Applying to the M.A. Program in Applied Anthropology
What are applied and practicing anthropology?
Applied anthropology generally refers to the application of anthropological knowledge and methods by academically-employed anthropologists apart from their teaching and scholarly activities and in partnership with non-academic organizations, communities, or groups. Practicing anthropology refers to a different role, one in which the anthropologist’s primary employment is nonacademic and where they may be practicing anthropology within and in service of the very organization that employs them, which could be a business, a nonprofit, or a government agency. The basic anthropological skills of each are similar.
What is Applied Anthropology at San José State University?
The SJSU graduate program in applied anthropology is designed to help you develop skills in applying or using anthropology and not linked to preparing you for specific job titles. Specifically, its mission is to enable students to build on their knowledge in cultural anthropology, physical anthropology. and archaeology, and to develop skills that will allow them address real world problems and issues. The program is not a “cookie cutter” one in which all students develop similar expertise. Rather, it seeks to provide a structure through which students can develop as distinct practitioners by working closely with faculty. The program is organized around a set of common skills in the analysis of social systems and their environments; evaluation; and planning, policy, and design.
This program produces skilled practitioners at the MA level who can move into positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors as researchers, administrators, and program developers. They do so by applying anthropological knowledge and skills to local, regional, and global problems and issues. Students will work in a variety of relationships with the people they serve, including advocacy, public anthropology, and consultation. Students will be conversant with the ethical and political implications of each relationship, and the personal and professional skills needed to be effective. Students in the program can master a variety of models of application, such as:
Ethnographic methods and their application
Needs assessment, program evaluation, social impact assessment, and risk assessment
Physical anthropology, especially in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology
Archaeology, cultural resource management and museum studies
Network and spatial analyses
Community-based participatory research
Students who successfully complete this program will:
1. understand a range of anthropological research methods and be able to conduct research relevant to problem solving in various settings and for different clients/partners;
2. know basic models of applying anthropology in different settings and have the skills to be able to function as practitioners of several contexts;
3. be knowledgeable about (a) the discipline of anthropology in general and how it contributes to understanding and improving contemporary society, and (b) a particular field of anthropology in greater depth;
4. be able to function effectively in at least one content area;
5. understand personal, political and ethical issues inherent in research and application;
6. develop professionally as practitioners with skills in contracting, project management, and budgeting, as well as the ability to communicate about project goals and findings and the discipline of anthropology to diverse audiences; and
7. be knowledgeable about the region as a social and cultural system with complex state, national and global interconnections.
How to Apply to the MA Program in Applied Anthropology?
Students apply for admission to both the University and the department. The program admits students every fall semester and both the University and department applications must be submitted by the deadline for fall applications.
You can find detailed information on applying to the program on our Applying to the Program page.
Does SJSU accept applicants to the MA program who do not have an undergraduate degree
The short answer is yes, the MA program does accept students who do not have an undergraduate degree in anthropology. Entering students must demonstrate skills and knowledge of anthropology. They may do so by having completed an undergraduate degree in anthropology or by completing a preparatory track of courses. The total units and courses in this preparatory track are determined in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator.
For those without undergraduate degrees in anthropology, we generally consider coursework in preparation for the MA in one of two ways.
First, we consider undergraduate coursework in anthropology. Pending a review of their application materials, an applicant may be considered for unconditional admission to the program if they have completed the following courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA: (1) a core of introductory cultural, physical, or archaeological anthropology; (2) an upper division methods course in either ethnography, archaeology, or physical anthropology; and (3) an upper division anthropological theory course. We give preference to students who have completed additional upper division electives or who have completed internships, apprenticeships, or fieldschools in anthropology.
Second, pending a review of their application materials, a student may be considered for conditional admission to the program. By conditional admission, we mean that a student agrees to complete a preparatory track of courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The preparatory track includes a minimum of: (1) a core of introductory cultural, physical, or archaeological anthropology; (2) an upper division methods course in either ethnography, archaeology, or physical anthropology; and (3) an upper division anthropological theory course. The faculty may require additional upper division electives. A student may be conditionally admitted, pending the completion of these courses. Once the preparatory track is completed, the Graduate Coordinator will lift the conditional status. Students conditionally admitted to the program must complete a preparatory track of anthropology courses prior to enrolling in or concurrently with core graduate courses.
