This is an archive of the 2020-2021 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit

This is an archive of the 2020-2021 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit


Program: M.A., Anthropology

Program Description

The Anthropology master’s program emphasizes broad training in four fields of anthropology (archaeology, biological anthropology and human evolution, cultural anthropology and applied anthropology), while offering students some flexibility in degree planning and requirements. The master’s in Anthropology is particularly well-suited for students who want to enter a Ph.D. program in anthropology but may not have the preparation necessary to enroll in such a program directly; teach in the community colleges; or establish a career in a field that utilizes anthropological methods, theory and/or data. All students in the program are required to take seminars in sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, physical anthropology and anthropological theory. In addition, students take elective courses to fit with their area of specialization. They complete their degrees either by passing a series of comprehensive exams or by writing a thesis. Those who want to teach anthropology at the community college level are encouraged, but not required, to choose the comprehensive exam alternative. Students who plan to enter a Ph.D. program in Anthropology are strongly encouraged to write the thesis. Students who plan other anthropology-related careers (e.g., museum work, public folklore, etc.) will decide between the examination and thesis alternatives in consultation with the graduate advisor.

Program Requirements

The M.A. in Anthropology program offers two tracks for students; one is directed toward a thesis, the other toward a comprehensive examination covering either three subdisciplines or two subdisciplines and a geographical or topical area. See comments below for important information about certain 600-level courses.

A. Admission to the Program

All entering students must complete the following for admission to classified status in the program:

Please note that in some cases the department requirements for admission are more stringent than the University requirements. The department will determine whether a student meets the additional requirements needed for admittance into the Anthropology graduate program.

  1. Completion of minimum University requirement for admission to graduate standing.
  2. Either (a) B.A. in Anthropology with coursework that includes introductory courses in archaeology, biological anthropology and sociocultural anthropology; anthropological theory (equivalent to ANTH 303); and anthropological methods (equivalent to ANTH 473 or ANTH 475). Students with a cumulative GPA lower than 3.0 must score at or above the 50th percentile on two of the three portions of the aptitude test of the Graduate Record Exam. Or (b) Completion of the CSUN Certificate in Foundations of Anthropological Knowledge or the Certificate in Foundations of Archaeological Knowledge with a GPA of 3.3 or higher.
  3. Two-page written statement by applicant indicating research and career objectives.
  4. Resume or curriculum vitae.
  5. Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for success in graduate studies.
  6. Demonstration of research and writing skills. Applicants must submit to the graduate committee a sample research paper, written in English, and preferably one that was completed as part of the baccalaureate degree requirements, such as a senior thesis or other research paper done in an upper division undergraduate or graduate course. Because of the importance of research and writing to the graduate program, the committee needs to be assured of applicants’ abilities and promise in these areas.
  7. Exceptional cases that may not meet all the given requirements for admission will be considered by the graduate committee on petition by the applicant. Specific reasons for the waiver of any of the requirements must be offered in the applicant’s personal statement.

B. Degree Requirements

Minimum of 33 units of approved graduate work consisting of at least 27 units in anthropology and 24 units at the 500- and 600-level. An appropriate course of study is determined with the graduate advisor.

1. Required Graduate Seminars in Anthropology (19 units)

2. Methods (3-4 units)

Choose one of the following:

ANTH 445/L Human Osteology and Lab (3/1)
ANTH 519 Seminar in Archaeological Theory and Method (3)
ANTH 574 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Anthropology (3)
ANTH 575 Advanced Ethnographic Research Methods (3)
Other 400-600-level methods course (with graduate advisor consent)

3. Electives (9 units)

Three approved electives at the 400-, 500- and 600-level chosen with the approval of the graduate advisor.

4. Culminating Experience (2-3 units)

Satisfactory completion of a graduate thesis, project or comprehensive examination.
a. Thesis

ANTH 698C Thesis (3)*

*Upon authorization of thesis advisor and graduate advisor.

b. Comprehensive Exam

ANTH 697 Directed Comprehensive Studies (2)

Note Regarding Culminating Experience: The comprehensive examination is open to all students. In order to choose the thesis, students must score a “B+” or above in ANTH 696A and ANTH 696B and maintain a 3.5 GPA in their Anthropology coursework. Additionally, students must successfully convene a committee of three faculty members who will oversee the student’s thesis. Students scoring “B” or below in ANTH 696A or ANTH 696B, those whose GPA drops below 3.5 for more than one semester, and those who cannot successfully convene a committee will be directed to take the comprehensive examination.

5. Adherence to Department Policies Regarding GPA Minimum Maintenance and Advising (See Above).

C. Comments on Graduate Coursework

  1. Students who choose the comprehensive examination track must complete ANTH 500, ANTH 602, ANTH 603 and ANTH 606 before taking the comprehensive examination.
  2. Students who take the comprehensive exam must enroll in ANTH 697 the semester they take the exam.
  3. Enrollment in ANTH 698C: Students must be authorized by their thesis advisor and the graduate advisor to enroll in ANTH 698C.
  4. Thesis GPA and Topic Policy: Students are required to have a minimum 3.5 GPA at the point of forming their thesis committee and receiving thesis topic approval in order to write an M.A. thesis.

Total Units Required for the M.A. Degree: 33-35


Department of Anthropology
Chair: Suzanne Scheld
Sierra Hall (SH) 232
(818) 677-3331

Graduate Coordinator: Cathy Costin
(818) 677-3324

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze human experiences and the causes and consequences of cultural diversity across space and time from an anthropological perspective.
  2. Analyze the evolutionary process particularly as it relates to primate and specifically hominin evolution.
  3. Analyze biological and behavioral variation among human and nonhuman primates in context.
  4. Discuss and analyze the foundational concept of culture and core theories in anthropology and their applications to the field.
  5. Independently conceptualize, collect, describe, analyze, interpret and communicate anthropological evidence according to generally accepted professional practice and ethics.
  6. Examine how anthropology can be used to engage in contemporary issues and can be applied toward addressing social problems.