Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Master of Arts (M.A.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus

Program Overview

Anthropology is the study of human difference and diversity in the present and the past. In its broad focus on humanity, anthropology brings together the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.

GW anthropology is committed to integrating humanistic and scientific perspectives while pursuing advanced research of the highest quality. A GW Master of Arts in Anthropology signals that the holder can synthesize diverse data about human beings, a skill increasingly valued in a variety of professions and academic settings.

Our graduate programs in anthropology take advantage of the resources available in the nation’s capital, including our 120-year-old relationship with the Smithsonian Institution. Our location places us in a prime position for studying and collaborating with refugee and immigrant communities, policymakers, nongovernmental organizations, the news media and numerous scientific and educational organizations.

The program’s minors and concentrations include:

The international development concentration provides understanding of world problems such as hunger, health, and economic change, thus preparing the student for work in development projects (36-credit hour, non-thesis program normally completed in two years). For details, see international development.

The museum training concentration prepares students for research and careers in the scholarly and curatorial aspects of museum work. Twelve to 15 of the student's 36 hours derive from museum-related courses including internships. More information is available at museum training.

The medical anthropology concentration focuses on cross-cultural patterns of health, illness, and healing within the context of cultural change. Students take at least 15 hours of courses related to medical anthropology and public health.

Students interested in biological anthropology are encouraged to consider the Master of Science program in  Human Paleobiology.

PhD in Anthropology

Doctor of Philosophy in the field of anthropology trains students in the four fields of sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and biological anthropology while providing training in areas of more specialized interest. Students pursue independent research in preparation to become practicing anthropologists. The curriculum develops intellectual creativity, effective communication skills, and rigorous scholarship with a focus on applying anthropological theory and method to the study of contemporary social problems.

All students are strongly encouraged to complete an internship where they communicate anthropology to a general public. Students admitted to the program receive a fellowship and may take advantage of GW’s partnerships with the Smithsonian Institution and Washington, D.C.’s archival collections and policy-making institutions. All PhD candidates must complete a dissertation that demonstrates their ability to do original research.

Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines:

Fall – Ph.D.: January 15: M.A.: February 1
Spring – October 1 (M.A. only)

Standardized test scores:

GRE general test (institutional code 5246). Waived for applicants who hold a J.D., M.D., or Ph.D.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE Academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university in the United States or from an institution located in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction. 

Minimum scores for the PhD program are:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual score below 6.0; or
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based or 100 on Internet-based;  or
  • PTE Academic: 68;

Minimum scores for the M.A. program are:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 6.0 with no individual score below 5.0; or
  • TOEFL: 550 on paper-based or 80 on Internet-based;  or
  • PTE Academic: 53

Applicants to the M.A. who do not meet minimum English language requirements may be eligible for our full-time Applied English Language program.

Recommendations required:

M.A. - Two (2) recommendations
Ph.D. - Three (3), at least two of which should be from faculty familiar with the applicant's scholarship.

Prior academic records:

Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be uploaded to your online application. Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.

If transcripts are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided. The English translation alone should be uploaded into your application.

Statement of purpose:

In an essay of 250 – 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests, and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application. If you are applying for an assistantship or fellowship, you should also describe any teaching experience you have had.

International applicants only:

Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents, earlier deadlines for applicants requiring an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, and English language requirements.

For more information on the admission process, please visit the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Frequently Asked Questions page.

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Admissions Office
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 107
Washington DC 20052

Contact for questions:
[email protected] ~ 202.994.6210 (phone) - 202.994.6213 (fax)
8:30 am – 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday