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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to the MA Program?
Applications must be submitted to the Hunter College Graduate Admissions Office. There are two deadlines, generally November 1 and March 1, for the Spring and Fall semesters respectively. Candidates must submit a completed application (including a statement about their educational and professional plans), recent Graduate Record Examination scores, transcripts from all undergraduate or graduate institutions they have attended, and two letters of recommendation, preferably from professors who have had them as students. All of this material must be sent to the Admissions Office, not to the Anthropology Department.

What does an effective application statement contain?
There is no single format for an application statement. However, you should be aware that the main objective of the statement is to persuade the Admissions Committee that you will perform well as a graduate student. It is generally a good idea to indicate why you are interested in the field or how you became interested in it, what kinds of intellectual issues you find most exciting, and why those issues could be usefully be explored in the Program. If possible, say something about your professional goals and demonstrate that there is a good "fit" between your interests and those of the Hunter Anthropology faculty. If there are questions about your background that you feel need clarification, the application statement is probably the place to do it. For example, if your grades during your undergraduate years were not very good, you might want to point out that you subsequently took two graduate anthropology courses at another institution and received grades of "A" or that your experience after graduating from college has given you a new commitment to studying hard.

I became interested in anthropology after I completed my BA, so I don't have an undergraduate background in the field. May I still apply to the MA Program?
Candidates admitted to the Program generally have strong undergraduate backgrounds in anthropology. Occasionally, however, a strong background in a related field may be considered sufficient. For example, undergraduate biology majors who want to study biological anthropology or sociology or history majors who want to study cultural anthropology might be accepted into the Program if their overall records appear promising.

Can I take MA Program courses as a non-matriculated student?
Those interested in taking one or a few MA-level courses but not interested in pursuing a degree occasionally come to Hunter as non-matriculated students. In addition, the Anthropology Admissions Committee occasionally recommends that candidates who seem promising but who lack a strong anthropology background come to Hunter first as non-matriculated students. These students can then deepen their knowledge of the field and get to know the faculty. After one or two semesters (and a maximum of nine credits, with grades of "B" or better), they may apply for full matriculation. These credits may then be applied to the MA degree.

What kind of financial aid is available for students in the MA Program?
Full-time graduate students may be eligible for some financial aid and/or work-study jobs from the College, New York State or other sources. Part-time students usually have fewer financial aid options. All students in need of financial aid should stop by the Hunter College Office of Administrative and Information Services (OASIS) located in 217 Hunter North Building or visit the Office of Financial Aid website.

The Foundation Center is a specialized library and resource center which may provide leads to information about grants for study and research. It it located at 79 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003. Tel: (212) 620-4230(212) 620-4230.

The Hunter College Anthropology Department provides small tuition scholarships. Each year it also provides small grants on a competitive basis to assist students in their training or their master's thesis research.

If I study part-time, how long do I have to complete the degree?
MA candidates normally complete the Program in two years if there are no interruptions in their studies. The total time for completing all degree requirements from the time of matriculation is four years. Students who exceed this limit have to fill out a time extension form, which must be signed and stamped by the graduate advisor and approved by the Dean.

I work full-time and have a family. Is it still possible for me to enter and finish the Program?
Many MA Program students have significant work and family responsibilities. All MA-level courses are held in the evening in order to make it possible for students who work to attend. Students with full-time jobs and/or family obligations may find that they have to study part-time, but they can still successfully complete the Program.

I need to interrupt my studies for a while in order to attend to other business. What should I do?
The College requires that you submit a leave of absence petition if you plan to take a semester or more off from your studies. For a leave of absence form, see

How should I choose what courses to take?
The four required courses are offered each year and it is generally a good idea to complete them early in your course of study. Some special topic courses are offered only every few years or on a one-time basis. If there is a special topic course that greatly interests you, it is probably a good idea to take it, since it may not be offered again for some time. Towards the end of your course of study, you may wish to register for an independent study course or the thesis research course. Both of these courses require that you reach an agreement with a faculty supervisor about the work to be completed for the course. Students should decide which courses to take in consultation with the graduate advisor and other faculty members.

What is the procedure for obtaining approval and registering for courses?
All students must obtain approval from the graduate advisor to take MA-level anthropology courses. Once the appropriate approval codes are entered in the central CUNY computer, students may register by telephone, following the instructions provided by OASIS.

May I request course approvals from the Graduate Advisor by telephone?
It is recommended that students seeking course approvals submit their requests only in writing. This can be in the form of an e-mail message. Such requests must include the student's full name, ID number ("employee ID"), and the title, number and code for each course. Please do not leave telephone messages, since these are frequently incomplete and/or difficult to understand.

Can I take courses outside of Hunter and receive credit towards my Hunter MA?
Students may receive up to nine transfer credits towards the MA degree for courses taken at other institutions. They must seek approval for such courses before enrolling in them, although students who have taken graduate courses elsewhere before matriculating at Hunter may request transfer credit. Such requests should include syllabi, catalog description, a transcript of grades, and term papers or other work for each course.

Students who wish to take courses at other CUNY campuses must request an e-permit from OASIS. The permit has to be approved by the department chair and by the appropriate official at the other CUNY campus.

Can I take courses during the summer?
The MA Program only occasionally offers courses during the summer. Some students receive credit during the summer, however, for participation in field schools or, less commonly, for independent study or thesis research courses. These require that a faculty supervisor is available during the summer and willing to supervise the course.

