applied anthropology in action
Info for Current MA Students ← Department of Anthropology

Info for Current MA Students

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Welcome to the Applied Anthropology MA program at HSU! This program focuses on building reward­ing, rel­e­vant, com­pet­i­tive, mar­ketable skills that will help you apply your passion. As such, this program is rigorous yet flexible, and the faculty and staff are dedicated to helping you succeed. Below you will find various resources to help guide you through the program. Keep an eye on this page, as information is regularly added and updated. Current students – after the Summer Institute, also see “MA Applied Anth HUB” on Moodle (go to the “Moodle Menu” when you are in your Moodle home, and select “Ongoing Courses”).

View the current Class Schedule
Download the MA Planning Worksheet/Contract
MA Applied Anth Hub on Moodle (Current Students, after Summer)

Incoming Students

If you have just been accepted into the program – congratulations! Here is what’s next:

  • At your earliest convenience, please email the MA program ( to let us know if you plan to attend.
  • If you have not already, you should shortly be receiving a paper letter in the mail that acknowledges your application and provides instructions on how to log in to the HSU Student Center. Once you have log-in access, you can find the log in link at the top of the HSU homepage. Once you log in, you can navigate to the Student Center where you will be able to see a list of any outstanding application materials you might need. Be sure to promptly complete any items on the “To Do” list. Please contact Graduate Studies if you have questions about this material, or if you do not receive your log in information.
  • Once your application is complete, you will receive a paper letter in the mail with an official offer of admission as well as information on how to complete other pre-term requirements. Around this time you will also be able to log in to the Student Center and officially accept admissions.
  • Once you accept admission (through the Student Center), you will be assigned an initial academic advisor. Your advisor will be chosen based on your area of interest and faculty availability and may change during/after the Summer Institute based on thesis focus. Your advisor will serve as your thesis chair.
  • If you have not done so already, be sure to apply for financial aid if you are eligible and so desire. Application deadlines are well in advance of the Summer Institute. Please see Finances & Awards for more information.
  • If you have not done so already, be sure to apply for HSU Anthropology Department Scholarships by April 15. Please see Finances & Awards for more information.
  • After confirming acceptance, it is time to start planning accommodations for the on-campus Summer Institute if you have not done so already. See the Class Schedule for detailed dates and registration information. Students may apply to HSU Housing + Dining services to explore on and off-campus housing options during the Summer Institute and any other time that they decide to reside on campus.
  • All incoming first-year students that have accepted admissions in the Student Center will be automatically enrolled in both of the Summer Institute courses during mid-May; fees will also be due in May (see Class Schedule for details). Students expecting a financial aid award for the Summer may be able to request a fee deferment from the College of eLearning and Extended Education (CEEE) if necessary to arrange payment at a later date before the Summer Institute. Please inquire at the CEEE Office (Student Business Services, 2nd floor), or call (707) 826-3731.
  • After logging in to HSU, one of the resources (menu in top right) will be Canvas. Canvas is our online course delivery system where you can find discussion forums as well as course pages with syllabi, etc… Be sure to go to the course Canvas page to view course materials and assignments, which will be available in June. Several preparatory assignments will need to be completed during June and submitted prior to or on the first day of the Summer Institute.

Are you wondering what you can do to prepare for the Summer Institute?

A great (and exciting) way to start the program on track would be to start thinking about the topic that you would like to explore for your MA thesis! You may have already identified a specific topic/project in your statement of purpose, or you may still be refining your ideas. Please take some time prior to the Summer Institute to consider research areas you are interested in. When coming up with ideas, it might help to briefly list for each: (1) Your questions/hypotheses; (2) What methods could address your questions; (3) What elective courses/internship experiences might be useful for such a project; and (4) If the project could be completed within a reasonable timeframe. You do not need to have your thesis topic solidified before the program, but it will be useful to have a strong idea of what direction you are heading, and some potential thesis ideas on hand. Have fun with this!

