College of Liberal Arts

Department of Anthropology

Cultural Anthropology Program

The graduate program in cultural anthropology at WSU emphasizes three constellations of subject matter within the broad range of the subdiscipline:

  • Ecological anthropology
  • Psychological and medical anthropology
  • Children, family, and gender

Within these specialties the faculty in cultural anthropology reflect interest and field experience in Latin America, South Asia, Oceania, North America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Students in the MA and PhD programs are exposed to basic issues in the four fields of American anthropology through core courses in archaeology, evolutionary anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics.  They are then expected to explore the subdiscipline of cultural anthropology through a variety of required and elective courses within the department, as well as courses in other departments, if such classes are appropriate for their research interests. 

The cultural anthropology program offers a general MA, a master’s degree focusing on environmental and public health anthropology in concert with the Peace Corps (referred to as a “Master’s International” or “MI” degree), and a PhD.  For information on the MI program, please see the following section.  The PhD in cultural anthropology offers highly individualized training in a variety of areas according to the student’s interests and the specializations of the faculty.  PhD students are expected to develop research proposals in cooperation wit their advisors in order to obtain outside grant support for their doctoral research.

MA students in cultural anthropology identified as ready for doctoral work will be invited to bypass the master’s degree, and to work directly toward the PhD.  These students will be identified at the end of their first year of graduate study, as a result of their performance in classes, their demonstrated intellectual and professional capabilities, and their success on a qualifying examination administered to all first-year MA students in the Department of Anthropology.

All graduate programs in cultural anthropology emphasize the importance of fieldwork.  Both MA and PhD students are expected to conduct original field research as part of their graduate training.  Competence in a foreign language at both the MA and PhD levels is required of all students, regardless of the location of their fieldwork.


Requirements for the M.A. Program in Cultural Anthropology

NOTE: A minimum of 27 semester hours of graded course work is required  for students in the MA program in cultural anthropology.  Of these, 6 hours may be derived from undergraduate courses with 300 or 400 numerical designations in which the student has received a grade of B or better.  Students must also take at least 4 hours of thesis research/writing. 

I.  Required departmental core courses (9 credit hours)
ANTH 510  Fundamentals of Cultural Anthropology (3 credit hours)
ANTH 530  Archaeological Method and Theory (3 credit hours)
ANTH 562  Evolutionary Method and Theory in Anthropology and Archaeology (3 credit hours)

II.  Required cultural core program (at least 12 credit hours)
ANTH 507  Advanced Studies in Culture Theory (may be repeated for credit) (3 credits)
ANTH 528  Historical Ethnography (3 credit hours)
            OR
ANTH 529  Seminar in Ethnography (may be repeated for credit) (3 credit hours)
ANTH 550  Descriptive Linguistics (3 credit hours)
ANTH 554 Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology (3 credit hours)  This class must be taken the first semester a student is enrolled.

III.  Electives (at least 6 credit hours)
Students may take their elective courses in any department within the University.  The following is a list of elective graduate courses offered within the subdiscipline of cultural anthropology.
ANTH 504  Indigenous Peoples and International Development (3 credit hours)
ANTH 507  Advanced Studies in Culture Theory (also a cultural requirement, but repeatable for credit) (3 credit hours)
ANTH 519  International Development and Human Resources (3 credit hours)
ANTH 528  Historical Ethnography (may be taken as a cultural requirement) (3 credit hours)
ANTH 529 Seminar in Ethnography (may be taken as a cultural requirement; repeatable for credit) (3 credit hours)
ANTH 537  Quantitative Methods in Anthropology (by review of a student’s graduate committee (3 credit hours)
ANTH 569  Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology (3 credit hours)
ANTH 591.1  Cultural Psychiatry and Psychology (3 credit hours)
ANTH 591.2  Biocultural and Social Approaches to Child Care (3 credit hours)
ANTH 591.3  Seminar in Medical Anthropology (3 credit hours)

IV.  Research/thesis hours (at least 4 credit hours)
ANTH 700  Master’s research, thesis, and/or examination (variable credit)
Students should develop a preliminary research proposal for the thesis during the their first semester as part of the course requirement in Anthropology 554 (Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology), which must be taken during the first semester of enrollment.  A more finished version of the proposal must be submitted to a student’s thesis committee for approval before the end of the second semester of coursework.  The approved proposal will serve as a guide for the fieldwork they are expected to conduct during the summer between the first and second year of enrollment in the MA program.  During the second year of enrollment students are expected to complete their coursework and to write a thesis or the equivalent.  The MA program in cultural anthropology is designed to take two years and should be completed within that time.

There are two options for fulfilling the thesis requirement for the MA program.  A student may choose to write the traditional thesis, which will be ethnographic in content and broad in scope.  Alternatively, a student may choose the professional paper option.”  This consists of writing a publishable paper and presenting a version of this paper at a professional conference.  For the purposes of this option a “publishable” paper is one that has been published, been accepted for publication, or that is deemed publishable by the cultural faculty.

