Master’s Degree in

Public Anthropology

Public anthropology students work to understand lived experiences. They explore culture, power, and history in everyday life while sharpening their skills in critical inquiry, problem solving, and public communication. The MA in public anthropology prepares students for careers in public service, community organizing, and social advocacy.

If you have a desire to pursue justice and inspire change, the public anthropology graduate program at American is for you. Apply today or learn more below.

In the Classroom

The public anthropology master's program (MAPA) offers program offers three different tracks: cultural/social anthropology, archaeology, and international/Peace Corps. Within each track you can gain expertise in biological and linguistic anthropology as well. No matter which option you choose, you’ll have the opportunity to combine classroom and experiential learning as they relate to your career plans and goals.

Our faculty specialize in issues of race, gender, and social justice in all areas of anthropological research. Previously, AU students have worked on projects in areas including:

  • Women’s and minority health
  • Educational equity
  • Refugee resettlement
  • Human rights
  • Environmental justice
  • Cultual resource management

You’ll work closely with public anthropology faculty to select a project that moves you and creates change in your chosen area.

In the Community

American balances class time with the many experiential learning opportunities available to students in the city. Washington, DC, offers unlimited resources for practical learning, research, internships, and employment opportunities. Many students find jobs and internships at museums or government and private agencies in the area.

Our students distinguish themselves through their service, leadership, and ability to rethink global and domestic challenges. In DC, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved and make a difference in the world around you.

Latest News

Grad Open House

September 18, 2015

The next graduate admissions open house takes place on September 18.

AU's College of Arts and Sciences Is #6 in Social Sciences

April 7, 2015

CAS makes list of top colleges for a major in the social sciences.

The Civil War’s Long Shadow

February 25, 2015

AU anthropologist examines how escaped slaves took refuge in forts throughout Washington.


Hundreds of internships are available for students in the DC metro area. In the past, our students have interned for many prominent organizations including the:

  • Smithsonian Institution
  • National Park Service National
  • Center for Environmental Research
  • Institute for Women’s Policy Research
  • US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • Center for American Progress

Graduates of the MA in public anthropology program at AU work for a variety of companies and organizations around the world:

  • Maryland National Park and Planning
  • US Department of State
  • Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation
  • State University of New York–Potsdam
  • AIDS and International Development Project

No. It’s one of three tracks within the MA in public anthropology. Except where specifically noted, the degree requirements are the same for students in all tracks.