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Laurel Carpenter
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Graduate Programs


"Dream 2" by Victor Ekpuk

The Department of Anthropology's small size combines the best of both worlds: the intimacy of a small liberal-arts college department and the intellectual strength of a major research institution. Graduate training is based on core courses in the history, theories, and methods of anthropology and opportunities to pursue a wide range of theoretical, ethnographic and archaeological interests. Our graduate students specialize in either sociocultural anthropology or anthropological archaeology. Training for independent research is stressed, with particular emphasis on theoretical issues and fieldwork. 

Graduate Degree Options

For all applicants:

  • Master of Arts in Anthropology
  • Joint M.A. in Anthropology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Ph.D. with a concentration in Archaeology

In addition to the degrees above, the following is offered to current Brandeis Master's students and alumni:

  • Ph.D. with a concentration in Sociocultural Anthropology


Sociocultural Anthropology

  • Areas of faculty specialization in sociocultural anthropology include economic anthropology and development, gender and sexuality, linguistic and semiotic anthropology, medical anthropology, religion and ritual, global and transnational processes, urban anthropology, political ecology, colonialism and postcoloniality, citizenship and the state, anthropology of finance, psychological anthropology, personhood and experience, and inequalities and social justice.
  • Geographic areas of faculty research include Latin America, North America, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and Oceania.
  • Interdisciplinary course work and study with faculty in other departments enable our students to pursue cross-disciplinary interests, language training, and focused regional studies.


  • Concentrates on the development of complex societies, emphasizing Mesoamerica.
  • Areas of faculty specialization include theories and methods in archaeology, Mesoamerican civilizations with a particular focus on the Maya and Zapotec cultures, the archaeology of power and inequality, borderlands and landscape, meaning and material culture, writing systems, bioarchaeology and human osteology, GIS (geographic information systems), and the modern contexts of archaeological research.
  • Students may take classes with the faculty of the seven major Boston-area universities that comprise the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology (CMRAE). Some also work with archaeologists in Brandeis’ Department of Classical Studies.

Program Highlights

  • Generous scholarships are available for master’s students, and Ph.D. students receive full tuition waivers and fellowships renewable for a total of five years.
  • Financial support for independent research is available for M.A. and Ph.D. students in both sociocultural and archaeological anthropology. Students have performed research in locations around the United States and abroad, including recently in Cameroon, China, Cuba, Denmark, Germany, India, Japan, Kentucky, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Samoa, and South Africa.
  • Formal training in research design and internal support for pilot studies help students achieve a high success rate in securing a variety of awards, including Fulbright, National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research grants to support their dissertation projects.
  • Graduate students take an active part in the Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar (BARS).
  • Our students also have the ability to take courses at other major research universities in the Boston area.

Career Preparation

We are committed to mentoring our master’s students for successful admission into our own and other doctoral programs. At the same time, we prepare students for careers in the non-profit sector and elsewhere. Our Ph.D. students and alumni are active in delivering papers at professional conferences, publishing books and articles, and moving on to productive teaching and research careers. We invite you to explore our M.A. and Ph.D. student and alumni accomplishments.