This master's program is offered for work leading to the Ph.D. Students may not apply directly for the master's, and should instead see the admissions information for the Ph.D.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Degree coursework must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement A GPA of 3.5. No less than 3.0 during the first year; must have a 3.5 thereafter.
Other Grade Requirements Candidates may not have a GPA lower than 3.0 during the first year and must maintain a 3.5 GPA every year thereafter. Candidates may not carry more than 4 credits of Incomplete at any one time; credits of Incomplete over this limit are counted as grades of F for purposes of the GPA until removed.
Assessments and Examinations Successful completion of a comprehensive master’s exam or a Ph.D. qualifying examination is required.
Language Requirements Language study will be required for many students; specifics are determined in consultation with the advisor and co-advisor.

Required COURSES

Students choose from one of four concentrations/tracks (also referred to as "sections") in the department. Students in the Cultural concentration will earn a master of arts. Students in the Archaeology, Biological, or Intersectional concentrations will work their advisor and a department committee to determine if the coursework they take meets the requirements for a master of arts or a master of science.

Archaeology Concentration Track1

Student must complete a total of 30 credits of graduate course work, including three seminars (ANTHRO 942 Seminar-Archaeological Problems) in archaeology.  Substitutions for the required seminars in archaeology are not normally allowed. (Incoming M.A. students must take at least two seminars as a part of the Ph.D. requirements, and these courses may be taken before or after the qualifying examination.)

Biological Concentration Track1

Student must complete a total of 30 credits of graduate course work. The following courses are strongly recommended in preparation for the general section of the qualifying examination:

ANTHRO 303 Human Skeletal Anatomy4
ANTHRO 601 Proseminar in Biological Anthropology3
ANTHRO 603 Seminar in Evolutionary Theory3
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3

Cultural Concentration Track1

Minimum 30 credits of graduate course work, 15 credits in cultural anthropology, including ANTHRO 860 and ANTHRO 900, and one additional 900-level seminar (not to include ANTHRO 909 if continuing in Ph.D. program).

Intersectional Concentration Track1

There are no specific courses required; students choose courses in consultation with their advisor.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

Progress criteria may be waived in special circumstances which must be stated in writing and approved by the appropriate section and signed by the department chair. Candidates not making satisfactory progress will be dropped from the program.


Every graduate student will be assigned an advisor and a co-advisor. To ensure they are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects that students meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Ph.D. qualifying examinations must be taken no later than the fourth semester and must be passed no later than the sixth semester.

Master's degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence.

Grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


We have a limited amount of graduate student support through teaching assistantships and fellowships. These are awarded competitively, and are only awarded to those applicants who have all their materials in by the December 1 deadline.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in either biological, archaeological, or cultural anthropology.
  2. Identifies relevant data and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in one of the three subfields of anthropology taught in this department.
  3. Demonstrates understanding of the primary field of study in historical, social, or global/transnational contexts as revealed in the qualifying exam.
  4. Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices in the sub-discipline.
  5. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in one of the three subfields of anthropology taught in this department.
  6. Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study.
  7. Follows ethical principles of the discipline including respect and sensitivity to host cultures and communities, inclusiveness and diversity, civility and collegiality, and zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

Faculty: See Anthropology.