Joint M.A. in Anthropology and Women's and Gender Studies

The master of arts degree in anthropology and women's and gender studies offers students the opportunity to pursue inquiry into anthropology with a particular emphasis on women, gender and/or sexuality. The program provides theoretical grounding in both anthropology and gender studies and emphasizes cross-cultural investigation, intensive training for independent research and ethnographic fieldwork. The joint master's degree may be pursued independently or in conjunction with a Ph.D. in anthropology.

Students study closely with Brandeis anthropology faculty and women's and gender studies faculty from across the university. Strengths of the anthropology department include women's, gender and sexuality studies, economic anthropology and development, global and transnational processes, linguistic anthropology, semiotic systems, the emerging cultures of cyberspace, medical anthropology, psychological anthropology and religion and ritual. Geographical strengths of the department include Latin America, North America, Africa, East Asia and South Asia. Brandeis women's and gender studies faculty and alumni are in the vanguard of feminist scholarship worldwide.

Why Earn a Joint M.A. Degree?

Apart from intellectual curiosity and gratification, there are some practical reasons to seek the joint M.A. degree:

Enhanced credentials for a doctoral program: The M.A. will significantly enhance your qualifications if you plan to pursue a full-time doctoral program; this can be especially useful if you seek to enter graduate school in a field outside your undergraduate major.

Material benefits: Having the M.A. enhances your qualifications and pay in most public and private organizations.

Test the water: The one-year M.A. can help you decide whether the academic path is right for you — before you invest a great deal of time and resources in a multiyear doctoral program.

Professional opportunities: The joint M.A. degree can promote a number of professional opportunities in diverse fields such as development, policy, teaching (at community colleges, high schools and elsewhere), business and research. Students who later receive a Ph.D. in anthropology find that the formal degree in women's and gender studies opens up additional academic opportunities.

Transferable skills: The emphasis on research and writing will give you skills that are critical for every career path.

Why Brandeis?

While it is possible to earn an M.A. at many fine institutions, there are many compelling reasons why you should consider studying at Brandeis:

A unique opportunity: Brandeis is one of the only universities in the world offering a joint M.A. degree in anthropology and women's and gender studies.

First-class training: The joint-degree program is highly selective and offers exceptional training in both anthropology and women's and gender studies; at the same time, it promotes critical thinking and research and writing skills.

Dedicated mentoring: Brandeis is a small research university with an emphasis on small classes and genuine mentorship; each student has the opportunity to work closely with one or more distinguished scholars. At Brandeis, master's and doctoral students participate in the same courses, ensuring a lively and challenging intellectual community.

Scholarships: To enable qualified students to attend Brandeis, the graduate school has a need-based scholarship fund that allows a partial reduction in the cost of tuition and fees. Master's students can also apply to Brandeis, departmental and women's and gender studies fellowship competitions for research funds. Advanced master's students can be offered teaching assistant and research assistant opportunities. The women's and gender studies program offers modest financial support for those students who cannot otherwise afford child care to enable them to attend courses required for the joint M.A. degree.

Intellectual community: The Department of Anthropology and the women's and gender studies program provide a rich curriculum of more than 100 courses open to graduate students pursuing a joint M.A. In addition, students may cross-register at Boston University, Tufts University or the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both the Department of Anthropology and the women's and gender studies program sponsor distinguished lectures and workshops throughout the year.

Career support: The Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis helps students identify opportunities, design an effective resumé and prepare for interviews.

Library resources: Students can avail themselves of the strong collections at the Goldfarb Library on campus as well as collections at major libraries in Greater Boston through the Boston Library Consortium. Graduate students also have full access to many nearby manuscript repositories.

Boston and Waltham: Brandeis students partake of the rich intellectual and cultural environment of the Boston area — from a plethora of events at area universities to the array of museums and other institutions in metropolitan Boston. The anthropology department and WGS program also maintain close contacts with diverse organizations and groups in Waltham and Greater Boston, allowing for rich fieldwork opportunities.

The Joint M.A. Curriculum

The joint M.A. in anthropology and women's and gender studies has the following degree requirements. Students may complete the program in one year or extend their studies over three or four semesters.

  • One full year of coursework (eight semester courses).

  • A substantial master’s research paper based on original primary and/or secondary research.

  • Coursework:

    • ANTH 201a History of Anthropological Thought (or ANTH 203b Contemporary Anthropological Theory, by petition).

    • ANTH 244a Gender and Sexuality Seminar   (or ANTH 144a Anthropology of Gender, by petition).

    • WMGS 205a or another course designated as a graduate foundational course in Women's and Gender Studies.

    • A course in feminist research methodologies (WMGS 208b or the feminist inquiry course offered through the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies).

    • Four elective courses in anthropology, women's and gender studies, or a related field, selected in consultation with a faculty adviser. Normally, at least two of these courses are in anthropology and at least one is in women's and gender studies from a field other than anthropology.