Another way to start preparing for the Summer Institute is to work on collecting articles that relate to you area of interest. These will come in handy when you start building your annotated bibliography.

Additional Information for Current Students

View information about the Anthropology Department faculty and facilities & resources.

Enrollment and Registration:

All incom­ing first-year stu­dents that have accepted admis­sions in the Student Center will be auto­mat­i­cally enrolled in both ofthe Summer Institute courses (see Class Schedule for details). After the Summer Institute, stu­dents will choose to con­tinue as either full-time or part-time. Registration information for Fall/Spring enroll­ment infor­ma­tion will be pro­vided dur­ing or prior to the Summer Institute and on the Class Schedule webpage.

MA students that would like to take non-program courses at HSU will need to reg­is­ter using the Open University pol­icy. MA stu­dents wanting to take non-program courses are encour­aged to con­tact course instruc­tors prior to the begin­ning of the term to inform the instruc­tor of their inter­est in the course and inquire if a spot may be held. For more infor­ma­tion on cur­rent non-program courses, see the HSU Catalog and the HSU class sched­ule.

If the thesis/program requirements are not expected to be completed according to the standard timeline, students are required to enroll in at least one unit (usually Anth 690) each fall and spring until requirements are completed (to maintain university continuous enrollment requirements). Extension of thesis completion deadlines past the standard timeline must also be approved by the advisor and Graduate Coordinator. If students complete all 6 thesis units before the thesis is completed, students shall enroll in one unit (x693) per semester to maintain Graduate Continuous Enrollment.

Students must file a formal Leave of Absence application if they are unable to continue enrollment. Leave of absence may not last more than one year at a time (maximum 2 years total). If a student needs to drop out of the cohort and has exhausted leave of absence limits, the student will need to reapply to the program to return. If readmitted, the student will be subject to new program requirements. Coursework / requirements completed more than seven years prior may not be applied to the degree unless currency is demonstrated.

Students are advised to regularly consult the CEEE Calendar for important dates and deadlines.

Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation:

Students are to apply for Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation early in the semester prior to expected graduation – for example, at the beginning of the Spring semester for graduation in the following Fall semester. You can file for Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation in the semester you intend to graduate, but this may not leave adequate time to plan and meet all other deadlines. Students wishing to walk in the May graduation ceremony are advised to keep a close eye on HSU Activities & Deadlines – deadlines are very early Spring semester for walking in the ceremony.

Requirements to advance to candidacy include: Classified standing (cleared admission deficiencies, if applicable); Completed a minimum of 12 units of coursework for your program; Cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better in all courses taken as a graduate student; Approval of plan to use humans or animals as subjects for research, if applicable (a copy of the IRB/IACUC approval letter must be attached to candidacy paperwork). Be sure to start the IRB/IACUC process early (recommended in the semester prior to application). Please see the Graduate Studies website to confirm requirements.

When applying for Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation, the student names all members of the thesis committee and outlines how program requirements will be fulfilled by the intended graduation date. Changes to the thesis committee or thesis topic made after filing for Advancement to Candidacy may be made using the Request for Program Variation or Waiver form. Changes to graduation date made after filing for Advancement to Candidacy may be made using the Graduation Date Change Request form through the Office of the Registrar.

Financial Aid:

In addition to seeking external funding, students are encouraged to contact the HSU Financial Aid office for information about available grants, loans, scholarships and work study. Graduate students are advised to directly contact the graduate student financial aid liaison, Maria-Elena Whaples at (707) 826-5373, or Graduate Studies also maintains a list of Fellowships & Scholarships available to graduate students. Be sure apply for HSU Anthropology Department Scholarships and TA’ships by April 1 of each year (for that Summer and the following Fall and Spring). Please see Finances & Awards for more information, and the FAFSA website for FAFSA applications details and deadlines.

Housing + Dining:

Students may apply to HSU Housing + Dining services to explore on and off-campus housing options during the Summer Institute and any other time that they decide to reside on campus.

