This is an archive of the 2015-2016 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit

This is an archive of the 2015-2016 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit


Program: M.A., Anthropology

General Anthropology


The General Anthropology Option emphasizes broad training in three fields of anthropology (archaeology, biological anthropology and human evolution, and cultural anthropology) while offering students some flexibility in degree planning and requirements. The General Anthropology Option is particularly well-suited for students who wish to enter a Ph.D. program in anthropology but may not have the preparation necessary to enter 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 General Anthropology Option are required to take seminars in socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, physical anthropology and anthropological theory. In addition, students take elective courses to fit with their area of specialization. Students complete their degrees either by passing a series of comprehensive exams or writing a thesis. Students who wish 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 general master’s option in Anthropology 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.

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

A. Classified Status

  1. General University requirements for classified status. For those whose cumulative undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, the department requires a minimum of the 50th percentile on at least two sections at the Graduate Record Exam.
  2. Bachelor’s degree with a major in Anthropology that includes coursework in three subfields (archaeology, biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology), method and theory. Anthropology majors without comprehensive coursework may be required to take additional coursework to be determined in consultation with the graduate advisor.
  3. Students without a major in Anthropology, who meet University standards for admission to Graduate Studies, need to fulfill certain prerequisites in Anthropology. These may be determined in consultation with the graduate advisor.
  4. MATH 140 or equivalent.
  5. ANTH 474 or 475 or equivalent, to be determined in consultation with the graduate advisor depending on the students’ area of specialization (required after Fall 2008).
  6. ANTH 303 or equivalent.

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.

1. Seven Required Graduate Seminars in Anthropology (19 units)

2. Electives (12 units)

Four approved electives at the 400-, 500- and 600-level.

3. Culminating Experience (2 units)

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

ANTH 698 Thesis (2)*

*Upon authorization of thesis advisor and graduate advisor.

b. Comprehensive Exam Option

ANTH 697 Directed Comprehensive Studies (2)

The comprehensive examination is open to all students.
 In order to choose the thesis option, students must score a “B+” 
or above in 696A and 696B and maintain a 3.5 GPA in their Anthropology coursework. Students scoring “B” or below in
 696A and/or 696B and those whose GPA drops below 3.5 for more than one semester will be directed to take the comprehensive

4. Research Skill

Proficiency in research skill demonstrated by successful completion of one of the following:

  1. One Upper Division Geographic Information Systems course.
  2. One Upper Division statistics course chosen in consultation with department advisor.
  3. Foreign Language Proficiency Exam.
  4. Other appropriate coursework as approved by the graduate advisor.

5. Adherence to department policies regarding GPA minimum maintenance and advising (see below).

C. Comments on Graduate Coursework

  1. Students choosing the comprehensive examination track must 
complete ANTH 601, 602, 603 and 606 before taking the comprehensive examinations.
  2. Students taking the comprehensive exams must enroll in ANTH 
697 course the semester they take the exams.
  3. Enrollment in ANTH 698: Students must be authorized by their thesis advisor and the graduate advisor in order to enroll in 698.
  4. Thesis GPA 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

More information

If you would like more information about this program, please contact


Chair: Cathy L. Costin
Sierra Hall (SH) 232
(818) 677-3331

Graduate Coordinator: Kimberly Kirner
(818) 677-5839

Student Learning Outcomes

Students completing the master’s degree program in Anthropology should be able to:

  1. Analyze characteristics of human 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. Analyze the concept of culture as a fundamental principle in anthropology.
  5. Analyze the causes and consequences of cultural diversity, social inequalities and change in human societies.
  6. Analyze anthropological theories and paradigms, how they have changed over time, and how they are applied to explain fundamental aspects of the human condition, such as cultural diversity and social change.
  7. Independently conceptualize, collect, describe, analyze and interpret anthropological evidence according to generally accepted professional practice.
  8. Analyze ethics as they pertain to 21st century anthropology.
  9. Examine how anthropology may be used to engage in contemporary issues.
  10. Communicate effectively using anthropological standards.
  11. Synthesize and evaluate current issues and debates in the subfields of anthropology.