V.  First year qualifying examination
Near the end of the second semester of an MA student’s enrollment in the graduate program in anthropology he/she will take a qualifying examination based upon the three departmental core courses.  Performance on these examinations will be evaluated by a group of cultural faculty and this assessment will be combined with a collective assessment of the student’s performance during his/her first two semesters in the graduate program.  As a result of this assessment, students will be notified of one of three results:
            1.  High pass: the student will be invited to enter the PhD program directly, without the need to complete the MA degree.
            2.  Pass: the student will be allowed to complete the MA degree, and will be allowed to apply for entrance into the PhD program after completing the MA.
            3.  Fail: the student will be dropped from the graduate program in anthropology.

VI.  Foreign language competence
All students, regardless of the location of their fieldwork, are required to demonstrate competence in a language other than English.  At a minimum this competence may be demonstrated by achieving a grade of B or better in two semesters of a college course in a foreign language.  Students whose native language is not English will be assumed to have foreign language competence.  Students whose fieldwork will be conducted among non-speakers of English will be expected to demonstrate competence in this language in a way that satisfies their committees.  The fulfillment of the foreign language requirement must be approved in a meeting of the cultural faculty.

VII.  Quantitative methods
All students, regardless of the nature of their fieldwork, are required to demonstrate competence in quantitative methods.  This requirement may be satisfied through completion of one of a variety of courses in quantitative methods.  The choice of a course to satisfy this requirement will be determined by the student in consultation with his/her committee, and must be approved at a meeting of the cultural faculty.

VIII.  Final Master’s Oral Examination
The final master’s oral examination (not to exceed an hour and a half) will consist primarily of a discussion of the candidate’s master’s thesis, as well as questions on other aspects of anthropology related to the thesis.


Requirements for the Ph.D. Program in Cultural Anthropology

Note: For a PhD the Graduate School requires a total of 72 hours, of which 34 must be graded course credits.  Students who have completed the MA in Anthropology at WSU and who are admitted to the PhD program may use all their MA course credits toward the PhD total. 

Students entering the WSU PhD program with an MA from another institution are required to take the departmental and cultural core courses.  They may, however, negotiate with the cultural faculty as to which, if any, of their MA courses will be accepted in place of the WSU departmental and cultural MA core requirements.

I.  Required cultural core course (3 credit hours)
ANTH 593: Publishing and Professional Communication (3 hours)

II.  Electives (12 credit hours)
PhD students must take at least 12 credit hours of electives as PhD students.  Please see the elective listing in the MA program description for a listing of graduate electives in anthropology.

III.  Research/Dissertation Hours (at least 20 credit hours)
Students must take at least 20 hours of research or dissertation hours as they prepare for, plan, and complete their dissertations.  This will include extensive background reading, as well as possible transcription, arrangement, and analysis of field materials, as well as the actual writing of their dissertations.

IV.  Preliminary examination
All PhD students will take a preliminary examination upon the completion of their coursework, and in no case later than the third year of their enrollment as PhD students.  The preliminary examination (preliminary to the writing and defense of the dissertation) consists of two parts: written and oral.  The content of the preliminary examination is negotiated between a student and his/her dissertation committee. 

V.  Foreign language competence
All students, regardless of the location of their fieldwork, are required to demonstrate competence in a language other than English.  At a minimum this competence may be demonstrated by achieving a grade of B or better in two semesters of a college course in a foreign language.  Students whose native language is not English will be assumed to have foreign language competence.  Students whose fieldwork will be conducted among non-speakers of English will be expected to demonstrate competence in this language in a way that satisfies their committees.  The fulfillment of the foreign language requirement must be approved in a meeting of the cultural faculty.

VI.  Quantitative methods
All students, regardless of the nature of their fieldwork, are required to demonstrate competence in quantitative methods.  This requirement may be satisfied through completion of one of a variety of courses in quantitative methods.  The choice of a course to satisfy this requirement will be determined by the student in consultation with his/her committee, and must be approved at a meeting of the cultural faculty.

VII.  Dissertation
PhD students must submit a dissertation research proposal that is approved by their committees before they begin fieldwork for the dissertation.  Students are strongly urged to seek outside funding for their proposed research.  Fieldwork for the dissertation usually covers one year, and writing the dissertation normally requires an additional year.

There are two options for the fulfillment of the dissertation requirement within the cultural anthropology program.  The traditional option consists of writing a dissertation, which will include an ethnographic study of considerable depth and scope.  Alternatively, a student may choose the professional paper option.  This option requires the submission of three publishable papers united by separate introductory and concluding sections.  For the purposes of this option a “publishable” paper is one that has been published, been accepted for publication, or that is deemed publishable by the cultural faculty.

VIII.  Defense of the dissertation      

After completing the dissertation, a student must submit copies to his/her doctoral committee, the Department of Anthropology, and the University, and must also present an oral defense of the dissertation.

 

One-page pdf admission checklist

CONTACT INFORMATION

Graduate Coordinator
Nancy McKee
npmckee@wsu.edu

Student Representative

Kristina Cantin
cantinkris@yahoo.com

Meet the Cultural Faculty

 


For answers to any questions not covered in these pages please email, call or write to us:

 

Main Office Contact Info:

College Hall 150
PO Box 644910
Pullman, WA 99164-4910
Phone: 509.335.3441
FAX: 509.335.3999

 

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Department of Anthropology, PO Box 644910, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4910, 509-335-3441, Contact Us