The MA Program may accept equivalent preparatory courses from other universities. Students and applications should contact the graduate coordinator for assistance in determining how best to prepare for the program.
Working with Faculty
What is the best way for students to work with course instructors?
All graduate courses are taught by members of the graduate faculty. If a student is experiencing difficulties with a course, they should seek support and guidance from the course instructor first and foremost. In the event that a student requires further assistance, there are several options: temporary advisor, graduate coordinator, department chair, The Writing Center, or the College of Graduate Studies.
Remember, too, that being in a graduate program is different than being in many undergraduate ones. Attendance and participation in classes is expected and few classes will be lecture format. As students, you will be playing a large role in leading and participating in class discussions. Obviously, the faculty expects that you will be prepared for class.
In undergraduate classes, the professor typically frames the questions, and the students provide answers. You probably did that quite well, or you would not be admitted to the graduate program. In graduate school you are expected to become the producer of the questions and to further develop skills in answering them. In other words, the faculty will not simply tell you what to do, for being a professional means learning how to apply your skills and knowledge to new situations.
What are temporary advisors?
Temporary advisors are assigned to each student to help them through the first semesters until a committee is in place. A temporary advisor is just another direct connection we make available to students to ensure that they find the support and guidance they need to be successful in our program. When it comes time for a student to form their thesis or project committee, they will select the faculty most appropriate to their project or thesis topic and partner. Students should keep in mind that the full graduate faculty is available to advise them, and they are never limited to their temporary advisor, the graduate coordinator, or the department chair.
Students should make it a point to visit with their temporary advisor early in their first semester and to establish a schedule for checking in throughout the first two semesters.
What are thesis or project advisors and committee?
Students can begin by discussing their interests with the graduate coordinator or with any of the graduate faculty members. As part of the First Year Review [pdf], proposal, students will submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) [pdf] that indicates the faculty you request as committee chair and members. As part of the First Year Review process, the graduate faculty will decide on final committee chair assignments based on students’ requests, faculty expertise, and the distribution of faculty workloads.
A graduate committee plays a critical role in a student’s education by assisting them in preparing a program of study that will help them achieve their educational goals. It is specifically charged with guiding the student through the thesis or project process, and the committee’s approval of the thesis or project report is required in order to complete the degree requirements. Individual graduate committees will differ in how they operate, depending upon the preferences of their chair and the other members, the student’s needs, and the nature of the thesis or project. The main goals of the program’s graduate committee system are to (1) help maintain the quality and integrity of the program and (2) help the student become a practicing applied anthropologist.
Graduate committees in the program must conform to the following policies:
- Both thesis committees and project committees are types of graduate committees (depending on which Graduate Studies plan the student is following) and the Applied Anthropology Graduate Program policies governing their composition are the same.
- A graduate committee must have at least three members, one of whom is its chair. The graduate committee chair is also known as the student’s graduate advisor. The committee may include additional members if requested by the student and approved by the committee chair.
- The committee chair and at least one additional member of the committee must be tenured or tenure track faculty members in the Anthropology Department.
- Part-time or full-time temporary faculty, faculty in the early retirement program (FERP), and non-faculty with expertise related to the thesis topic may serve as committee members, if approved by the graduate committee chair and if acceptable to the Anthropology Department’s other permanent faculty members.
- Students are encouraged to discuss their interests and goals with the graduate faculty, and to work with a committee chair/advisor of their choosing.
- Other members of the committee should be mutually agreeable to the student and the committee chair, and, of course, be willing to serve on the committee. The department reserves the right to intervene in assigning the third member of a committee in order to help balance faculty workload.
- Once a graduate committee is formed, its composition should be described in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) [pdf] to be completed by the student, signed by the members of the student's committee, and submitted to the graduate coordinator who will verify that it meets program policies before placing a copy in the student’s file. Any proposed changes in committee membership must be similarly documented and submitted to the graduate coordinator. Prior to approving any committee or changes in committee composition, the graduate coordinator will confirm them with the affected faculty members.
