Department of Anthropology M.A. Program

University of Montana Department of Anthropology offers courses of study leading to the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Anthropology. The M.A. program has four options: general anthropology, cultural heritage, linguistic anthropology, and forensic anthropology.


Admission to the anthropology graduate programs is competitive and open to students with a Bachelors of Arts or Sciences degree; a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 for the M.A. degree program; Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores and/or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores; positive letters of recommendation; and a statement of purpose that indicates professional goals compatible with the research specialties of the faculty.There is no minimum GRE score, and GRE scores are only one measure used to assess an applicant's suitability for the program. Provisional admission may be offered for promising students who do not meet the GPA standards. If the Bachelor's degree is not in Anthropology, the student will work with their advisor to develop a course of instruction that includes developing a background in the four fields of Anthropology.

The Degree Program

Successful completion of the M.A. degree in anthropology requires coursework, successful completion of a comprehensive evaluation, and significant original scholarly work. The anthropology faculty expects that students will complete the requirements for the M.A. degree in two years.

Advisors. Upon admission to the program, the faculty will assign each M.A. student a first-year advisor based on the student’s goals and interest, and on the workload of each faculty member. The first-year advisor will guide the student in forming an education plan that includes appropriate courses and research experiences to accomplish the student’s desired educational outcomes. The first-year advisor will direct the student in formulating their M.A. project plan (see “project plan” below), with assistance from other faculty if necessary. Once the project plan is completed the student will seek to recruit an appropriate M.A. research committee to oversee the project described in the project plan. The student must report their committee membership to the Department’s Administrative Assistant, who will convey it to the Graduate School. The members of the MA research committee will review the student’s progress to that point and the quality of the project plan. This review constitutes the first part of the student’s comprehensive evaluation (see comprehensive evaluation below), and the committee may recommend that the student continue working toward completion of the M.A. project, or may recommend remedial action if indicated.

  1. M.A. Degree Options. There are four ways to complete the requirements for the M.A. degree in Anthropology: the general option, the cultural heritage option, the forensic anthropology option, and the linguistic anthropology option. Each of these options offers a different emphasis, which is reflected in the seminars, elective classes, and scholarly work that is required. Students will graduate with the general option unless they complete the specific requirements of one of the other options.
  2. Thesis/Professional Project and Non-Thesis Plans: All options may be completed by either of two plans:
    • The thesis/professional project plan requires the student complete 30 credits of course work and write and defend a thesis or professional project which will be archived by the library. (Please note, however, in cases where the information provided for the professional project is confidential, the project will not be archived by the library and will be spiral bound by the student for in-house use only.)
    • The non-thesis plan requires the student complete 36 credits of course work, a significant original research work or collection of works that are not a thesis or professional project and a comprehensive examination. Students who complete the degree under the non-thesis plan will not normally be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program.
  3. Core curriculum required for all options: Students must complete the following core requirements and the additional requirements of one of the options in order to earn the Master of Arts degree in Anthropology.
    • Anthropology 500.
    • A total of 1 to 10 credits (6 credits recommended) in ANTH 593, 597, and/or 599, consistent with Graduate School policy (sections C1.000).  Students whose M.A. project plan includes a thesis should take ANTH 599, students whose M.A. project plan includes a professional paper should take ANTH 593, and students choosing the non-thesis plan should take ANTH 597.  At least one methods class numbered 400 or higher.
  4. Project plan. All students must complete a project plan for producing an original scholarly work, such as a thesis, professional paper, exhibit, or portfolio containing an assemblage of shorter works. This should be completed at least two weeks before the Graduate School’s deadline for submitting Applications for Graduation the semester before the student intends to complete their degree. The student’s first year advisor will guide the student in completing their project plan. At a minimum, the project plan should include:
    • The goal of the scholarly work, such as the question(s) to be examined, hypothesis to be tested, or the unifying theme for a portfolio;
    • The materials and methods to be used;
    • A significant bibliographic effort directed toward the scholarly work;
    • If the project will involve working with living human subjects, a completed, but not submitted, University of Montana Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects in Research checklist form;
    • A completed, but not submitted, Graduate School Application for Graduation.
  5. A significant original scholarly work. The student will be guided in this pursuit by an M.A. research committee consisting of three members. The advisor assigned to the student upon admission to the program will normally be the chair of the student’s M.A. research committee. The additional two members of the committee will be chosen by the student in consultation with their advisor and must be consistent with Graduate School policy (section C6.000), including one member who is a University of Montana -- Missoula faculty member from a department outside of Anthropology.

  6. Comprehensive evaluation. All students in the M.A. program must pass a comprehensive evaluation over the field of anthropology (Graduate School policy section C8.000) The comprehensive evaluation will be conducted by the student’s committee. If a student’s evaluation does not meet expectations, the student’s committee may prescribe remedial action.
  7. Total credits commensurate with Graduate School policy (section C1.000). The thesis/professional project plan requires a total of 30 credits.  The non-thesis plan requires 36 credits, including an additional 3 credits beyond those required for any of the M.A. options of 500 or 600 level classes in any discipline (excluding research, professional paper, or thesis credits).