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Study Humankind in the Cultures of the World

Program Information


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The Master of Arts in Anthropology program covers a diverse range of specializations within the four traditional fields of anthropology. The program is designed to provide students with a broad knowledge in advanced anthropology and the opportunity to conduct creative and independent research. Small cohorts and individualized mentoring for graduate students are strengths of the program. Graduate students are encouraged to develop applied theses grounded in strong theoretical frameworks. 

One anthropology student standing at a table and another student with their back to the camera, facing the table and first student.

A major professor and two other faculty members serve to direct and advise each graduate student in research and writing a thesis. Faculty in related departments such as Political Sciences, Psychology, and Geology may serve on thesis committees, enabling graduate students to pursue interdisciplinary research.

Two years, divided by a summer of research, are usually needed for the completion of the program of study. Thesis research ranges over a broad spectrum of topics reflecting the strengths and interests of the Anthropology Graduate Faculty.

Study under faculty with specialties and interests in the following areas:

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Engaged and Collaborative Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistic Archaeology


  • Provide structured training in the academic core, appropriate specialization courses, and experience conducting advanced independent research
  • Prepare students for a variety of professional careers utilizing anthropology (e.g. social services, international corporations, cultural resource management, technology, forensics, public health)
  • Prepare students for Ph.D. programs or other advanced degrees

Anthropology Graduate Student Research

Application Requirements

  • All applicants must complete the Graduate School's ApplyWeb application and pay the $100 application fee.
  • Within the application you will be prompted to upload an unofficial transcript from each institution attended. If admitted, you will be asked to provide official transcripts.
  • Additional application materials are specified below. Applications will not be forwarded to the department for review until all required materials have been received by the Graduate School.
  • International Applicants: Please review the requirements for information regarding Degree Equivalency, English Language Proficiency and student VISA requirements.

Additional Application Requirements

  • Three (3) Letters of Reference
  • Selection of at least one potential advisor from the departmental faculty
  • About the Statement of Purpose:
    The “Statement of Purpose” is an essay where you inform the application reviewers of who you are and what you want to research. The statement is an opportunity to explain and share your experiences, motivation, and research interest.

    We provide questions to address in your statement but encourage you to share any additional information you think might help the reviewers make a more informed decision. For example, you could highlight certain strengths if they are not obvious in your other application materials. You may also discuss weaknesses in your application or extenuating circumstances that may help the reviewers understand your unique experiences and background.

    We encourage you to have a research question or topic. “I like anthropology” or “I want to research medical anthropology” is not sufficient. We do not require you to have a specific research question, but you should have, at minimum, a research focus or specific interest. The faculty advisors in our program prefer applicants who know about their sub-discipline, have developed their interests, and are considering their future goals.

    The statement of purpose, along with your other application materials, is reviewed by a committee of potential faculty advisors. We recommend you edit your statement carefully and ask a friend, professor, or another mentor to review it. Please do not submit a statement longer than 1000 words (approximately four double-spaced pages).

    Statement of Purpose:
    Please submit a statement of purpose (1000 words, maximum) addressing at least the following: What is your specific research focus, research question, or research interest? Why are you pursuing an M.A. in Anthropology, and why do you think the program at Western Washington University suits you in particular? Which Anthropology faculty could advise your research, and why? Finally, what are your plans after completing the M.A.?