- A new or modified thesis or project proposal must be approved by the committee chair if the thesis or project work deviates significantly from the original proposal. Committee chairs determine the need for a new proposal, based on open communication from the student.
Who is the Graduate Coordinator and how do students and faculty work with them?
Graduate Coordinator, Dr. A.J. Fass, firstname.lastname@example.org
The graduate coordinator is responsible for facilitating the discussions that result in a high-quality program that meets student needs, while conforming to the faculty’s beliefs about what is good practice. The graduate faculty members are committed to working collaboratively on developing and teaching the curriculum; the coordinator facilitates those discussions. The Graduate Coordinator is also responsible for making sure that practices in the department are consistent with those of the university so students can graduate in a timely manner. They are also responsible for handling the nuts and bolts of admitting students and helping students work effectively with Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations and the College of Graduate Studies.
The Graduate Coordinator is here to help students understand the program requirements and to make sure individual students are following them, but your interests may not be the same as the coordinator’s and you are encouraged to seek out those faculty members who can best help you meet your educational objectives.
What is the best way to handle scheduling and communication with faculty?
It is a good idea to maintain professional and courteous communication and coordination with faculty. All faculty offer at least two hours of drop-in office hours per week, and they schedule these hours according to a combination of their own scheduling constraints and experience with student schedules and demands. So, when you want to meet with a faculty member, the first option should be to visit them during office hours. If you are unable to meet during their office hours, email the faculty member and request an appointment. Please note that it can take a couple of business days to receive a reply and faculty will not necessarily be available when you need them to be. The idea is to communicate early and in a timely and professional manner in order to find an option that works best.
Please be professional and courteous when communicating with faculty. Successful graduate students generally communicate well with the faculty, especially those with whom they work closely. Communication does not have to be elaborate, but brief, frequent updates are useful. If anything outside of school is affecting your capacity to complete coursework and projects at a high standard then you should discuss the situation with the Graduate Coordinator, an advisor/mentor, and/or your committee chair.
Coursework and Enrollment
What courses do graduate students take and when?
All students should consult with faculty about selecting courses at least three times as they proceed through coursework: (1) if a student wants to decide about whether to enroll fulltime or parttime, they should consult with the Graduate Coordinator before the beginning of their first semester; (2) when a student passes First Year Review and must choose their electives and submit a petition for advancement to candidacy, they should consult with their advisor/committee chair; and (3) if and when a student changes the courses indicated in their petition for advancement to candidacy.
What follows is a general outline of courses in sequence based on a full-time courseload of 9 units (three courses) per semester. A student may elect to enroll part-time, in which case they should enroll in no fewer than two courses per semester, per Graduate Coordinator guidance.
ANTH 230 Theory in Practice. In-depth analysis of anthropological theory, including recent innovations in theory and method. Research design. 3 units.
ANTH 231 Applications Core. Methods for the analysis of sociocultural systems, ethnographic evaluation, and program/design development. Emphasis on professionalism, project management, budgeting, ethics, and contracts.
ANTH 233 Fields of Application. Survey of domains in which anthropological skills and knowledge are applied. Topics include health, business and industry, sustainable regions, and immigration. Emphasis is on opportunities for anthropological contributions.
ANTH 234 Advanced Research Methods. Advanced research methods including individual and group interviewing, structured observation, and formal analytical methods. Emphasis on data management, ethnographic writing, and presentation of data through different media.
ANTH 232 Applications Core. Methods for the analysis of sociocultural systems, ethnographic evaluation, and program/design development. Emphasis on professionalism, project management, budgeting, ethics, and contracts.
ANTH 235 Quantitative Methods (may substitute SCWK242, GEOG 195 or 279, SOCI 200B or HS 267, per advisor permission). Understanding of quantitative methods for the analysis of various data sets. Emphasis on determining appropriate statistics, interpreting statistics in reports and scholarly literature, creating databases, and using statistical software packages, and comprehension of statistical results.
