Master of Arts in Anthropology
The MA Program is intended to instill anthropological fundamentals in archaeology, biological and cultural anthropology, as well as additional core competencies in the applicant's elected subfield. An MA degree may be an end unto itself, or preparation for admission to the PhD Program, which provides opportunities for further specialization. A PhD is typically required for a career in academia. The Department also offers alternative terminal MA tracks in Applied Archaeology and Applied Cultural Anthropology.
There is a campus-wide New Graduate Student Orientation (NGSO) during the week before the Fall semester starts, hosted by the Graduate Student Organization (GSO). The Department of Anthropology also hosts an orientation session for its own new students during the same week. It is run jointly by the Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA) and faculty members. Entering students should receive an information packet from the department about this during the summer.
First-Year Student Requirements
All first-year graduate students in the Department of Anthropology, regardless of their particular degree program, must fulfill certain obligations during their first year in the program.
All incoming graduate students are required to attend the Department of Anthropology Colloquium Series their first two semesters in residence. The colloquia are held on Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. Students should not enroll in any classes that will overlap this time.
In addition to attending the colloquia, first-year students should pair up and take turns providing refreshments (light snacks and beverages). Students can turn in their receipts to the Graduate Specialist for reimbursement of up to $20. Students should sign up at the beginning of the school year, using the sign-up sheet located on the back door of the Department’s Special Events Room.
2. Special Events Room Maintenance
First-year students have the responsibility of maintaining the Department’s Special Events Room (colloquially known as the lounge). Students take turns each month to clean the lounge, working in pairs. Each student should clean the lounge at least one month each semester. Cleaning should include wiping down table and counter surfaces, sweeping the floor, cleaning the microwaves, and taking out the recycling. Students should sign up at the beginning of the school year; the sign-up sheet is located on the back door of the lounge.
3. AGRL Monitoring
The Anthropology Graduate Reading Library (AGRL) is a special resource in the Department that is operated and maintained by the graduate students. At the beginning of the school year, first-year students will receive training in how to be a monitor for the AGRL. By volunteering as a monitor for a minimum of one hour per week during their first year in the program, new graduate students earn check-out privileges.
In consultation with individual faculty members, the Admissions Committee selects an interim advisor for each incoming student who intends to become a candidate for a graduate degree. Any Graduate Faculty member of the Department of Anthropology is eligible to become an interim advisor.
The Department does not usually permit Cooperating Graduate Faculty to serve as a student’s advisor. On a case by case basis, however, and in consultation with members of the relevant subfield caucus (comprised of all archaeology, biological or cultural anthropology faculty), the departmental Admissions Committee may recommend a Cooperating Graduate Faculty member serves as an interim advisor—and act as their committee chair thereafter—for a prospective student if that student would be best suited to work with a Cooperating Graduate Faculty member and would otherwise be deemed admissible into the Anthropology graduate program. This may be the case if the prospective student:
- Explicitly mentions the desire to work with the Cooperating Graduate Faculty member;
- a regular faculty member does not feel they have the ability or time to advise the student;
- the Cooperating Graduate Faculty member could aid in recruitment; or
- a combination of these three criteria.
If a student prefers a particular faculty member, the student may request that person to be the advisor. Faculty members may examine the records of incoming students and submit to the Chair of the Admissions Committee the names of any student whom they wish to advise.
Initial Advisory Meeting
New students should have an initial meeting with their interim advisor to discuss their study plans and any undergraduate deficiencies. This should be done soon after they arrive at the Department, no later than the week before the start of the semester.
Either the student or the advisor may later propose a change of advisor to the Graduate Chair if another faculty member better matches the student’s interests. Only in rare and exceptional circumstances may a graduate student change their committee chair to a Cooperating Graduate Faculty member by petition to the Graduate Chair, having first consulted with members of the relevant subfield caucus. In these cases, it is the responsibility of the graduate student to demonstrate that another core faculty member in the department of anthropology is unable or unavailable to act as committee chair and that a Cooperating Graduate Faculty member has the appropriate expertise to guide the student through the program.
Before the end of the second semester, the student is strongly advised to select a three-person committee. Students must solicit the agreement of individual faculty members to serve on the committee. Graduate Division approves Plan A committees following the recommendation of the Graduate Chair, and submission of Master's Plan A Form II - Advance to Candidacy (from Graduate Division). Plan B committees are approved by the Department using the Post-Candidacy Conference form (from the Department of Anthropology). Once Form II has been submitted or the Department has approved a committee, students may not change their committee members or their research topic without special permission from the Graduate Chair.
The committee chair (the student’s advisor) is typically a member of the Department of Anthropology’s regular Graduate Faculty. Only in rare and unusual circumstances may a Cooperating Graduate Faculty member of the Department serve in this capacity. At least two members of the student’s committee must be regular Graduate Faculty in the Department of Anthropology. If the student’s advisor and committee chair is a regular faculty member of the Department, then only one additional member of the committee need also be a regular faculty member. Any person on the Graduate Faculty of the Anthropology Department, or any other graduate program of the University, is eligible to serve as the third committee member. If the student’s advisor and committee chair are Cooperating Graduate Faculty Members, then the remaining two members of the student’s committee must be regular Graduate Faculty in the Department of Anthropology.
