M.A. Degree

THE LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY SUBFIELD IS PAUSING ADMISSIONS FOR ONE YEAR (students applying to start in Fall 2023). Students who were planning to apply in Linguistic Anthropology should reach out to faculty in the subfield (as well as other subfields, if appropriate) about the possibility of applying in related subfields, if this reflects the proposed course of research.


The Department of Anthropology offers the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Anthropology. The M.A. is not offered as a terminal degree and is considered to be a step on the path to the Ph.D. Initial admission to the graduate program is thus offered only to applicants intending to pursue the Ph.D.

Students entering the graduate program with a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree in any field are expected to fulfill all requirements for the M.A. degree in 2 years (6 quarters). Students entering the graduate program with an M.A. degree must complete a student review by the department faculty for advancement into the Ph.D. program (see Ph.D Degree Requirements).

The Master of Arts degree requires students to demonstrate a broad knowledge of anthropology and be capable of original work in one special field.  In the sixth quarter of academic residence, the student’s three-member committee will make a recommendation to the faculty regarding the award of the master’s degree and continuation for the Ph.D degree.

Academic advising for graduate students in the department is primarily conducted on an individual basis by a student’s faculty adviser. The department’s graduate adviser is primarily responsible for counseling students in regard to program requirements, policies, and university regulations. Upon admission, students will be assigned both a primary and a secondary first-year adviser.

Student progress is periodically reviewed at faculty meetings. Students entering the program without a master’s degree are expected to be evaluated no later than their sixth quarter (spring quarter of their second year). At the Student Review Meeting, which occurs once per academic quarter, the full faculty evaluates the student’s progress in the M.A. program: formation and endorsement of the master’s capstone/thesis committee; completion of core courses; advancement to master’s candidacy; and the result, or progress towards completion of, the capstone research paper or thesis. Possible outcomes of the Student Review for students completing the M.A. en route to the Ph.D. are: a) award the M.A. degree and continuation to the Ph.D. program; b) a one-quarter extension to complete degree requirements; c) award the M.A. degree without continuation to the Ph.D. program (recommendation for academic disqualification from the Ph.D. program); and d) recommend the student for academic disqualification from the Ph.D. program without award of the M.A. degree. All students are notified in writing the outcome of the faculty discussion concerning the award of the M.A. degree, continuation to the doctoral program, or degree progress.

The minimum course load is 12 units per quarter. However, this may be waived for good cause by petition, with the approval of the student’s committee chair and the department chair. Students must be registered and enrolled at all times unless on an official leave of absence.

The M.A. degree requires 10 courses (40 units) taken for a letter grade, with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average. 24 of the required 40 units must be graduate level courses (200 series). Eight units of 596 taken for a letter grade may be applied toward the total M.A. course requirement, but only four of these eight units are applicable to the 24 unit minimum graduate-course requirement. Courses taken on an S/U basis, Anthropology 598, and 300- and 400-series courses may not be applied toward the fulfillment of the M.A. unit requirements.

The M.A course requirements include:

1. The graduate proseminar, Anthropology 200.
2. The graduate core seminars in the student’s field of specialization
3. A graduate core seminar in a subfield other than the student’s field of specialization.
4. An approved “Methods” course
5. Subfield-specific course requirements, if applicable

A grade of B or better is required in any core course taken at UCLA. If students received a grade of B-, C+, or C, they may not repeat the core course, but must take the core course examination and pass or be subject to being recommended for academic disqualification. If a grade of C- or below is received, students may repeat the course, but must receive a grade of B or better the second time the course is taken, or be subject to being recommended for academic disqualification.

For more information about required courses, please see the M.A. Course Requirements file.

Students in the Archaeology subfield are required to complete a capstone project. They are not expected to complete a thesis.

The capstone is a comprehensive examination that consists of three examinations, given at the completion of each section of Anthropology M201A, M201B, and M201C, respectively; and a research paper. Comprehensive examinations are graded by three readers (assembled by the archaeology faculty representative on the department’s Academic Coordinating Committee) as high pass, pass, or no pass. Each of the three examinations may be retaken once. The research paper, to be completed by the end of the sixth quarter of residence, is read by three faculty members and assists faculty in the determination of whether a student may continue for the Ph.D. degree. The paper is rated High Pass, Pass, or Fail by the three faculty members.

Students in the Biological, Linguistic, and Sociocultural (including students in the Psychocultural-Medical program) subfields are required to complete a thesis. They are not expected to complete a Capstone.

The master’s thesis demonstrates a student’s ability to generate and assemble a body of data, analyze it, and indicate its relevance to established anthropological thought in lucid prose. Students must submit an original paper based on field, laboratory, or library research to all three committee members by the end of the fifth quarter of residence. The thesis committee assists students in formulating the research paper, monitoring its progress, and evaluating the paper when submitted. It is essential that students maintain close contact with all three members while preparing the M.A. thesis. Students should consult the Graduate Division publication, Policies and Procedures for Thesis and Dissertation Preparation and Filing, for instructions on the preparation and submission of the thesis.

Normative time to the M.A degree is two years (six quarters).

  • Expected time of completion of the core course requirements: End of third quarter
  • Expected time of M.A. capstone/thesis committee nomination: Beginning of fourth quarter.
  • M.A. Advancement to Candidacy: Beginning of sixth quarter
  • Completion of M.A. capstone project/thesis filing: End of sixth quarter
  • Completion of 40 units of course work: End of sixth quarter

In the sixth quarter of academic residence, the student’s three-member committee will make a recommendation to the faculty regarding the award of the master’s degree and continuation for the Ph.D degree. Please see Ph.D Degree Requirements.