***Note: Year two is primarily devoted to electives, which fall into two categories: upper-division or graduate-level anthropology courses (Anthropology Depth Requirement) and upper-division or graduate-level SJSU course (Fields of Application Requirement); these courses may not include General Education/SJSU Studies courses (e.g., area R, S, V, Z). By default, graduate students are expected to complete two of each category. However, alumni of the SJSU Anthropology Department may, in consultation with their advisor, elect to complete three Fields of Application electives and just one Anthropology Depth requirement. And students without undergraduate training in anthropology may, in consultation with their advisor, elect to complete three Anthropology Depth Requirements and just one Field of Application requirement. These decisions are codified in the Petition for Advancement to candidacy (see FAQ “How to complete a petition for advancement to candidacy”)
One upper-division or graduate-level anthropology courses (Anthropology Depth Requirement) and one upper-division or graduate-level SJSU course (Fields of Application Requirement); these courses may not include General Education/SJSU Studies courses (e.g., area R, S, V, Z)
ANTH 280 Structured Research Experience. An internship or apprenticeship developed by the student in coordination with their faculty advisor and an outside organization. The internship allows students to gain practical experience in conducting research or applying anthropology.
One upper-division or graduate-level anthropology course (Anthropology Depth Requirement) and one upper-division or graduate-level SJSU course (Fields of Application Requirement); these courses may not include General Education/SJSU Studies courses (e.g., area R, S, V, Z)
ANTH 298 Project or ANTH 299 Thesis. A student will enroll in the appropriate option with their advisor/committee chair in the semester in which they are actively writing their project report or thesis. The faculty member will send a written request to the Anthropology Department Analyst to request a 3-unit section of the appropriate option with the enrollment cap set at the number of students expected to enroll. The faculty member will then issue add codes for the course to students eligible to enroll. The course does not meet, but students and faculty should establish a clear schedule for submitting, reviewing, and revising drafts.
What are the rules for course enrollment in the graduate program?
California State University requires all graduate students to maintain continuous enrollment in order to remain matriculated in graduate study. Students who do not maintain continuous enrollment will be administratively discontinued and will have to reapply for admission. Please read the following carefully, as continuous enrollment works differently at different stages of your graduate career.
If a student has not completed all their courses (including their final ANTH 298/299 for report or thesis writing), they must enroll in at least one course per regular semester (spring and fall).
Graduate students may have the need to leave the university (“stop out”) for several reasons. Students who have attended the university for at least one semester may leave the university for one semester (fall or spring) without penalty. Students who withdraw from classes their first or any other semester at SJSU will not have the semester counted as a stop out as a W indicates that the student attended and enrolled for the given semester, thus any semester would not be counted as a semester leave, and a student could withdraw from a semester and then take a full leave for the subsequent semester without penalty.
Students must return following their single semester leave and continue enrollment unless the stop-out semester is immediately followed by an approved leave of absence petition. If the student does not file a leave of absence petition, then the student loses matriculation status and must reapply for SJSU admission. Leave of absence petitions must be filed prior to the beginning of the first semester of the leave period requested. Students can apply for a maximum of four semesters (Fall/Spring) which are typically done two semesters at a time.
Note that when a leave of absence is taken, the stop out semester will count as a semester of leave and should be accounted for in the petition. Leave of absence categories that typically apply to graduate students include Medical, Primary Caregiver, Military Deployment, Educational, and Personal hardship. The following students cannot take a leave of absence or step out for a semester without compelling reasons: international students, students in academic cohort programs, and students in RP status.
If a student has enrolled in an ANTH 298 or ANTH 299 course but has not completed their project report or thesis, they will be assigned a grade of “RP” (“report in progress”), which is the equivalent of an “incomplete” grade. For each subsequent semester, students with an “RP” grade will receive an email invitation from Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluation (GAPE) to enroll in the course UNVS 1290R. The invitation will come after the semester census day (a little over two weeks into the semester). This is a one-unit course with no requirements. It keeps you continuously enrolled until you complete your thesis or report.
What is the ANTH 280 structured research experience?
ANTH 280 is an internship with an organization or apprenticeship with a social scientist developed by the student in coordination with their faculty advisor and which counts for three units of academic credit towards the degree. The internship/apprenticeship allows students to gain practical experience in conducting research or applying anthropology.
ANTH 280 is required of all students, regardless of whether they are working towards a thesis or a project. The internship/apprenticeship entails working in a structured research or professional setting on behalf of an organization and being supervised by one of its staff and/or a faculty member. Alternatively, a student may conduct research under supervision by a member of the graduate faculty as part of one of their ongoing projects.