As soon as possible following the formation of the committee, and prior to the end of the second semester in residence, the student is expected to initiate a candidacy conference. The conference must include all members of the student’s committee. Students should bring the following to the meeting:
- Their updated Annual Progress Report form (from the Department of Anthropology).
- Proposed Program of Study, which includes:
- Declaration of intent to pursue Plan A track or Plan B track.
- Courses the student plans to take.
- Student’s subfield, focus specialization, geographic area, and foreign language (if applicable).
- Brief description of the student’s prospective research project (Plan A only) or scholarly papers (Plan B only).
- List of committee members (names and departments).
At the conference, the student’s plan of action will be discussed and modified in appropriate ways. For Plan A students, approval of Form II constitutes admission to candidacy. For Plan B students, admission to candidacy is contingent upon acceptance of the proposed study plan by all the committee members and the student. Admission to candidacy will be contingent upon acceptance of the proposed study plan by all the committee members and the student. The student’s committee chair should sign and date a copy of the proposed program of study, and the student should then give this to the Graduate Specialist to be entered into their academic file.
Any major deviation from the proposed plan decided upon at the conference will require a re-convening of the student's committee and consideration of the proposed changes. The new plan must be submitted in writing by the student and approved by all concerned. The student will work closely with their advisor to implement the plan.
The Post-Candidacy Conference form (from the Department of Anthropology) must be filled out by all students (MA and PhD) and signed by committee members after student has held the first candidacy conference (usually after the first year of residency).
Plan A Only
At the end of the meeting, the student’s committee chair should complete Master's Plan A Form I - Pre-Candidacy Progress (from Graduate Division) and pass it on to the Graduate Specialist to process to Graduate Division. Plan A students may also complete Master's Plan A Form II - Advance to Candidacy (from Graduate Division) at the meeting if they are prepared to progress to the thesis stage.
General Course Requirements
A minimum of 30 credit hours of course work is required for the MA if a student’s primary area of focus is biological or cultural anthropology. If a student’s primary area of focus is archaeology, then a minimum of 31 credit hours of course work is required instead. The average course is 3 credits. 100 and 200 level courses cannot be counted as credit toward a graduate degree. MA students must be enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi full-time (8 credits minimum) for at least 2 semesters while completing the degree. See Residency Program Requirement.
Graduate students must maintain at least a B (3.0) average. All courses taken for degree credit must be taken for a letter grade (A-F). Credit/No Credit courses do not count toward degree credit.
ANTH 699: Directed Reading and Research credits when taken for a grade (A-F) may be counted toward the MA degree. Consult the Graduate Chair to determine the exact number of credits that can be applied in specific cases.
A minimum of 18 credits must be taken within the Department of Anthropology if a student’s primary area of focus is biological or cultural anthropology. If a student’s primary area of focus is instead archaeology, a minimum of 19 credits must be taken within the Department of Anthropology. Courses fulfilling these requirements may be upper division (300-400 level) or graduate (600+) level. ANTH 699 and ANTH 700 do not count toward this requirement.
MA students whose primary area of focus is biological or cultural anthropology must take the following courses, earning a B (3.00) or better:
- Take 3 out of 4 graduate-level survey courses:
- ANTH 601: Ethnology
- ANTH 603: Archaeology
- ANTH 604: Biological Anthropology
- ANTH 611: Contemporary Anthropological Theory
- 2 Method courses
- 2 Theory courses
- 2 Area courses
MA students whose primary area of focus is archaeology must take the following courses, earning a B (3.00) or better:
- ANTH 603: Archaeology and 2 out of 3 additional graduate-level survey courses:
- ANTH 601: Ethnology
- ANTH 604: Biological Anthropology
- ANTH 611: Contemporary Anthropological Theory
- ANTH 471: Field Mapping (cross-listed as GEOG 472)
- ANTH 666: Archaeological Data Analysis (4 credits)
- ANTH 711: Seminar in Research Design and Proposal Writing
- 1 Method course (in addition to ANTH 471 and ANTH 666)
- 2 Theory courses
- 1 Area course
For course designations, please refer to the Area, Method, Theory guide.
Each spring semester, all enrolled graduate students are required to submit an Annual Progress Report form (from the Department of Anthropology), signed by their advisor, to the Graduate Specialist.
In addition to the general requirements, Plan A students must also fulfill the following course requirements:
- Take a minimum of 12 credits in graduate-level courses numbered 600 and above. These credits may apply toward the general 30- or 31-credit minimum and the Department of Anthropology 18- or 19-credit minimum, depending on the student’s primary area of focus. However, ANTH 699: Directed Reading and Research and ANTH 700: Thesis Research do not count towards these 600 level credits.
- Enroll in a minimum of 6 credits (maximum of 12) of ANTH 700: Thesis Research to graduate. ANTH 699 credits can be used to fulfill this requirement, but Plan A students must be enrolled in at least one credit of ANTH 700 the semester they graduate. Enrollment in 1 credit of ANTH 700: Thesis Research is considered full-time status.
Advancement to Thesis
After completing required course work, developing a satisfactory research proposal, designating whether human subjects will be used in the research, and selecting a thesis title, the student is eligible to advance to the thesis stage.
To advance to the thesis stage and register for ANTH 700: Thesis Research, students must submit Master's Plan A Form II - Advance to Candidacy (from Graduate Division). This form must be signed by all committee members and the Graduate Chair, then submitted to the Graduate Specialist. It is possible for this form to be completed at the student’s Candidacy Conference if they are prepared at that time to progress to the thesis stage. Once Form II has been submitted, students may not change their committee members or their research topic without special permission from the Graduate Chair.
Final Examination Meeting and Submission of Thesis
Students should submit a draft of the thesis to all committee members four weeks prior to the final examination meeting. At the meeting, students should have available for signature the prepared Master's Plan A Form III - Thesis Evaluation and Master's Plan A Form IV - Thesis Submission (from Graduate Division). The student should submit the Graduate Division forms to the Graduate Specialist. After any necessary revisions, students should then submit their thesis to Graduate Division. Refer to the current Style and Policy Manual for Theses and Dissertations document (from Graduate Division) for proper format style for the thesis.
In addition to the above general requirements, Plan B students must also take a minimum of 18 credits in graduate-level courses numbered 600 and above. These credits may apply toward the general 30- or 31-credit minimum and the Department of Anthropology 18- or 19-credit minimum, depending on the student’s primary area of focus. ANTH 699: Directed Reading and Research does not count towards these 600-level credits.
Plan B students must write three scholarly papers on anthropological topics, one of which must be a research proposal. It is suggested that students write the research proposal during their second year in residence after or while enrolled in ANTH 710: Seminar in Research Methods or ANTH 711: Seminar in Research Design.
Students should submit Plan B papers formatted to respective professional standards by subfield:
- archaeology - American Antiquity
- biological anthropology - American Journal of Biological Anthropology OR Journal of Human Evolution
- cultural (and linguistic) anthropology - American Anthropologist
Final Examination Meeting
When students have completed all coursework and other Plan B requirements, they should schedule a final meeting with their committee. Two weeks prior to the meeting, they should submit the three papers to their committee members. At the meeting, they should bring the Master’s Plan B: Final Examination and Approval of Three Papers (Word; PDF form-fillable) form (from the Department of Anthropology). The titles of the three papers should be typed on this form. At the end of the meeting, the committee members should sign the form, and students should submit it to the Graduate Specialist.
As long as the General Course Requirements and Department of Anthropology Course Requirements are being met, MA students may take elective courses outside the department. Students may also petition to have a course from another department count toward a Department of Anthropology Course Requirement (e.g., an Area designation course taken in the Ethnic Studies department). To do this, students should submit a written justification and course syllabus for counting the course toward their requirements to the Graduate Specialist, who will then pass it on to the Graduate Chair for consideration.
If a student is planning to apply to the Anthropology doctoral program, after their Final Examination meeting, they should give the Graduate Specialist a list of all Anthropology faculty with whom they have taken graduate level courses, and a Petition for Admission to a Doctorate in Same Discipline form (from Graduate Division). The Graduate Specialist will arrange for these faculty to meet and decide whether or not to admit the student to the doctoral program. After being admitted, the Graduate Specialist will then forward the student’s Petition to Graduate Division.
Note: Students in an Applied MA terminal degree program must reapply if they wish to enter the doctoral program.
Students whose committees include an external committee member participating via telephone teleconference have the responsibility to handle the logistics of communication, in consultation with their committee chair and Graduate Specialist.
Expenses for a long distance call will be borne by the department, so long as the following conditions are met:
- Skype or a similar free internet communications service will be used whenever possible. The student is responsible for informing their committee member of this expectation and for assisting that person with installing any required software. The student is responsible for testing the connection (including audio/video quality) with the external member prior to the committee meeting.
- If the student can demonstrate that it is impossible to utilize a free internet service (for example, the committee member cannot get access to a fast internet connection), then a scheduled call may be arranged. Graduate Specialist will provide advice regarding phone access.
It will be the student’s responsibility to arrange for a faculty proxy in the event that the phone and/or internet connection is inoperable.
Federal, State, and University regulations require that proposed research projects of certain types be reviewed and approved to ensure that the proposed research complies with applicable protective standards. Students who are unsure whether these regulations apply to their research should consult with their advisor, with Graduate Division, or with the Office of Research Compliance.
The Human Studies Program (HSP) is the administrative unit of the University of Hawaiʻi System Human Research Protection Program (HRPP). The HSP works together with the UH research community to ensure the health, welfare, rights, and dignity of people who participate in UH research. Students conducting research with human subjects for their thesis, dissertation, or other project resulting in publication must receive Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Students may submit their application through the eProtocol system. For information on exemption qualifications and other details, visit the HSP website.