MA in Anthropology

Connect theory and practice to help solve some of the world’s most complex and pressing problems in an emerging specialization within the health-related professions with a concentration in Medical Anthropology.

Customize your education with high-impact experiential learning and extracurricular activities to develop the skills that employers demand. The Department of Anthropology’s faculty and professional staff members will introduce you to new professional networks in the industries and organizations that interest you the most.

Infographic that says, 10 Skills Employers Want : 1. Research 2. Leadership 3. Professional Conduct 4. Oral Communication 5. Written Communication 6. Global Perspective 7. Critical Thinking 8. Teamwork 9. Data Collection and Analytics 10. Diversity and Cultural Appreciation .

Be career ready.

  • Understand the environmental and sociocultural factors in disease, disability and human health
  • Enhance your ability to listen and communicate effectively, essential skills for success in the health professions
  • Conduct original research on narratives and practices of health and illness, ethnomedicine and ethnopsychiatry, questions of suffering and personhood, and applied medical anthropology

Employers often cite the skills profile of applicants as the most important factor in their recruitment and job offer decisions.

Here is how we help you develop 10 critical skills:

1. Research

Experience first-hand the foundation of Medical Anthropology: original research. In addition to class projects, students work with faculty members on real-world projects in our community and throughout the world.

Master’s students can apply for up $1,500 in support for research-related projects through the Mark Diamond Research Fund. Department of Anthropology 2017-2018 recipients include:

  • Kaitlin Ahern, (Tim Chevral, advisor) “Monumental Foundations: An Investigation of the Preclassic Development of Civic-Ceremonial Plazas in the Cival Region, Guatemala”
  • Mark Conaway, (Noreen Von Cramon-Taubadel, advisor)  “Quantification of integration in the hominoid postcranium in reference to evolutionary history and functional independence”
  • Amandine Eriksen, (Noreen Von Cramon-Taubadel, advisor)  “An Integrative Assessment of the Pattern and Causes of Bilateral Asymmetry Across the Human Skeleton”
  • Ashlee Hart, (Peter Biehl, advisor) “Convening Cultures in Ancient Thrace: An Evaluation of Interaction on Ceramic Technological Choice from Iron Age Bulgaria"
  • Brittany Kenyon, (Joyce Sirianni, advisor) “Morphological and Taxonomic Assessment in Macaques: a 3D Geometric Morphometric Approach”
  • Laura LaBarge, (Carol Berman, advisor, EEB program) “The Ecology of Fear in Wild Samango Monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis schwarzi)”
  • Heather Rosch, (Peter Biehl, advisor) “Multi-Scalar Analyses of Ottoman Ceramics in Rural Southwestern Anatolia”

Students can participate in interdisciplinary and inter-organizational projects. For example, a recently published study on the impact of controlling negative emotions and the ability for pregnant smokers to quit was conducted by faculty members from the UB Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions, St. John’s University, Syracuse University; and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. The study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Health’s Office of Research on Women’s Health.

2. Leadership

Rise to the challenge by gaining experience and leadership skills in some of the hundreds of University at Buffalo extracurricular and governance organizations, civic groups and volunteer activities.

Join like-minded peers in the UB Anthropology Graduate Student Association and participate in poster competitions, travel to conferences, network and have some fun with colleagues.

Prove your abilities and make powerful industry connections through participation in regional and national professional organizations. For example:

3. Professional Conduct

Gain insight into the demands and expectations of employers through credit-bearing and, in some cases, paid internships. Students displaying knowledge, professionalism and a solid work ethic are oftentimes offered full-time positions.

Below are just a few of the organizations that regularly seek UB student interns and graduates:

  • Buffalo Urban League
  • Buffalo Museum of Science
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • NYS Department of Labor
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • Veterans Administration
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • St. Louis Science Center
  • U.S. Air Force
  • National Board of Medical Examiners
  • National Institute of Health
  • The Cleveland Clinic
  • NYS Division of Human Rights
  • Tribune Media Services International

4. Oral Communication

Practice professional presentation and public speaking skills in seminar classes before you take the stage at regional and national conferences. For example:

  • In Dental Anthropology (APY 545) students are required to present on various dental topics, e.g., dental adaptations to diet, evolutionary trends in hominid tooth size, ethnic differences in tooth morphology and size
  • In Human Genetics-Legal Ethics (APY 548) students actively participate in informed discussions covering recent advances in genetic technology that have presented the scientific and lay community with ethical and legal problems and other concerns relating to contemporary human/medical issues
  • In Geographic Medicine (APY 710), students research, prepare and present selected topics in seminars and develop a poster presentation on a topic of choice that integrates anthropology, environment, and medicine. The course is team-taught by a medical anthropologist and a physician who has done research in many countries and is an expert in travelers' medicine.  