How a given student fulfills the ANTH 280 requirement ordinarily directly supports their thesis or project. However, students may complete their internship/apprenticeship on a project not in direct support of their thesis or project, pending faculty approval, if this contributes to building competency or experience relevant to their career goals.
Students enroll in this 3-unit course (C/NC) with the department chair, but the enrollment is requested and all work managed by the student’s primary faculty advisor.
Students ordinarily complete ANTH 280 fieldwork in the summer after their first year of courses. Course credit and final deliverables are completed in the fall or spring semesters following fieldwork.
What is the ANTH 298 report writing or ANTH 299 thesis writing course?
ANTH 298 Project or ANTH 299 Thesis. A student will enroll in the appropriate option with their advisor/committee chair in the semester in which they are actively writing their project report or thesis. When a student is ready to write up their project report or thesis, and they have shared some rough drafts with their committee chair, they should consult with their committee chair to enroll in the appropriate course. The faculty member will send a written request to the Anthropology Department Analyst to request a 3-unit section of the appropriate option with the enrollment cap set at the number of students expected to enroll. The faculty member will then issue add codes for the course to students eligible to enroll. The course does not meet, but students and faculty should establish a clear schedule for submitting, reviewing, and revising drafts.
How to complete a petition for advancement to candidacy
Once a student passes First Year Review, they must complete and sign a petition for advancement to candidacy [pdf].
Students who do not pass First Year Review on their first attempt, must still complete a petition for advancement to candidacy [pdf] but they will submit it without any signatures.
A petition for advancement to candidacy is an agreement between the student, faculty, and GAPE about the course of study and intellectual work the student must complete to qualify for the MA degree in Applied Anthropology. Students indicate which courses fulfill what requirements, their full list of core and elective courses, and their thesis or project tract.
All students should consult with their advisors to select appropriate elective courses. All electives must be either graduate-level or upper division undergraduate courses. They may not be SJSU studies (R, S, V) courses. The MA Program in Applied Anthropology guidelines call for two electives within anthropology and two outside of anthropology, all of which should be relevant to the student’s thesis or project topic. However, a student who completed an anthropology BA at SJSU may elect to complete only one anthropology elective and three electives outside the department. Alternatively, students who did not complete a BA degree in anthropology may elect to complete three anthropology and one non-anthropology elective.
What funding options are available to students?
The College of Social Sciences, the College of Graduate Studies, and the Anthropology Department are pleased to offer several grants in support of research and conference travel, as well as several scholarships to assist with student expenses. You can find more information by visiting this page.
Theses and Project Reports
How do students choose a thesis or project topic?
Students must complete either a thesis or project in order to graduate. In both cases, students determine which route they will take when preparing their proposal as part of the First Year Review [pdf].
There are several ways students identify research and applied and partners. The first place to look is ongoing faculty research and applied projects. Beyond this, students should contact faculty and the graduate program coordinator beginning early in their first semester in order to develop their ideas and partnerships. The faculty provide instruction and support for project or thesis development in the first-year core courses. Students should workshop ideas with the faculty and work to find the best fit between their goals and interests, and the constraints of thesis or project.
The thesis is intended as a contribution to knowledge and would primarily consist of a journal article. The project is intended as a contribution to practice and/or policy and would primarily consist of a deliverable agreed upon with a project partner with whom the student negotiates an MOU. Project deliverables may include, but are not limited to service design, program design, event(s), visual products (e.g., videos, photographic works, exhibits), policy briefs, opinion-editorials, presentations of study findings (public or private), and reports.
There are several things to keep in mind as students consider which plan to pursue. With a thesis, the emphasis is on the final product, the thesis. With a project, the emphasis is more on the activity students are documenting. Not everything needs “work” for either to be successful; it is only necessary that what students perform reflects professional standards of practice and that they learned from what happened. If a student plans to subsequently pursue a doctorate, the thesis may provide better preparation. If the student is planning a career as a practitioner who solves particular problems in communities and organizations, then a project may be best. There are no differences in the effort that students will expend on a thesis versus a project; the effort just takes different forms. Likewise, both the thesis and project report must meet the same standard of quality.
