Anthropology M.A. Program at Western Washington University
Graduate Program Director:
Dr. Sean Bruna
Medical Anthropology Lab
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Anthropology
Western's Anthropology Department faculty cover a diverse range of specializations within the traditional four fields of anthropology with a geographic emphasis on the Pacific Rim. 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. Recent theses have focused on issues such as homelessness, health, human rights, language identity, and immigration in communities locally, regionally, and abroad. Archaeology theses typically focus on the Pacific Northwest, taking advantage of legacy collections held by the department.
View past theses topics using CEDAR: Western's Repository
*Note* there is no GRE requirement for application to the Anthropology MA program.
About the Department of Anthropology
The Department of Anthropology at Western Washington University offers a graduate program leading to an M.A. degree in Anthropology. The relatively small size of our Department enables us to work closely with students on projects and maintain a supportive atmosphere. We are pleased that our MAs are competitive in the job market with the majority employed in their fields or enrolled in PhD programs.
Western’s Anthropology Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the largest college at WWU. The department maintains a four-field anthropology program and has 8 full-time Tenured or Tenure Track Faculty with active research labs (Primate Evolution Lab, the Osteology Lab, the Medical Anthropology Lab, the Archaeology Lab, and the Epigenetics Lab), teaching an average of 1,050 student credit hours per FTE annually. The Department graduates an average of 100 undergraduate students annually, with approximately 167 students in the major across the Anthropology B.S. and B.A. major tracks (average 2018-2020). The active M.A. research program has approximately 30 graduate students, many of which are on active research grants. Students graduating from the Department frequently continue to M.A. and Ph.D. programs, jobs in Cultural Resource Management, health sciences, and a variety of other fields. Read about recent departmental and alumni news in the Anthropology Newsletter.
Program of Graduate Study
The Master of Arts in Anthropology program covers a diverse range of specializations within anthropology. 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. Recent theses have focused on topics such as homelessness and supportive housing, diabetes prevention in rural communities, human rights, language identity, and immigration in communities locally, regionally, and abroad. Archaeology theses typically focus on the Pacific Northwest, taking advantage of legacy collections held by the department. Thesis research in the department has covered a broad spectrum of topics reflecting the strengths and interests of the Anthropology Graduate Faculty. Please review the faculty directory to learn about faculty research.
Each student develops a flexible course of study individually arranged to meet their specific needs and objectives. One major professor and two other faculty members comprise the thesis committee and serve to direct and advise the graduate student in research and writing the results of the thesis topic. Faculty in related departments such as History, Public Health or Political Science may serve on thesis committees, enabling graduate students to pursue interdisciplinary research.
Graduate Courses in Anthropology
The Anthropology Program offers a variety of specialty graduate courses. The core graduate curriculum features courses that provide training in teaching, developing and proposing research, data analysis and writing findings. Anthropology courses are listed in the course catalog under the Anthropology MA Program of Study.
Other courses may be taken from supporting disciplines such as Public Health, Political Science and Environmental Studies. Please review the WWU Catalog for a complete listing of graduate courses available on campus.
Admission and Application Procedure
There are no prerequisites for admission to the MA program, though we usually accept graduate students with previous specialization in anthropology or related fields. Incoming graduate students are expected to have course preparation that is equivalent to the basic B.A. or B.S. degree in Anthropology as described in the University Catalog. Deficiencies in these areas, for example needing statistics or qualitative research methods, are addressed by coursework completed during the degree.
The deadline for each academic year is January 15th.
Complete applications received by the January 15 deadline will be given full consideration. Applications received after the deadline will only be reviewed on a space-available-basis. Please note: Applications will not be forwarded to the department for review until all required materials have been received by the Graduate School, so please apply early and ensure your application is complete and submitted by the deadline.
The application includes:
- WWU Graduate School Application
- $100.00 Application Fee (students with financial need that are seeking application waivers should contact the graduate school at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- Unofficial Transcripts. Official Transcripts are not required until you are admitted to the program.
- Three (3) Letters of Reference
- Statement of Purpose
- Requested Funding Options:
- Graduate Teaching Assistantship: Be sure to check the box on your application if you are interested in a TA position.
- Work Study: Be sure to complete a FAFSA and select yes on question 32.
- GRE scores are not required by our department.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider potential advisors and their expertise before applying. The application and all application materials are submitted via the online application at the Graduate School.
International applicants are encouraged to submit their applications early since applications require additional processing time for international transcript evaluation and visa applications. Additional information is available at the Graduate School webpage for international applicants. International applicants are also encouraged to contact International Student Scholar Services regarding student support and scholarships.
The department and university offer a variety of opportunities for graduate student funding. Details are provided on our (Graduate Student Funding Opportunities Page—page linked).