What is the required foreign language test?
The language examination is intended to assure that master's degree candidates have a reading knowledge of a language other than English which is sufficient for them to use that language in scholarly work. This means that the candidate should be able to read the language easily, with only minor reliance on a dictionary, and should be able to translate academic prose into idiomatic (not necessarily literal) English. A candidate may request an examination in a language that has a significant scholarly literature or that would be useful in his/her field research; in recent years, students have taken examinations in Bulgarian, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

The examination usually requires the student to translate approximately one printed page into English. There is no time limit and the student may use a dictionary. The student should strive for a fluid translation; it should be publishable prose in English. A student should not take the language examination until he/she is very confident of passing. The CUNY Graduate Center offers foreign language reading courses (non-credit) for students who wish to brush up on or learn a language.

A native speaker of a language other than English is not exempt from the requirement, since he/she must also demonstrate a high level of competence in translating the language into English. The Department will only waive the language examination under very unusual circumstances; a student who is a native speaker and who has documentation of significant post-secondary education in the language may apply for a waiver. Even in such cases, however, waiver applications are not granted automatically.

Language examinations are given on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Students may contact the Graduate Advisor to arrange for an examination.

What kind of statistics examination or course may I take in lieu of the foreign language requirement?
Students who wish to demonstrate competence in quantitative methods in lieu of knowledge of a foreign language may take a statistics course, with prior approval of the Anthropology Graduate Advisor, or request to be examined by the Department.

What kind of research opportunities are available to students in the MA Program?
MA Program students frequently participate in summer field schools and faculty research projects. Many also develop their own projects as part of their master's thesis research.

Who will be my faculty advisor in the Program?
While the graduate advisor may provide advice about curricular matters, students with concerns about their areas of specialization should consult with other faculty members expert in those areas. All students also have to select an advisor for their master's thesis, preferably one who is knowledgeable about the topic of their research. Only full-time permanent faculty can act as thesis advisors. It is important to take courses and work closely with the faculty member you wish to be your advisor. Faculty may be reluctant to take on the time-consuming role of supervising a thesis unless they have some prior experience with the student.

What are "office hours" and how do I find out when a particular professor has office hours?  Office hours are blocks of time that faculty members reserve for one-on-one or small group conversations with students. No appointment is required. It is important that students speak with faculty members outside of class and office hours are a good time to do this. Most professors post their current office hours on their Hunter websites. Please check the website of a faculty member with whom you wish to speak for this information before you email or call her or him. Email or call only if the information on the website is not current. And remember that faculty members are usually pleased to make an appointment with you if their office hours are at a time when you are unable to meet.

When should I start thinking about a master's thesis topic? How do I choose a topic and an advisor for my master's thesis?
A master's thesis is a significant undertaking, but it is not generally as extensive as a doctoral dissertation. You should always be thinking about, making lists of, and collecting material on topics that you find intellectually exciting. You should try to frame an appropriate thesis topic, in consultation with one or more faculty members, at least one semester (and preferably more) before you intend to graduate.

What kinds of courses and other work are necessary for completing a good master's thesis?
A thesis is supposed to be based on original research. It is usually a good idea to be familiar with appropriate research methods and research design skills for the issue on which you intend to work. This background could be obtained through taking a research methods course or other similar training. The Anthropology Department has a set of Guidelines for the Preparation of the Master's Thesis.

What is Anthropology 706, the Master's Thesis Seminar, and when do I have to take it?                        Anthropology 706 is an independent study course that you take with your thesis advisor. It is not a seminar in the usual sense of the word, with a single instructor and regular meetings for all enrolled students. Anthropology 706 is not a required course; it simply allows students to obtain three credits towards the M.A. degree for researching and writing the thesis. If you do decide to take Anthropology 706, you should only do so if you are confident that you will finish the thesis in the semester you register for it. Otherwise you will receive an incomplete. There are other independent study courses (Anthropology 785 and 786) that you may also take with your advisor (or another faculty member) and use to pursue your thesis research or another topic that interests you. The advantage of these courses over 706 is that the final product could be a thesis chapter or some other product that your advisor and you agree on. All of these independent study courses require approval from the Graduate Advisor and from the faculty member supervising the course.

I've finished all my course work, but not my thesis. Do I still have to register?
If you are not registered for any courses but are completing other degree requirements, you must register to maintain matriculation (and must pay a maintenance fee). A student must be registered for the semester of graduation but need not register for any semester during which no work is done toward graduation. The student must submit a Maintenance of Matriculation form.

What kind of careers are available to people with a MA degree in anthropology?
The American Anthropological Association home page has a wide variety of information on careers. See also the Careers in Anthropology page for additional links.

Will the MA Program at Hunter prepare me for entering a PhD program in anthropology?
The Hunter College MA Program provides solid training for students who intend to enter doctoral programs. Our graduates have an excellent record of obtaining admission and fellowships at top programs.

Can I go directly from the Hunter College MA Program to the PhD Program in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center?
Many MA Program students hope to continue their training in the PhD Program in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. This is not automatic, however. The PhD Program has a separate admissions committee and different admissions criteria. In recent years, many, but not all, applicants with Hunter MA degrees have been accepted by the PhD Program.

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