The Master of Arts program in anthropology requires between 30-36 s.h. of graduate credit, depending on a student's previous anthropological training. Students must maintain an overall g.p.a. of at least 3.00 in all courses. Students may count a maximum of 9 s.h. earned in courses outside anthropology toward the Master's degree. It is expected that a full-time student will complete all M.A. requirements by the end of the second year in the program.

Master's degree students who choose to follow the Cultural Resource Management - Archaeology focus (see below) normally do not go on to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology.

By the end of their first semester, each student must select an M.A. committee, consisting of an advisor and two additional professors. Each year, students compile, in consultation with their advisor, the three strongest papers written for anthropology courses, conferences, or journals; an annotated bibliography; their current curriculum vitae; and a three-page narrative to describe their intellectual trajectory in the M.A. program to date. 

Listed below are the general categories of coursework required to earn the degree; for more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Master of Arts in anthropology, visit the UI General Catalog.

Degree Requirements
Title Hours
Core Seminars 12
Additional Upper-Level Electives (see below) 18
Master's Portfolio (see below) -
Total Hours 30-36

Important Deadlines

Application Deadline: January 1st (for all programs)


Applicants for admission to the graduate program in anthropology are considered regardless of their previous field of training. Students without previous training in anthropology are expected to perform additional work as necessary to achieve competence expected for their degree objective.

Students normally are admitted under the assumption that they intend to pursue the Ph.D. degree. Students without an M.A. in anthropology devote the first two years fulfilling the M.A. requirements. After those requirements are completed, the student's committee may award the M.A. with admittance to the Ph.D. program.

Students with an M.A. in anthropology from another institution may proceed directly into a Ph.D. program organized around their special research interests. If they lack any of the requirements of the graduate program at the University of Iowa, they are informed of those requirements when admitted. Acceptance of credit hours from other institutions will follow UI regulations.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit official test scores to verify English proficiency. Applicants can verify English proficiency by submitting official test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Once recommended for admission, international students also must complete several additional requirements.

For additional information, visit the Graduate Admissions Process page.


In consultation with the advisor and committee members, students select a minimum of 18 s.h. of additional graduate-level course work to complete the remaining semester hours required for the M.A. Elective hours may include courses in Anthropology, in other relevant disciplines, and up to 9 s.h. of independent study credit.

Master's Portfolio

Each year in the program, a Master’s student must submit four items:

  • Three (3) research papers: The papers can be written for anthropology courses, conferences, or journals and should represent their strongest work from that year.
  • An annotated bibliography: The bibliography should highlight key works/references within areas of focus that help to define the student’s research interests.  In Year 1, the bibliography should include 3 topical areas with 5 key annotated references in each.  In year 2, the bibliography should include 3-4 topical areas with 6-10 key references in each.
  • Their current CV
  • Narrative Essay: This essay presents the student’s intellectual trajectory in the M.A. program and should address what the student (1) has accomplished, (2) is doing currently and plans for the near future, and (3) will have left to do in future semesters. (3 pages in length)

The Master’s Portfolio will be assembled under the guidance of the M.A. candidate’s advisor and committee, and should be submitted in the Spring semester. The students and committees will meet during Finals Week to discuss portfolio content and progress in the program. At the end of the Spring semester M.A. students will receive an annual progress review letter which incorporates information from both the portfolio meeting and the annual departmental review of graduate students. Based on the result of these annuals review, M.A. candidates will be informed whether they can continue in the program, advance into the Ph.D. program, or will be awarded a terminal M.A.

Cultural Resource Management - Archaeology Focus

Most archaeological excavations and surveys are conducted as cultural resource management (CRM), so it is essential that all researchers who work with archaeological data and individuals committed to site preservation have a basic understanding of CRM. Students who select this focus area learn about the field and how to address related ethical issues as well as technical and theoretical challenges.

Students must complete the archaeological core graduate seminar. They also must complete a research paper, which is an archaeological study with a substantive data analysis directed toward an explicit archaeological research problem, suitable to meet the section three requirement for the Registry of Professional Archaeologist application form.

The cultural resource management—archaeology focus requires a total of 30 s.h., including 24 s.h. of coursework and 6 s.h. of independent research or thesis credit.