Field Placement (Internship):

Students are required to complete 180 hours of applied anthropological field work. The field placement (aka internship) may take place at one or more advisor-approved locations that provide learning/training relevant to your thesis or career path. With advisor approval, field schools may be used to fulfill all or part of the internship hours. The internship may start as early as the first fall semester (after the Summer Institute) or proceed into the following summer. Internship hours should begin no later than the first spring semester in the MA program, unless a solid plan is in place to complete the hours during the directly proceeding summer. The field placement will follow the HSU Policy on Academic Internship and policies set forth by the HSU Center for Service Learning and Academic Internships (CSLAI). All students will be enrolled in the internship Moodle site (in the Ongoing Courses section of Moodle) during their first fall in the program – this site contains information and protocols pertaining to the internship. Below are some of the forms that will need to be completed prior to beginning the internship:


All students are required to submit a thesis (research- or project-based). Students are guided through the process of thesis development and writing throughout the MA program, according to the following timeline:

  • Discuss and present potential thesis topic ideas (Summer Institute)
  • Establish thesis chair and preliminary thesis plan (Full-time 1st fall, Part-time 2nd Fall)
  • Form thesis committee, gain approval of thesis topic and proposal, complete IRB/IACUC, file for Advancement to Candidacy & Graduation (Full-time 1st Spring, Part-time 2nd Spring). Begin research after IRB/IACUC approval.
  • Complete 6 units of Anth 690 while presenting thesis chapters to advisor/chair and then committee. See thesis format requirements and thesis examples/resources.  (Beginning Full-time 2nd Fall, Part-time 3rd Spring).
    • First, submit completed (well-written, proofed, in thesis format) chapters to your advisor/thesis chair. Allow for a 3-week turnaround between drafts, and plan for at least two rounds of review for each section submitted. It is highly recommended that you submit drafts of your initial chapters (e.g., introduction, background, methods) to your advisor by the beginning of the semester in which you plan to graduate (August / January), and drafts of the remaining chapters (e.g., Results, Discussion) soon after (September / February).
    • After your advisor approves your thesis as complete, submit it to the rest of your committee in full thesis format. Allow for a 3-week turnaround between submissions, and at least one round of review, although more are possible.
  • Complete an in-person/Skype oral defense of thesis after submitting your completed thesis to your committee for final review.
  • Submit thesis to HSU.
  • Current students should also see the MA Applied Anth Hub on Moodle for a detailed timeline and additional information/resources.

Advisor & Thesis Committee:

ADVISOR: Students will be assigned an advisor based on their interests and faculty availability. The advisor may change after the Summer Institute based on student focus. Students are generally expected to work with the same advisor for the duration of the program, but under some circumstances students may switch to another advisor within the department with the approval of the current advisor, proposed advisor, and graduate coordinator.

THESIS COMMITTEE: The thesis committee will have at least two or three members, depending on the scenario, and must be approved by the graduate coordinator and the Dean of Graduate Studies. The thesis committee is officially formed when the student applies for Advancement to Candidacy (the committee is indicated on the application). Changes to the committee thereafter must be made using the Request for Program Variation or Waiver form. Possible scenarios:

  • If your advisor holds a Ph.D. and is a tenured or tenure-track faculty in Anthropology, your thesis committee will be comprised of: (1) your advisor, whom is also the thesis chair; (2) a second HSU faculty member (tenure-track, lecturer, or research associate) with a Ph.D./other terminal (doctoral) degree, either from within or outside of Anthropology; and (3) optional additional advisor-approved members with experience in your research area and a Master’s degree or higher (not required to be affiliated with HSU).
  • If your major advisor/chair is an adjunct (not tenure-track) faculty with a Ph.D./terminal degree, or is in the faculty early retirement program (FERP), your thesis committee will be comprised of: (1) your advisor, whom is also the thesis chair; (2) a tenured/tenure-track HSU Anthropology faculty member; and (3) optional additional advisor-approved members with experience in your research area and a Master’s degree or higher (are not required to be affiliated with HSU).
  • If your advisor holds a Master’s Degree, your thesis committee will be comprised of: (1) your advisor; (2) the official thesis chair, who will be a tenured/tenure-track HSU Anthropology faculty member selected in consultation with your advisor; (3) a third HSU faculty member with a Ph.D./other terminal (doctoral) degree, either from within or outside of Anthropology; and (4) optional additional advisor-approved members with experience in your research area and a Master’s degree or higher (are not required to be affiliated with HSU).

