The Catholic University of America

NOTICE: The University is currently not accepting applications to this program.

Graduate Program In Anthropology

Our MA program offers a disciplinary grounding in Anthropology for students seeking to upgrade skills and credentials, to supplement training in health, library science, education, social work, international development and other professional fields, or to explore their capacity for advanced research training in social-cultural anthropology or in archaeology. All students receive training in current theoretical perspectives, research methods and conduct, regional studies and in one of the topical specialties of current faculty: prehistoric and contemporary Latin America, the Middle East, and the contemporary USA, medical and applied anthropology, the information society, globalization, migrants and refugees, comparative early civilizations, ancient art & architecture. The Department participates in a graduate certificate program for International Social Development, works with other departments in the social sciences and humanities to craft individualized programs of study, contributes to cultural training in the School of Nursing, and participates in CUA's developing public policy institute. We routinely take advantage of training opportunities available in departments at other local institutions through the Consortium of Washington Area Universities to enhance training in our specialties.

The program prepares graduates for careers that involve evaluating and sometimes conducting research, more typically synthesizing and applying it. Students who complete this program have gone on to PhDs, some to pursue teaching careers, while most work as program administrators and researchers in government agencies and NGOs, including church agencies, in fields such as development and health care, in private consulting, particularly cultural resource and 'heritage' management, and recently in community-college and secondary education. Department links to the large practitioner community in the nation's capital provide additional opportunities for students and graduates to launch or build careers.

Many students come with careers already started and return to them. Applicants with experience overseas or in service professions and 'returning' students are welcome. Admission is based on review of undergraduate GPA and GRE scores, recommendations, relevant work and other experience (plus TOEFL scores for foreign students as required by the University); it is selective and not limited to graduates in Anthropology.

General Structure of the Program

Our goal is to train graduate students in anthropology to be informed consumers of anthropological knowledge, able to research and review literature in the field and to apply basic perspectives in anthropology, its core concepts and common methods of analysis to interpret and solve problems with the tools of anthropology. To that end, the MA program is structured to impart working knowledge of…

  1. core perspectives and contemporary theories in anthropology
  2. research methods and conduct, including ethical issues of research with human subjects and cultural property
  3. grounding in professional literature of area or regional studies
  4. one of the topical specialties currently represented in the faculty

through a combination of coursework and research training. All MA students take at least one and usually more courses in these areas, starting with ANTH 600 - Anthropological Perspectives and ANTH 601 - Research Design & Conduct in their first year.

Students take topical, specialty and area courses organized as research seminars or tutorials accompanying lecture courses for undergraduates and focused on gaining methodological and bibliographical command appropriate to the more research-focused training of graduate students. Each student's program of study is developed in consultation with a faculty advisor to meet the students interests and goals in training in Anthropology.

Students completing this program will be equipped with skills for:

  1. developing and displaying structured research
  2. collection and analysis of original data
  3. reviewing the state of research on a problem,
  4. synthesizing findings on a problem or topic

appropriate to each student's immediate goals and future plans.

University requirements for the Master's degree consist of 30 course hours, 6 of which after the first full year of coursework may be individual research supervised by a regular faculty member for producing either a thesis or a professional-quality work comparable to a journal article. In addition, the University requires all MA students to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language with a discipline-relevant literature by passing an appropriate course or examination administered or accepted by the Graduate School. Where appropriate, this may also be a language of field research.

Graduate students are assigned an advisor to design and monitor a student's program, which is reviewed annually; they take a comprehensive examination in the four components of the department's program after completing 24 hours of coursework and have an MA committee to read and pass either a formal thesis or non-thesis optional paper that demonstrates research skills. Either typically combines reviewing the state of research on a problem and analyzing data.

Opportunities for Professional Development & Personal Growth.

A limited number of teaching assistantships are available, as well as occasional research assistantships connected to grants and projects, give graduate students hands-on experience with production and teaching of anthropological knowledge. Students are encouraged to participate in and to present papers at scholarly meetings, to become involved in local professional associations such as the Washington Area Practicing Anthropologists and service organizations, and to publish or co-author papers with faculty members from their research. Entering graduate students may be recommended for University-wide competitive scholarships, which are limited and awarded on the basis of GRE scores and other evidence of academic promise.

For additional information on departmental programs, send e-mail to, contact the Chair at 202-319-5080, or write to the Department of Anthropology, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064. Fax: 202-319-4782.

Inquiries and applications for admissions may be sent via e-mail or post to the Office to The Office of Graduate Student Services, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064. Tel: 202-319-5057 Applications can also be filed on-line.

NB: We are not currently accepting applications for the PhD.