Jan 24, 2021  
2009-2010 Downtown Campus Catalog 
2009-2010 Downtown Campus Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Anthropology, MA

►  Graduate School Rules  apply to this program.

Plans of Study

MA students may pursue Plan I (thesis option) or Plan II (nonthesis option).

  • Plan I:  33 semester hours of course work, of which 4-6 will be allocated to thesis hours. The thesis may consist of a report of original research, a comprehensive evaluation of existing research or a report on an internship experience in which disciplinary theory is applied to a practical question or series of practical questions. Students electing this option must prepare a thesis prospectus (research plan). The prospectus must be submitted to and approved by the student’s primary advisor one semester prior to beginning thesis work. The entire thesis committee must approve a draft of the thesis at least six weeks prior to any proposed defense date.
  • Plan II:  39 hours of course work.

Your plan of study, including a statement of proposed course work and thesis subject if applicable, must be submitted to and approved by your advisor by the third semester in residence.

The balance of courses (9-21 semester hours, depending on whether you pursue Plan I or II) should be used to develop the research or area concentration chosen from those available in the department. Up to 9 hours of course credit (at the 4000 level or above) may be in disciplines outside of but related to anthropology with the approval of your graduate advisor.

The Department of Anthropology offers an accelerated BA/MA degree option (Plan III) for accomplished undergraduate students. This option permits students to apply some courses taken at the undergraduate level toward meeting knowledge area requirements (research concentrations) for the MA degree. It also permits students to begin taking graduate courses (at the 5000 level or above), up to a maximum of 9 hours, while still considered by the university to be an undergraduate student. The accelerated degree option is designed to permit the full-time student to complete a full BA and MA program in anthropology in 10 semesters (assuming matriculation as a freshman and full-time residence). The accelerated degree option is only available to students who complete, or intend to complete, at least 30 semester hours from UC Denver anthropology faculty. Courses taken at any other institution, including common pool courses taught by MSCD faculty, cannot be applied toward completion of accelerated degree requirements. Transfer students may be required to take additional anthropology course work to qualify for the Plan III option.

Plan III students must complete the same core requirements as Plan I and Plan II students. To graduate in one year post-baccalaureate, admitted Plan III students should plan on completing at least two of the required core seminar courses during their senior undergraduate year. Students who are accepted to Plan III, but who do not eventually meet residency or minimum GPA requirements, will be transferred to Plan I or II options.

  • Plan III: 30 semester hours of course work taken at the graduate (5000 or above) level, inclusive of thesis hours. The student is encouraged (though not required) to take at least 9 graduate-level hours while still considered an undergraduate. During the final semester of residence as a graduate student, the student must take and pass the department’s comprehensive examination (described below). If a student wishes to complete a thesis, 4-6 hours of the 30 required course hours will be devoted to thesis work. Up to 3 thesis hours may be taken before the student meets requirements for the BA degree. See the Department of Anthropology Web site for a discussion of the relative advantages and disadvantages of pursuing the thesis option.

All graduate courses taken by students in the accelerated degree option must be completed with a grade of B- or better.

There are special admission and application requirements for the accelerated degree option (Plan III). Please see the Application Process section for information.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 to remain in good standing and receive a grade of B- or better in a course to have it count toward graduation. The Graduate School on the Downtown Campus requires a minimum of two full years devoted to advanced study, but students are strongly discouraged from spending more than four years. Generally, three years of full-time participation are required to complete the MA degree. Most of our students attend part time and thus take slightly longer to complete their degree program. All students are required to pass a six-hour written comprehensive examination, usually taken after core course work has been completed.

Your graduate anthropology education begins by taking ANTH 5810, Integrating Anthropology, plus two core courses that together encompass contemporary theory in anthropology. These are followed by three courses in research methods and techniques, including statistics. You are required to take the core series in two of the three subdisciplines. After completing this core, you will select from among the specialized elective courses in the research concentrations described in more detail below. You will work closely with an advisor in selecting the range of courses appropriate both to a problem orientation and to your career objectives.


Tier One: A Survey of Theoretical Perspectives in Contemporary Anthropology

Required in fall of first year

Tier Two: Methods of the Discipline

All students must complete or demonstrate competence in subjects covered by the following:

Total: 9 Hours

* Students who wish to apply for a teaching assistantship in archaeology must have completed this course.

Students who wish to apply for a teaching assistantship in biological anthropology must have completed this course.


Tier Three: Research Concentrations (9-21 semester hours)

You will round out your program by selecting from the diverse range of courses offered in the department according to your particular interests in anthropology, your career goals and your plans for future graduate study. You may take courses in one or more concentrations. The courses listed are suggestions only; you must work closely with your advisor in constructing your particular program of study.


Medical anthropology is a subdiscipline of anthropology that includes the study of all aspects of health, illness and disease in human communities and populations. It draws on all of the perspectives that distinguish anthropology as a unique discipline: the analysis of human evolution and adaptation; cultural development, expressions and variability; and historical change and continuity. Medical anthropology takes as its subject a broad range of specific topics, including the study of health care systems, factors that affect the distribution and determinants of disease in populations, maternal and child health, nutrition and food habits, human development, political ecology, health policy and language and communication in health care contexts. Faculty in the department emphasize the applied dimensions of medical anthropology, preparing students for careers in public health, health care and health sciences research. Courses in the department are complemented by electives in other departments (sociology, biology, psychology, history, geography), programs on the Downtown Campus (health administration, public affairs, education) and programs at the Anschutz Medical Campus (schools of medicine, dental medicine, pharmacy and nursing).




The archaeological studies program concentrates on the study of past human societies using archaeological data collected in field and museum settings. While a quantitative and scientific approach is emphasized, the theoretical perspectives employed also draw heavily from political economy and cultural ecology. The department offers a variety of theoretical, methodological and area courses, which may be supplemented by others in the geography and environmental sciences and history departments. Internships are available in local museums and historic preservation offices in the Denver metropolitan area.


The biological anthropology concentration is concerned with modern human biological diversity and the past evolutionary history that has led to such diversity. Students in this concentration develop a firm understanding of the evolutionary processes that lead to physical and behavioral variation in humans and nonhuman primates. The concentration also emphasizes the theoretical and quantitative methods used to explore and explain this variation. Students may take courses in diverse areas including evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology, ethnobiology, epidemiology, nutrition, medical anthropology, paleoanthropology, paleontology and primatology. Because biological anthropology is multidisciplinary in nature, students are encouraged to consider courses offered outside the department.


This concentration provides a critical, multicultural and multidisciplinary perspective on issues of development and resource conservation, with a strong emphasis on the integration of theoretical knowledge with field-based training opportunities. Three major themes are addressed within this concentration:

  1. the types of resource management systems present in the world and their relationship to particular ecosystems
  2. the types of knowledge systems and ideas associated with this diverse array of resource management systems, environmental knowledge and theoretical perspectives included
  3. the culture of institutions—ranging from small-scale NGOs to the World Bank—that design and implement conservation and development

A central goal of this emphasis is to provide students with the information, opportunities and resources required for pursuing a wide variety of career options in conservation and/or development. In addition to offering the following courses, the department encourages students to develop a specialized skill in conjunction with other departments and schools including areas such as GIS mapping (geography), ecology (biology/anthropology), legal and policy issues (political science, School of Public Affairs), land use (geography, School of Public Affairs) and research/evaluation methodologies (anthropology).

Total: 9-21 Hours

Degree Total Hours

     PLAN I:    33 Hours (including 4-6 hours of thesis)

     PLAN II:  39 Hours


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