Master’s Program

Gain a broad knowledge of anthropological theory and research methods through our Master of Arts (MA) program in Anthropology at UBC Vancouver.

The MA in Anthropology at UBC is based upon a combination of coursework, research, and a thesis. Full-time MA candidates typically complete their thesis by the end of the second year, and some complete into their third year. However, in special circumstances, students may take up to five years to complete their MA.

MA Degree Requirements

UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies specifies that candidates may receive an MA after successfully completing at least 30 credits of coursework (including 24 credits at the graduate level) and submitting a piece of written work, usually a thesis, within a five-year period.

Coursework Requirements for the MA

  • ANTH 500 History of Anthropological Thought (6 credits)
  • ANTH 506 Current Research in Anthropology (3 credits)
  • An advanced anthropological methods course in the appropriate areas of ethnographic, archaeological, or museological research (ANTH 516, 517, or 518) (3 credits)
  • Two additional three credit courses: at least three credits of which are encouraged to be in Anthropology
  • At least six additional credits of elective courses (6 credits)

In addition, students must submit an approved thesis proposal, and then a thesis (6 credits)

Once a supervisory committee has been formed, its members and the student must meet to complete a Graduate Program Record. It must be submitted to the Anthropology Graduate Studies Committee (AGSC) for approval before the end of the first term. Any changes in the program, including changes in coursework, must be promptly recorded in the Graduate Program Record.

Students are expected to maintain the highest academic standards during their MA studies. UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has set 60% (a “C”) as a passing grade. However, no more than six credits of grades below 68% (a “B-”) can be counted towards the program; all other courses must achieve a minimum of 68%.

The Department of Anthropology sets 75% (a “B”) as the passing grade for its core graduate seminar, ANTH 500, and the required methodology course. Students who fail a course normally are required to repeat it or choose a suitable replacement (except in the case of ANTH 500) and achieve at least a grade of 74%. Students who consistently receive poor grades may be required to repeat courses, undertake additional coursework, or withdraw from the program.

Students who fail to complete a satisfactory proposal within two years may also be required to withdraw. Students who have not completed their thesis by the end of the third year may have their progress evaluated as unsatisfactory.

All graduate students in the program are evaluated in December and again in April by the AGSC based upon reports provided by supervisors and course instructors. If the student’s progress is deemed unsatisfactory, the AGSC may recommend to the Department that permission to register be denied.

UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies allows leaves for personal, or medical reasons. Graduate students may also receive parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Leave requests must be submitted by the Graduate Advisor and reviewed by the Dean of UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. 

Resident MA students interested in continuing on to the PhD program at UBC must apply for admission, providing the same application materials as non-UBC MA students and meeting the same deadlines. Students must complete all requirements for their MA before registering in the PhD program at UBC.

An MA student will be fast-tracked into the PhD program only upon the recommendation of the student’s supervisory committee with approval from the Anthropology Graduate Studies Committee (AGSC).

MA Thesis

All MA candidates must complete a thesis in their area of specialization. Students register for the thesis as a six-credit course (ANTH 549) after completing all other course requirements and submitting a thesis proposal approved by their committee.

MA theses should be based upon original field research that may also consist of digital and/or virtual ethnography. Alternatively, a student may contribute towards intellectual discussion by preparing a critical analysis of the literature on a subject.

MA thesis proposal is 50 pages (double-spaced, 12-point font) maximum, not including references and abstract. Students in Museum Studies may also prepare a museum exhibit in addition to the written MA thesis.

The student should begin working on a thesis proposal as soon as possible.

Once approved by the Advisor, a copy of the proposal must be submitted to the Anthropology Graduate Studies Committee (AGSC).

Students normally complete their proposals at the end of their first year or early in the first term of their second year. The thesis proposal must be approved no later than the end of the second year. Students who fail to complete a satisfactory proposal within two years may also be required to withdraw.

When all the committee members agree that the thesis is acceptable, a copy is submitted to the Anthropology Graduate Studies Committee (AGSC) by the Advisor, along with a memo stating that the thesis is ready to be evaluated by a third reader. The AGSC appoints an additional faculty member as the MA Review Committee (MARC reader) for a final reading and evaluation. At least three weeks must be allowed for this review.

Upon completion of the review, the full committee, including the MARC reader, meets to discuss the thesis. The committee may (1) pass the thesis as it is; (2) pass the thesis requiring minor corrections and revisions; (3) require an additional round of major revisions and re-evaluation of the thesis; (4) fail the thesis.

Once the committee agrees to either pass or fail the thesis, the MARC reader writes a short report to the AGSC and reports the results of the evaluation.

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