MA in Anthropology

Build on Your Knowledge

The Master of Arts in Anthropology at Colorado State University prepares our students for entrance into a PhD program and for non-academic careers. The program builds on the diverse research interests of our faculty who specialize in cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology as well as human and physical geography. The program options include writing a thesis or developing a portfolio as the principle demonstration of their preparedness for further study or professional work.


Our faculty are accessible and active mentors who will encourage MA students to engage meaningfully in research. Graduates of our program will leave with training and skills that can be leveraged in both academic and non-academic settings.


Highly qualified candidates may receive one year of funding in the form of graduate teaching assistantships that cover the cost of tuition and provide a monthly stipend. All incoming students are automatically considered for an assistantship; no separate form is necessary. Seed grants for graduate research are provided by the Anthropology Scholarship Endowment on a competitive basis, and Student Research Scholarships are available to support research and conference travel.

Application Instructions

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Admissions Form
  • Statement of Purpose (1-2 pages, single-spaced text)
    • See instructions below.
  • Resume
  • Copies of transcripts from each college/university attended
    • Previous institutions should submit official transcripts to CSU using institution code 4075.
    • Students can submit unofficial transcripts with their application. However, official transcripts must be provided within the first semester before the student can register for their second semester of graduate work. Admission may be rescinded due to non-compliance.
  • OPTIONAL: GRE General Test scores
    • Scores must be less than five years old.
    • The testing agency should submit scores to CSU using institution code 4075.
  • Writing sample
    • Select an example of academic writing that shows your capacity for rigorous analysis and independent thought as well as your writing skills. MA/MS theses, published papers on which you are the lead author, and term papers are all acceptable.
  • Two letters of recommendation 
    • Letters from prior faculty familiar with your academic record are preferred.
    • Letters should be submitted electronically by the authors.
    • A third letter of recommendation is optional.
  • Recent TOEFL or Academic IELTS scores
    • Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than or in addition to English.
    • These are required of all applicants whose native language is not English or who have not received a Bachelors or MA/MS degree from an accredited college or university where the primary language of instruction is English. See CSU's English Proficiency guidelines for additional information.

The application deadline for the MA program in Anthropology is January 15 for the fall semester of the same year. Late applications will not be accepted and new students are accepted for the fall semester only. Application materials and instructions are available on the CSU Graduate School website.

Applicants to the MA program in Anthropology must upload all supporting documents to their online applications via the Graduate School. Please do not send any materials directly to the Department of Anthropology and Geography.

The Statement of Purpose

We use the statement of purpose to assess the fit between applicants’ research interests and our program, as well as their potential for successfully completing a MA. In addition, applicants must describe their research interests in ways that make clear their fit with the program and identify the faculty with whom they would like to work.

Applicants are required to contact relevant faculty to discuss their interests prior to submitting an application. NOTE: Teaching professors and instructors do not supervise graduate students. Please visit faculty pages to verify professors' titles. Applicants may also may wish to visit CSU before applying, which is welcomed but not required.

The statement should be between one and two pages in length, single-spaced text.

Program Requirements

Core Course – one required class (3 credits)

  • Development of Anthropological Theory

Methods Courses – 3-4 credits (one or more courses) that are relevant to the student’s research (3-4 credits) 

  • If an outside course: one additional regular, graduate-level ANTH course


  • Select at least three credits in a 500 - 700 level anthropology course outside the student's subfield of specialization (archaeology, socio-cultural or biological anthropology) in consultation with advisor.
  • One course (3 credits) outside the department.

Additional credits for independent study or thesis work

  • Independent Study (6 credits maximum)
    • For portfolio option, 3 credits minimum
  • Thesis (6 credits maximum)
    • No thesis credits allowed for portfolio option

Minimum of 18 credits of the total taken must be regular ANTH courses

Graduate School course requirements

  • Minimum of 24 credits must be earned at CSU; 21 credits must be earned after admission to Graduate School
  • Minimum of 16 credits in graduate courses >500; 12 credits must be in regular number courses
  • MA students can count 300 and 400 level courses in program of study
  • Credits proposed for transfer must be at the equivalent level of CSU’s regular courses at the 500 level or above.

The Student Handbook describes the policies, procedures, and program requirements for students who are enrolled in the MA Program at CSU

Anthropology and Geography Master's Student Handbook (PDF)

Areas of Specialization (Optional)

Health and Well-Being

Specialization examining how human health and wellness are influenced by socioculturalenvironmental, and biological forces.
Plan A | Plan B

Professional Methods and Techniques

Specialization designed to provide students the skills needed for academic careers in anthropology, qualitative survey and social science research, field excavation, cultural resource management, natural resource management, GIS and spatial analysis, and/or public interpretation.
Plan A | Plan B

Humans and the Environment

Specialization looking at how human activities, past and present, influence the environment and how ecological processes affect human evolution and the human condition today
Plan A | Plan B

International Development

Specialization focused on the issues of food security, environmental and economic sustainability, and paths to economic growth and human achievement.
Plan A | Plan B

Interdisciplinary Studies Program in Resilience of Social Ecological Systems

Specialization concentrated on environmental knowledge and the framework of resilience for solving linked social and ecological problems.

Contact Graduate Coordinator for More Information