Students complete a thesis under supervision of a department committee (and enroll in ANTH 299) and then it is submitted to the University Graduate Studies and Research Office for final approval (consult your advisor on developing a timeline for graduate committee review and the College of Graduate Studies deadlines).
Students completing projects undertake a project in applied anthropology and prepare a report documenting the process and results (and enroll in ANTH 298 instead of 299). The report is submitted to the anthropology graduate faculty, but not the College of Graduate Studies.
Please note that, while the Department of Anthropology has some leeway, there are certain topics and projects that are too far beyond the expertise of our faculty.
What is the policy and process of First Year Review?
When a student completes their core coursework, they must draft a thesis or project proposal for review by the full graduate faculty. The faculty panel will review student proposals, confer on student progress, and discuss any concerns with the student. The objective is for every full-time student to have a proposal by the end of the first year.
The committee will provide written evaluations, including ratings and feedback on content, to students within two weeks of submission. Within 2-4 weeks of notification to the student, we will hold a First Year Review panel, a short private meeting to allow private meetings between each student and the committee. At the panel review, students have opportunity to provide a written response to the faculty evaluation for their file, discuss matters of concern or questions, and finalize which faculty will serve on the three-person thesis/project committee. Students are expected to speak directly to how they will improve their proposals in the areas identified by faculty reviewers as requiring improvement.
All students in the first year of the MA are advised to carefully read and follow the procedures in the First Year Review [pdf] policy document.
What goes into a First Year Review proposal for a thesis or project?
The objective of the First Year Review proposal is for students to demonstrate readiness for advancement to candidacy in the MA Program in Applied Anthropology by designing an anthropological study or project of their own. This requires students to succinctly articulate a problem, applied significance and deliverable, a brief review of the literature informing the study or project, and the methods they will employ in order to carry this out.
Objectives (500 words)
This section should include a detailed statement of the problem that is to be studied (in the case of a thesis) or addressed and even solved (in the case of a project). Thesis problems can in principle be addressed through research leading to the generation of knowledge, while project problems are typically addressed through an intervention that is informed by applying the methods and knowledge of anthropology. This section should also describe the goals or objectives of the thesis or project.
Here is a helpful outline for this section:
(a) introduce your research or project topic and objectives in a succinct paragraph (e.g., "In this study, I will examine how crowdwork strategies in A and B companies affect trust among workers within the organization and how this affects productivity"). For a project, this also entails introducing your partner or client organization and their stated needs.
(b) the problem statement -- tell us what the problem is in your case(s) (e.g., homelessness camps in a city park), then situate it within broader trends in the issue area (e.g., homelessness or poverty) and applied anthropology (in a sentence or two, introduce an anthropological frame for thinking about the problem).
(c) Applied Significance and Deliverable -- describe the applied significance and (in the case of a project) the deliverable (work product you will provide your partner). In general, applied significance is demonstrated by explaining either or both of the following:
(i) A clearly stated project intervention or policy implementation objective. In the case of a project, this is the deliverable you will provide your partner or client organization (e.g., report, course or workshop, program design, exhibit). Some projects are also driven by research, and so should address bullet (ii) below as well.
(ii) How your study or project contributes to knowledge (public, institutional, and/or anthropological) relevant to solving problems affecting human groups and/or organizations. In this case, you will introduce a research question or two that is/are appropriate to the problem statement.
Literature Review (300 words)
This section should include a succinct review of the literature relevant to the problem. This literature review should demonstrate that the student has studied relevant literature in the field. This section can take one or more of the following forms:
- Summarizing and integrating findings from past studies that you borrow and extend to study or create an applied intervention in your problem and context. That is, you will identify central issues in your field of study that inform your study or applied intervention in your problem and context
- Critiquing previous works to argue why they are limited in their applicability to your problem or context, concluding with how your study or applied intervention will fill these gaps or limitations
- Synthesizing studies of related topics not previously (or significantly) integrated to address your problem, concluding with how you will borrow from and extend these studies to study or create an applied intervention in your problem and context
Methodology (300 words)
In this section, you will succinctly explain the details of your methodological strategy. This can take one of two general forms: (a) a research-based project or thesis; or (b) non-research, intervention-based project.
