M.A. in Anthropology

Expand your expertise.  Focus on archaeology, cultural or biological anthropology. We’ll prepare you for a doctoral program or a career in the field. 


M.A. in Anthropology

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. 

Applicants are encouraged to visit us in person either through the “Visit NC State Program” (applications due October 2, 2017) or on one of our visitation days: Friday, November 3 and Monday, November 13.

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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:

Research the ways in which humans have adapted to and changed their environments.

Understand the causes of past environmental change, whether human or otherwise. 

Apply knowledge of human impacts on past environments to contemporary questions of policy and practice. 

Faculty who work in this area include: CaseJuarez, and Millhauser

Associated NC State resources: 

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. 

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

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

Associated NC State resources: 

Students also benefit from our close proximity to local institutions that facilitate the curation and study of archaeological remains, such as: 

Biological Anthropology

Biological anthropology is the study of the form and function of the human body, with an emphasis on evolutionary change over time. It is a diverse field of inquiry, with different subfields devoted to different subjects, such as living humans, modern skeletons, archaeological skeletons, mummies, our fossil ancestors and non-human primates. Researchers in biological anthropology employ a comparative approach to understanding the variation that exists among human populations, among our fossil ancestors, and among our non-human primate cousins both past and present. The comparative approach helps biological anthropologists to understand why individuals or species differ by considering the unique environmental or social contexts within which those differences developed. Biological anthropologists in the anthropology program at NC State work primarily in the areas of bioarchaeology (Case,  Juarez), forensic anthropology (Juarez), paleoanthropology (Walker) and skeletal biology (Case, Juarez, Walker). Our program offers training in the following areas: 

Bioarchaeologists are interested in what can be learned about past human lifeways by studying skeletal changes caused by stresses experienced over an individual's lifetime. These stresses may result from strenuous activity, nutritional deficiency, infectious disease, interpersonal violence, or other causes. Bioarchaeologists use a wide variety of tools to explore the impact of stress on past human skeletons, in order to better understand changes in health and activity in the past. Many bioarchaeologists also study the human skeleton to better understand social organization, using variation in burial context to interpret social structure, for example, or comparing skeletal stressors in females and males to explore division of labor or variation in the status of the sexes in the past. NC State offers two graduate level courses related to bioarchaeology (ANT 595 Paleopathology, ANT 524 Bioarchaeology). 

Faculty who work in this area include: Case and Juarez

Forensic anthropology is an applied subfield of biological anthropology that applies the scientific methods of biological anthropology to the medicolegal process. The forensic anthropologist can render a biological profile or composite of an individual by providing accurate information such as age at death, sex, estimated living stature, ancestry, osteological pathology, trauma, and other biological information that is crucial to the identification process. NC State offers two graduate level courses in forensic anthropology (ANT 529 Advanced Forensic Methods, ANT 595 forensic Isotopes). 

Faculty who work in this area include: Juarez.

Human skeletal biology is a subfield of biological anthropology focused on how evolution has shaped the skeleton over time, as well as how other biological processes continue to shape the skeleton over the course of a lifetime. Skeletal biologists are interested in the impacts of developmental stress, bone remodeling, sexual dimorphism, age-related changes, and population-based genetic variation on the size and shape of the human skeleton and its individual bones. NC State offers two graduate level courses in skeletal biology (ANT 521 Human Osteology, ANT 585 Skeletal Biology). 

Faculty who work in this area include: CaseJuarez, and Walker.

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropologists at NC State pursue a wide range of research interests, including specializations in the following three areas: Globalization and Social Justice; Science, Environment and Health; and Heritage, Aesthetics and Materiality. 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: Haenn, McManus, Millhauser, Murray, and Wallace

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 Wallace

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

Understand the relationships among aesthetics, political movements, and memory. 

Conceptualize the intersections among materiality, meaning, and market value. 

Develop professional experience and critical skills related to cultural and natural heritage resource management. 

Additional NC State Resources

Faculty who work in this area include: McManusMillhauser, and Wallace


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, forensics, 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:

  • Advanced Methods in Forensic Anthropology
  • Archaeological Method and Theory
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Forensic Isotopes
  • 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

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 forensic analysis lab is a working forensic laboratory where students get hands-on case experience (see link to the Forensic Analysis Laboratory for more information). 

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 Forensic Analysis Laboratory is a state-of-the-art laboratory with full case examination capabilities. Contact the lab at 919-515-9009.

Services Offered:

Biological Profile of Unidentified Persons

Place of Origin

Human Identification

 Living Person Age Estimation

 Trauma Analysis

 Photographic Superimposition

 Expert Testimony

 Clandestine Grave Search and Recovery and Outdoor Crime Scene Excavation

Equipment Available for Research and Casework:

MinXray Digital X-ray System

Microscribe GX2 Digitizers

Avizo Software for Medical Imaging

Omano Boom microscope with built in camera and Keyence VHX1100 digital microscope

Hologic QDR-4500W Bone Density Scanner

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.

Visit Us

We welcome prospective students at any time. To make sure all faculty are on hand to answer your questions, we have designed visitation days when we know faculty schedules will be open. Please, come tour our anthropology laboratories, meet with current students and faculty, and get to know the NCSU community! Let us know you will be stopping by! Contact the Director of the Anthropology Graduate Program, Dr. Nora Haenn:  nora_haenn@ncsu.edu to schedule your visit. 

Visitation Days for Fall 2017

Friday, November 3 and Monday, November 13

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, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. A writing sample and CV are 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. 

Graduate Record Examination (GRE): We require the GRE. We do not have a cut-off point, although we especially seek applicants with combined verbal plus quantitative scores above 300 and a score of 4 or above on the Analytical Writing Examination. If your scores are not high, we may still admit you if other parts of your application are strong. As with transcripts, we can evaluate your application with a photocopy or fax of the score report but eventually we will need an official report from the agency that administers the test. 

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. We strong prefer writing samples of approximately 15-25 pages in length. If you would like us to read part of a large work, you could attach an explanation of how the part relates to the whole.

The deadline for Fall admissions is January10th, 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 Anthropology graduate program will be accepting late applications until February 1, 2018.

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). 

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.