Anthropology - Research, Master of Arts

Department of Anthropology

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This graduate degree coursework allows students to pursue independently designed research goals with the guidance of faculty mentors that culminate in the writing and successful defense of a thesis. Our department has been highly successful in mentoring graduate students with opportunities to further their professional and academic development in anthropology at the Ph.D. level.

This plan will not be available to new students after Summer 2020

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

Minimum Units for Completion 37 - 38
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Thesis Thesis is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study
Student Learning Outcomes

Anthropology – Research M.A.
Our departmental mission integrates scientific and humanistic approaches to the study of people and culture. We enlist past, present, and future perspectives on the human condition to inform our two goals:

  1. to support global citizenship through information, skills, and perspectives that build cross-cultural awareness and increase the ability to identify our own cultural assumptions, and
  2. to promote an engaged anthropology that addresses the contemporary challenges of our local and global communities.
The purpose of the Master’s in Anthropology program in Research at Northern Arizona University is to provide a student-centered program that couples a strong core set of theory and methods courses with an individualized program of study designed by the student and his/her advisor, geared specifically for the student’s career plan.
Our program emphasizes strong professional and presentational skills that enable our students to communicate effectively to diverse academic, professional and public audiences, and supports interdisciplinary and innovative applications of anthropology to research problems.  We value and support inquiry that connects theory and practice and that uses each domain to explore and refine the other. 
Students work closely with their research advisor to develop a personal plan of study and research, in which the student applies a core body of methodological and theoretical knowledge to a thesis in the student's individual area of research interest. 
Through our guidance-based approach, our program’s learning experiences prepare students for careers in a variety of professions, teaching, as well as for post-graduate and professional programs at other institutions.  Upon completion of the AnthropologyResearch M.A. program, all students will be able to:
  • Examine and elucidate the major theories, research methods and approaches to inquiry in their selected track of anthropology.  (archaeology, linguistic anthropology, or sociocultural anthropology)
  • Synthesize and evaluate anthropological theories and methods, and apply them appropriately within their original research project
  • Reflect upon the use of theory and practice to explore their research area, and through these reflections, identify how to apply analytical skills to approach and resolve a variety of existing and emerging theoretical and social problems
  • Identify the cultural assumptions, including their own, that influence the design, conduct, and interpretation of their research results
  • Summarize and discuss ethics and the ethical codes employed in anthropology, and identify and reason through real-world examples of ethical dilemmas
  • Articulate the ways in which the anthropological perspective can be applied to current issues in society
  • Pursue, design, and complete an original research project that contributes to, expands, or evaluates the field of Anthropology and write a professional thesis:
    • Articulate a theoretical framework for the project (including conducting a literature review to assess the theoretical and methodological contributions previously made to this area)
    • Identify and define appropriate variables and methods of data collection, select and apply quantitative and qualitative research methods appropriate to the research design, and analyze, interpret and explain your findings
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of the project and its implications to the field of Anthropology.
  • Present your original research to professional and non-professional audiences, articulating sustained, coherent explanations summarizing your work
  • Conduct a thesis defense to a community of anthropology faculty and peers
  • Create a personal career development plan based on your strengths and goals and incorporate the new perspectives gained through your original research experience
  • Effectively represent their experience, skills and competencies through written (resume, cover letter, grant writing, application materials, social media, etc.) and verbal (interview skills, presentation skills, etc.) communication

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Prerequisites (may be completed concurrently with the program)
      • Classes in archaeology, cultural, linguistics, biological and statistics
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Personal statement or essay
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 37 - 38 units:

    • Theory: ANT 600 (3 units)
    • Ethics: ANT 521, or ANT 522 (1 unit)
    • ANT 605 (3 units)
    • Thesis: ANT 699 for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved thesis. Please note: you may count only 6 units of thesis credit toward your degree, however you may end up taking more than 6 thesis units, since you must register for it each semester while you are working on your thesis. (6 units)
    • Additional electives of which 12 units must be organized around a theme or emphasis, chosen in consultation with your advisor (15-18 units*).
    • Complete a concentration, as further described below (6-10 units):
      • Archaeology Concentration (6 units)
      • Linguistic Concentration (10 units)
      • Sociocultural Concentration (9 units)
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.