The Doctoral Program in Anthropology at MSU is designed to prepare students for careers as professional anthropologists in a variety of job settings, including academia, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, non-profit foundations, and private industry.


The graduate program in archaeology at Michigan State University encompasses a broad range of potential research specialties, with students engaged in fieldwork, collections research, and heritage management in North and Mesoamerica, Europe, the Mediterranean, sub-Sahara Africa, and the Near East. Program faculty have expertise in landscape archaeology, cultural heritage, frontiers, mortuary archaeology, gender, experimental archaeology, digital archaeology, the foraging/farming transition, and paleoenvironmental change, among others. Graduate students successfully compete for external funding from multiple sources, including the National Science Foundation, Wenner Gren Foundation, Fulbright Hays and IIE, FLAS, as well as programmatic and institutional sources. The archaeology graduate program has strong linkages to MSU area study centers, the MSU Museum, MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, and other university departments, as well as collaborative inter-institutional research ties, which provides our students with a flexible choice of individual program options tailored to their specific interests. Important institutionally centered programs include the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative (CHI), Campus Archaeology (CAP), and MSU Museum curation. Archaeology program participants are expected to enroll in the anthropology department core graduate curriculum, in addition to specialized archaeological theory and methods requirements. Graduates of the MSU archaeology program are employed in academia, government, and the private sector. Archaeology program faculty invite and welcome communication from prospective graduate students with aligned research interests.

Medical Anthropology

The Medical Anthropology graduate program at MSU distinguishes itself by its focus on the culture of biomedicine, ethnomedical systems, and health disparities within the larger political, social, and cultural contexts of the US and abroad. The program is research oriented and introduces students to major theoretical approaches to health, illness, and society. The depth of qualitative and critical analysis medical anthropologists bring to interdisciplinary teams of researchers and healthcare practitioners is widely sought after. The Medical Anthropology program attracts not only excellent students, but also a diverse group of students from a broad cross-section of other disciplines. Training in the program includes graduate seminars in medical anthropology and course work tailored to meet students’ individual research interests. The graduate students in medical anthropology have an excellent record of attracting major extramural funding. Graduates hold faculty positions in the U.S. and abroad as well as in government and non-governmental organizations. Several graduate students in medical anthropology have pursued joint degrees or additional certifications from other departments at MSU, such as Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Master of Public Health, or a Certificate in Bioethics. The Medical Anthropology faculty have specific collaborations with a variety of center and institutes across MSU, including African Studies Center, American Indian Studies, Asian Studies Center, Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Center for Women in Global Context, Chicano Latino Studies, Julian Samora Research Institute, and the Program in Public Health.

Physical Anthropology

The graduate program in physical anthropology at Michigan State University has three specialties: forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, and the human biology of contemporary populations. During the past decade physical anthropology at MSU has risen to national prominence in research, graduate education, and outreach. The reputation of the program has been elevated by publications that appear in top journals and significant edited volumes; external funding for research through competitive grants; the recruitment of top student applicants from across the world; faculty holding the highest offices in national organizations; and through significant forensic contributions to medical examiner offices and law enforcement agencies. This national reputation is also reflected in the number of national awards recently won by the program’s students and faculty. Students in the program have the opportunity to train in numerous dedicated laboratories: the MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory, the MSU Bioarchaeology Laboratory, the Mis Island Nubian Skeletal Collection, and the MSU Biomarker Laboratory for Anthropological Research. MSU physical anthropology also has a strong international presence as demonstrated by its research initiatives: 1) Bioarchaeological research projects in Central America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and East Africa; 2) Human biology research projects in Africa and South America; and 3) Collaboration with scholars and students from foreign universities and research institutes. MSU physical anthropology is committed to interdisciplinary efforts across the University and beyond. In keeping with the goals of STEM research, we have developed significant research linkages with the Forensic Science Masters Program, the Colleges of Human Medicine at MSU, the MSU College of Engineering, and Sparrow Hospital. Within the anthropology department, physical anthropology has strong linkages with the archaeology faculty, who are members on many graduate student committees. Graduates of the MSU physical anthropology program are employed in academia, federal agencies (including JPAC-CILHI), and medical examiner offices. The physical anthropology faculty welcomes communication from prospective graduate students with aligned research interests.

Sociocultural & Linguistics Anthropology

The department’s sociocultural and linguistic anthropologists have collaborated programmatically across the last decade and a half. Building on a shared focus on discourse and the exploration of how power works in and through language, sociocultural and linguistic faculty created the department’s successful Culture, Resources, and Power program in the late 1990s. Sociocultural and linguistic anthropology faculty have recently begun to revise their program to better reflect current areas of overlap in their research, which have changed due to retirements and new hires, as well as the emergence of new issues and the initiation of new research projects. Faculty across these two subfields have identified research strengths that intersect in the following three broadly defined thematic areas: Mapping Global Circulations and Identities; Knowledge, History and Critique; and New Governmental Environments: Development, Rights, and Justice. Currently, twelve regular faculty members, an Academic Specialist, and one fixed-term position are associated with these particular areas of expertise.

Interdisciplinary Work

Graduate students in our department can take advantage of a wide range of MSU resources that support interdisciplinary work. Our graduate students’ guidance committees include faculty from many other departments at MSU. Anthropology graduate students are encouraged, with the consent of their guidance committees, to complete a cognate in a field outside the department. Similarly, the Department offers a cognate in Anthropology to individuals with majors in other disciplines.

The Department of Anthropology participates in several interdepartmental Graduate Specializations. Students in these interdisciplinary programs may be in either a Master’s Degree or a Doctoral Degree program, and can elect Anthropology as their major field or as a cognate field. Examples include: the interdisciplinary Specialization in Infancy and Early Childhood and the interdepartmental Master of Science degree in Forensic Science-Master of Science which includes a specialization in Forensic Anthropology.

Many of our graduate students have obtained certificates of specialization through such interdisciplinary centers as the African Studies Center; the Center for Gender in Global Context; and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Other interdisciplinary graduate specializations offered by the College of Social Science are listed here College of Social Science Graduate Specializations. The full range of MSU specializations can be found at Academic Programs – Graduate Specializations. The Graduate Program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior offers a dual degree available to students enrolled in our department.

Many of our students take MSU courses outside the department. MSU graduate students also have the option to enroll in certain courses offered by the Big Ten universities, which form part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance described at

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