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The MA Degree Program


The MA Program

The University of Virginia offers the following three pathways to an MA Degree in Anthropology:

  • Stand-alone Masters,
  • En-route Masters (part of the PhD program), and
  • Masters Promotion (for undergraduate majors wishing to combine their BA with an MA).


The Stand-Alone Masters in Anthropology

A stand-alone MA in Anthropology from the University of Virginia requires 24 credits of graded coursework, satisfaction of our Language Requirement, and completion of either a Comprehensive Exam or one Critical Review Essay.  In most cases students take 3 semesters to complete our stand-alone MA program. It is possible to pursue the stand-alone MA on a full-time or part-time basis. 

The En-Route Masters in Anthropology

Students who matriculate into our PhD program are invited to claim an "en-route" MA degree once they have completed all the requirements for the stand-alone MA degree, usually during their second year. Those wishing to continue on to the PhD degree must choose the Critical Review Essay (rather than the Comprehensive Exam).

The Masters Promotion in Anthropology

UVA undergraduates may consider applying to transition directly from their undergraduate studies to the Masters program in Anthropology. Interested students are encouraged to plan carefully with their advisors as early as possible in their undergraduate careers, ideally in their 3rd year, to take full advantage of the program.



The requirements for the MA Degree in Anthropology at the University of Virginia are:

  • 24 Credits of graded coursework at the graduate level that include:
    • ANTH 7010 (History of Anthropological Theory)
    • Two subfield distribution courses in either Archeological, Linguistic, or Socio-cultural Anthropology
  • Satisfaction of the first part of the department's graduate language requirement:
    • Demonstration of "Competency" in a second language (in addition to the language the student grew up speaking and using)
    • See our Graduate Language Requirement Page for details
  • Either:
    • A Critical Review Essay evaluated by the student’s MA Director plus a second faculty reader.  (This Critical Review Essay follows the same guidelines used by 2nd-Year PhD students for their Critical Review Essays, and MA students may choose to write either the topical or regional essay.) OR
    • A comprehensive examination evaluated by members of the faculty.


Most graduate courses run for a single semester and count for 3 credit hours. Full-time graduate students generally take three (sometimes four) courses per semester. Graduate courses from other institutions cannot be transferred for credit towards the University of Virginia MA degree. Incoming MA and PhD students take ANTH 7010 (History of Anthropological Theory) together.  The subfield distribution requirement involves taking at least one course in two of the three subfields (archaeological, linguistic, and socio-cultural anthropology). Full-time students in the MA track are expected to complete all coursework and other requirements for their degrees by the end of their second year.

If you have questions please contact our Director of Graduate Studies or our Director of Graduate Admissions.