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Graduate Program in Anthropology

The fundamental goals of the Hunter College Master's Program in Anthropology are to provide a first-class graduate-level grounding in the basics of anthropology and an extensive exposure to advanced research. We remain committed to providing a level of Master's training second to none.

Today, humanity faces issues of growing complexity, at both the local and global levels. From climate change to violence, racial injustice to economic inequality, the world is at once more integrated and more fractured than at any time in recent memory.  The Department of Anthropology at Hunter College is uniquely positioned to face these challenges given its fundamentally interdisciplinary, historical, cross-cultural, and evolutionary perspective. As anthropologists we strive to understand and find solutions to pressing as well as long-neglected issues through our scholarship, teaching, and public engagement. We train our students to acquire imaginative, flexible, and sensitive eyes and minds to analyze what is invisible and unspoken, to develop the ability to draw links between the local and the global, and to become engaged citizens.

The Department of Anthropology maintains its century-long tradition of introducing students and the wider community to the most significant contributions anthropologists have made to the study of humanity through research and teaching in the four subfields––cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology.
We believe that current and future advances in the discipline require an understanding of the cultural, biological, and historical roots of human behavior. We seek to advance the discipline’s understanding of what it means to be human through a holistic program of intellectual inquiry and practice that engages with the central questions of our time.

The faculty today research a wide range of critical issues drawing on the findings, methodologies, and theoretical approaches of the four subfields. These issues include the growing inequalities in the distribution of food, the origins of complex social formations, state- and non-state-sponsored violence, large-scale dislocations and migrations, climate change and its consequences, the evolution of our species, nutrition and disease, and the human rights of vulnerable populations. In our classes, laboratories, and field sites, students study the choices different populations have made—over time and under different environmental, social, and cultural conditions—in response to, or as agents of, changing technologies, new forms of knowledge, and contradictory global connections.

Through a combination of classroom, laboratory, and field experiences, we train students to conduct sophisticated empirical research on both the molecular and global scale. In some cases their projects take them back in time over tens of thousands, even millions, of years to the days of our hominin ancestors. In others they remain in the present and focus on some of the social, economic and environmental challenges that are transforming the lives of people today in almost every part of the world. In this way anthropology as a field of inquiry remains exciting, engaged, and relevant to how we understand where we as a species have been, where we are today, and where we may head in the future.


Graduate Program Overview

A substantial background in cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, anthropological archaeology, and linguistics offers students the training required to go forward to make important contributions in their subsequent careers, whether in academia, the private sector, or government service.

Most MA courses are offered in the evening session beginning at 5:30 pm. This includes all of our required courses in each of the subfields.

Students more explicitly focused in biological anthropology typically work in a lab-based environment on their MA project. Labs normally operate during typical business hours, according to the needs of the laboratory and its supervisors.

A list of our courses being offered in a particular semester can be found on our website: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/anthropology/courses

The Department encourages the involvement of graduate students in ongoing research, when appropriate, and in directing independent student-initiated research projects. The Department further emphasizes the development of scholarly writing skills and, in concert with College policy, we encourage writing and research assignments in all courses.

 

Admissions Policy

Admissions are administered by the College's Graduate Admissions Office: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/graduateadmissions

Admission to the MA in Anthropology is based on a personal statement, student transcripts, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores. Many applicants, for example, have little or no previous experience in anthropology, or may hold graduate degrees in related fields. Such evidence of previous academic success generally carries considerable weight. For applicants who have been out of school for some time, the nature of job experience is clearly important (for example, some students have current or previous employment with the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, the American Museum of Natural History, and similar institutions).

Before applying to the program, students are strongly encouraged to acquaint themselves with the faculty and their ongoing work by consulting faculty websites (http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/anthropology/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty). Faculty are most qualified to supervise students that have interests similar to their own. The best way to see if the Department of Anthropology is the best match for you is to read the work of the faculty members with whom you think you may be interested in working. You are encouraged to contact our faculty to discuss your interest in the department. Faculty are eager to supervise studies that fall within their areas of expertise.

 

CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY: In cultural anthropology, our faculty have the following expertise:

Agrarian Studies (Edelman)
Anthropology of Education (Hodges)
Diaspora and Transnationalism (Brown)
Economic Anthropology (Edelman)
Gender (Brown)
Human Rights (Edelman, Hodges, Koga)
Legal Anthropology (Coleman, Koga)
Medical Anthropology (Susser)
Middle East Studies (Shannon)
Migration and Refugees (Shannon)
Music, Art, Ethnomusicology (Shannon)
Political Anthropology (Coleman, Edelman, Koga, Susser)
Postcolonial Studies (Coleman, Koga, Shannon)
Prison Education and Reform (Hodges)
Race and Nation, including US race relations (Brown, Hodges)
Religion (Shannon)
Social Movements (Edelman)
Technology (Coleman)
Urban Anthropology (Brown, Coleman, Koga, Susser)

 

ARCHAEOLOGY: In archaeology, our faculty focus broadly on:

New York City (Parry)
The Near East (Johnson)
Complex Societies (Johnson)
Early Agriculture (Parry)
Environmental Archeology (McGovern)
Lithic Technology (Parry)
Mesoamerica (Parry)
Zooarcheology (McGovern)
Historical Ecology & Climate Change (McGovern)
The North Atlantic and Circumpolar North (McGovern)

 

LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY: Please note that we have one full-time faculty member that specializes in linguistic anthropology, Christina Zarcodoolas, who specializes in the following areas:

Sociolinguistics
Health Literature
Language and Public Health
Language and Technology

 

BIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY: In biological anthropology, our training is explicitly from an evolutionary perspective. We specialize in the following areas:

Primate and Human Evolution (Gilbert, Pontzer, Steiper)
Primate Ecology and Behavior (Baden, Rothman)
Primate Conservation (Baden, Rothman)
Primate and Human Energetics (Pontzer, Rothman)
Primate and Human Locomotion (Pontzer)
Primate and Human Genetics (Baden, Steiper)

Students interested in biological anthropology are especially encouraged to contact faculty in these specialties before applying. We are particularly interested in mentoring students that cross these multiple perspectives within biological anthropology. Please note that we do not have any courses or faculty that specialize in forensic anthropology.

 

 

Advising and The Master's Thesis

The Graduate Advisor is the main point of contact for incoming students and can advise the students on the requirements of the program, administrative necessities, and course planning.

All students must meet with the Graduate Advisor during their first semester to begin the process of selecting a primary thesis advisor. In biological anthropology, thesis advisors are assigned to students at the time of application. For other subfields, students must choose a thesis advisor from the full-time faculty members in the department to advise their MA projects.

Students are expected to start thinking about their MA thesis projects from day one in the program. By the second semester the student should have an idea of her/his thesis project, and should ask a faculty member to supervise the project. Please be strategic in choosing courses: taking classes is the best way for students to get to know the faculty members and vice versa. Developing a productive working relationship with the faculty is key to successfully completing the thesis. Working with a student is by mutual agreement and the faculty member must accept to supervise the student. The student and thesis advisor together select a second reader (not necessarily from the Hunter faculty or from the Anthropology Department) when the work reaches the first draft stage if not before.

 

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