Research Tips:

  • Literature: Peer-reviewed books or journals (periodicals) should be your primary sources. The HSU Library and Google Scholar are good places to start searching.
  • Internet: Be very cautious of non-peer-reviewed information (e.g., Wiki and It is generally not acceptable to cite non-peer-reviewed information to support claims in your thesis; however, such information can be used to demonstrate other things, such as state of general knowledge on a topic. Please consult your instructor, advisor, or thesis committee if you have any question as to the legitimacy of citing this information.
  • ANY idea that is not yours must be cited within the text of your thesis, and with a full citation in your bibliography/works cited.

Mastery of Skills:

Students are expected to have or gain sufficient knowledge in their focus area to complete a quality thesis and become prepared to pursue a career or further graduate research in that area. Students with a thesis/focus in fields wherein a specific skillset is expected may be asked to demonstrate mastery of such skills before the MA is granted. In some cases, this mastery will be demonstrated as an integral part of coursework, internship(s), and the thesis/oral defense. Some foci may also require either time spent on-campus, access to off-campus materials/resources, and/or demonstration of skills mastery to advisor/thesis committee. For example, students with a focus in bioarchaeology will usually be expected to demonstrate strong mastery of skeletal anatomy via in-person examination. Any such requirements should be negotiated with your advisor and thesis committee early in the program.

Online Environment & Resources:

After the Summer Institute, students undertake 30 units of coursework via online distance learning, either full-time (three 10-unit semesters) or part-time (six 4-6-unit semesters). The online coursework will be primarily asynchronous, meaning that students will have flexibility in planning days and times to view course materials/lectures and complete assignments each week.  Students are generally not required to be present on campus after the Summer Institute (some exceptions apply), but those who would like to are welcomed and will have access to departmental facilities.

All resources available to on-campus students are also available to students taking online courses. The Student Center has numerous resources, including the ability to check transcripts, grades, registration dates, and many more items online.

There are numerous online support services. Some of these include:


After logging in to the HSU main website, one of the resources (menu in top right) will be Moodle. Moodle is our online course delivery system where you can find discussion forums as well as course pages with syllabi, required readings, and other materials. Moodle sites for courses you are registered for will be available at the beginning of each term.

Career Services:

The Career Center web site includes resources that help students to explore careers, including job search tools, search engines, and help preparing resumes and planning for interviews. The site on the Center website enables students to find jobs based on geography, culture, area of focus, job function and so on. Students have access 24/7 to the online job board. The Center has also established a Facebook page that has regular updates on career events and jobs. Center staff can work with students at a distance in reviewing drafts of resumes and cover letters using telephone and E-Mail Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Alumni Office also offers interview coaching (mock interviews).


Students have access to the library website where they may access numerous resources. The library provides a wide range of support and access for distance students. Interlibrary loan enables faculty and students to access sources nationally and internationally.  Document delivery is sent via E-Mail.  E-books are available that can be searched, highlighted and notated. Every student is assigned a library account where searches, materials and notes can be stored and accessed online. A complete list of services specifically for graduate students is linked here.

Ethical Conduct:

Students are required to maintain professional conduct and abide by ethical standards, in all aspects of and activities related to the program, in anthropological research and activities, and in all situations where they represent the program and discipline. The department reserves the right to dismiss from the program a student who does not abide by these rules. Please contact the Institutional Review Board for policies and procedures for all projects/research involving human subjects, and the IACUC for projects/research involving nonhuman animal subjects. Data collected before obtaining IRB/IACUC approval may not be used for the thesis, and may violate ethical guidelines.

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