through the campus Fellowship Advising Office, can count on faculty input to strengthen their applications.