5. Written Communication

Enhance your ability to author effective critical communication pieces through required class projects, research papers, poster presentations and articles submitted for review and publication by professional organizations.

Showcase your research, fieldwork, study abroad programs and internships at the Annual Department of Anthropology Student Poster Competition. In 2017-2018, the following poster presentations were recognized for outstanding scholarship:

  • First Place: Amandine Erikson, “Patterns of Fluctuating Asymmetry in the Human Skeleton”
  • Second Place: Stefan Kienzle, “Reconciling Change: Post-Socialist Regressions and Environmental Transformations on the Farms and Fisheries of the Former Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union”
  • Third Place: Brittany Kenyon, “A Tale of Two Species: A Geometric Morphometric Analysis of Macaca mulatta and Macaca fascicularis crania”

Connect with peers and faculty member through the Department of Anthropology’s active Facebook account or join the discussion on a national level by following #medicalanthropology on Instagram.

6. Global Perspective

Obtain a comprehensive understanding of human diversity by developing a global lens. Students often participate in international field schools and study abroad experiences to further their understanding of the human condition in different contexts.

While on campus, take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with global-minded scholars and students through numerous groups and centers such as:

7. Critical Thinking

Use logic and reasoning to solve complex problems by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches.

Medical anthropologists typically intersect with other disciplines in the social sciences, humanities and medical sciences, allowing cross-disciplinary scholarship and academic exchanges. Acquire in-depth knowledge of health-related issues in courses offered by the UB School of Public Health and Health professions, the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the School of Nursing.

Expand your theoretical and methodical perspectives through interactions with affiliate faculty members from across UB and leading universities across the country. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from, conduct research and network with scholars such as:

  • Raymond P. Dannenhoffer, Associate Dean for Support Service, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Research Interests: Physical anthropology, demography, heritability of infertility
  • Linda S. Kahn, Professor, Primary Care Research Institute, Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; Research Interests: Medical anthropology, health disparities, chronic illness, mental illness, community-based participatory research, North American society
  • Jennifer Muller, Associate Professor and Assistant Chair, Department of Anthropology, Ithaca College; Research Interests:  biological anthropology, bioarchaeology, human paleopathology, forensic anthropology, trauma-related morbidity and mortality, health disparities in disenfranchised people

8. Teamwork

9. Data Collection and Analytics

Design and execute an approved research project, developed in consultation with your faculty adviser, that results in a research paper or thesis. Submit outstanding work and present at regional and national conferences. Examples of recent student research projects include:

  • A project comparing the outcomes of faith-based and secular counseling programs for treating opioid addiction in Buffalo
  • A study examining the impact of parental opioid addictions on child welfare in Buffalo
  • A project examining the impact of the tourism economy on traditional healing practices in a village in the Yucatan province of Mexico
  • A study of medical students’ attitudes and beliefs about chronic kidney failure

The Department of Anthropology encourages your intellectual curiosity and unique interests. For example, do you have an interest in the science of evolution? The Buffalo Human Evolutionary Morphology lab is dedicated to research that combines the theoretical and analytical principles of evolutionary quantitative genetics with the empirical and methodological techniques of statistical shape analysis. These researchers are interested in how morphological variation evolves, both under neutral stochastic parameters and as a result of non-neutral selective forces. 

10. Diversity and Cultural Appreciation

Gain an in-depth understanding of the issues surrounding diversity, a hallmark of UB’s Medical Anthropology program. Coursework provides opportunities for students to study human evolutionary processes, cultural and social changes and conduct comparative studies of people from wide-ranging geographic and historic places.

National and international scholars frequently come to campus to present guest lectures and participate in conferences to expose students to a multitude of world views. Recent visitors include:

How much can you earn?

Bar graph, Salary: $99,580, High; $62,000 Average base salary; $36,000 Low.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for anthropologists was $62,280 in May 2017. The highest 10% earned more than $99,000.

What career is in your future?


* Consultant
* Data Analyst
* Epidemiologist
* Forensic Pathologist
* Healthcare Administrator
* Health Researcher
* Medical Caseworker
* Medical Scientist
* Medical Director
* Program Manager
* Research Assistant
* Social Policy Analyst

Infographic that says 108 people committed to your success; 15 Faculty members, 68 Peer graduate learners; 3 Professional staff, 22 affiliate faculty members.

The program you want is offered here.

The University at Buffalo offers one of only four graduate programs in Medical Anthropology in New York State, and the only such program in Western New York. 

The MA in Medical Anthropology consists of 30 credit hours, most of these taken in formal courses, a research project and a research paper or thesis based on that project.

Learn more about Admissions requirements and deadlines.

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