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Frequently asked questions about our MA in Applied Anthropology

What makes it Applied Anthropology?

Applied anthropology uses the theories, practices, methods, and mindsets of anthropology to help address real-world problems, usually in collaboration with community members.

Why Study Applied Anthropology at the University of Memphis?

The University of Memphis Department of Anthropology offers one of the nation's leading (and oldest) MA programs in Applied Anthropology. Our award-winning faculty and our established network of community leaders and former program graduates have developed what other universities call the "Memphis Model" of applied anthropology: a practicum-based approach that has resulted in success for many former students. In a 2018 survey of 65 alumni, 95% found employment in related fields or were admitted to post-MA studies. A 2018 analysis from US News and World Report lists Anthropologist among the best science jobs.

What courses are required?

All of our MA students are required to take courses in Theory, Methods, Analysis, and Applying Anthropology. Students in the Medical Anthropology concentration also take Critically Applied Medical Anthropology and Biocultural Epidemiology. Full details on the program and our courses are in the current catalog.

The coursework is only part of our program though:

The Practicum is the centerpiece of our graduate program, providing practical experience in applied anthropology. Students usually work collaboratively with agencies engaged in applied research, community development and/or community health, and use anthropological knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems.

Students in practica typically engage in activities such as research, grant writing, data analysis and program implementation and/or evaluation for governmental and non-governmental, non-profit and for-profit organizations such as health clinics, schools, police precincts, churches and community development agencies at the local, regional, national, or international level.

Can I study the environment, health, religion, gender, language, or some other anthropological topic as part of my MA?

Absolutely. Our program provides world-class training in anthropological theory, and our faculty have diverse theoretical interests (see our faculty bios and core research areas). What we have in common is a drive to apply anthropology in everyday life in the communities where we live and work.

How long does it take to complete a degree? What's the timeline like?

The MA in Applied Anthropology is designed as a two-year degree, assuming no classes during the summer and nine credit hours of classes each Spring and Fall. The integrated MA/MPH degree is designed to be completed in three years.

Are there concentrations, dual degrees, or additional certificates offered at the MA level?

Is there funding available to help pay for my MA?

  • Many of our students work in departmental 20-hour/week Graduate Assistantships (GAs) that cover tuition, fees, health insurance (beginning Fall 2024), and a monthly stipend. These competitive GA awards are offered each semester based on available funds and the Graduate Committee's ranking of applicants. Once awarded, GA positions can continue for up to two years based on supervisor reviews, biannual evaluations, and available funding.
  • First year graduate students are also eligible to apply for the Tim Bolding Scholarship in Anthropology.  
  • Some graduate students have found funding through the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy (SUAPP) Housing and Urban Development Fellowship.
  • Some graduate students find GA positions outside the department through this list maintained by the University.
  • Departmental Student Advances in Anthropology Awards (SAAA) also provide extra funding opportunities for grad students.
  • The University Financial Aid office is also there to help.

What resources can help me succeed once I'm admitted to the program?

The most important resource for graduate students is our network of applied anthropology peers, faculty members, staff, and community supporters. That said, we also have a whole web page of information specifically for current graduate students as well as another page of student resources.

What do I need to have in order to apply?

  • GRE test scores are NOT required. In lieu of GRE test scores, the department will conduct a holistic review of other application materials.
  • Transcripts from previous schools and universities
  • If you are an International Student, we encourage you to look into the Visa process early and read through the University of Memphis Information for International Students.
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least 2 of 3 must be from academic references; the online application will ask for names and email addresses)
  • Personal Statement (sometimes known as a Letter of Intent)
  • Writing sample (5 pages minimum). Recommended for all, required if seeking a Graduate Assistantship.
  • All documents should be uploaded to the online application system.
  • Be sure to check that you meet the minimum admisssion requirements for graduate school (GPA, language proficiency, etc.) 

When is the application deadline?

Fall Semester:

  • Deadline: April 1

    Applications submitted by January 31st will receive greater consideration for funding.
    Applications after the deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Spring Semester:

  • November 1
    Applications submitted by September 30th will receive greater consideration for funding.
    Applications after the deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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Wait; I still have questions...

If you still have questions, email our Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Ted Maclin, emaclin1@memphis.edu