(A) For a research-based project or thesis, this includes:
Your general methodological strategy. This is 2-3 sentences explaining the components in your methodology, meaning both data collection (e.g., a combination of interviews and participant observation, materials or spatial analysis) and analysis (e.g., content analysis, statistics) and how do they work together to collect data that can answer your research question(s) in a way informed by your engagement with the literature you reviewed?
A succinct description of the specific site(s) and/or organizations in your study and your rationale for selecting them.
Sample, participant selection, and recruitment description and justification: Describe the participant pool or community from which you will enroll participants as specifically as possible (e.g., college students in a specific class, professionals in a specific field, random pedestrians). How many participants will you include and why? What are the participant demographics (age range, gender, ethnicity, etc.)? Why is this the appropriate population and sample for your study? How will you identify and recruit participants? For archaeological or physical anthropology project, describe the material(s) or collection to be included in your study and provide a rationale.
Methods of data collection. Specify the methods you will use to collect data. What are your planned data collection activities, why are they appropriate, and how will you carry them out? It is not sufficient to say that you will conduct interviews, participant observation, or an excavation. You have to explain how you will do this and how this will yield data that speak to your research question. For material culture or human remains, specify planned data collection in the field and/or laboratory and variables on which you will collect data.
Methods of analysis. What are your planned data analysis activities, why are they appropriate, and how will you carry them out? This should include definitions of variables and/or how you will identify patterns in your data. Try to identify how you will detect patterns within variables (e.g., themes in people's attitudes toward plastic waste), and relationships between variables (e.g., how attitudes toward plastic waste may be related to race, class, gender, or ethnicity).
(B) For a non-research, intervention-based project, this includes:
A description of the specific site(s) and/or organizations in your project and the work you will perform with them.
A description of the proposed intervention or application.
If data collection and/or data analysis is part of the intervention, then it must be explained and justified according to the methodology in part (A) above.
A plan for implementing and adjusting the planned intervention.
A description of how sponsorship and intellectual property issues will be addressed (e.g., in the case of an exhibit or demonstration; each student should carefully work this out with their graduate committee chair)
The reference list should conform to the Chicago Manual Style author/date guidelines.
Appendix: Timeline (200 words)
In an appendix to the proposal, please include the activities required to complete your project or thesis. Remember to include sufficient time for writing and revising the report or thesis. Here’s a rough sketch of what this should look like:
- January 2021-May 2022: Tasks A, B
- June 2022-July 2022: Tasks C, D
- August 2022: Task E
- September 2022: Task F
- October 2022: Task G
- November 2022: etc.
- December 2022: etc.
- January 2023: etc.
- Ethical Considerations
Following submission of the First Year Review proposal, discuss IRB and curational facility requirements with your advisor. A student’s final proposal will include a draft MOU coversheet which lists three proposed committee members—no signatures are required at this point, as the panel might result in some changes to this committee—and the documents will be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator by the specified deadline in each semester.
How to form a Graduate Committee and complete a memorandum of understanding (MOU)?
As part of the First Year Review proposal, students must submit a graduate committee memorandum of understanding [pdf]. This is an abstract of the thesis or project proposal and a list of the faculty the student is requesting to serve as their advisor and committee members.
Students are required to list one of the Department of Anthropology graduate faculty as their chair and one as their first reader. The second reader (i.e., third committee member) may be an anthropology instructor, a faculty member from another department or university, or a person with an advanced degree (at least a master’s degree) with their partner organization.
Students may have an additional reader for a four-person committee, but we do not encourage this because additional committee members can complicate and delay the review process.
All committee member requests are subject to approval and so MOUs should first be submitted unsigned for graduate faculty review. The Department of Anthropology prioritizes student preferences but makes decisions that also consider equity of faculty workload, expertise, and ethics.
What protocols and applications for ethical research (e.g., IRB) must a student complete?
All research or professional activity must conform to the ethical standards of the discipline of anthropology as outlined by the American Anthropological Association, the Society for Applied Anthropology, and the requirements of the university’s Institutional Review Board
Currently, every student whose M.A. work involves human beings is expected to file a protocol to the HS-IRB (Human Subjects Institutional Review Board). Any student who does not have approval from the HS-IRB will not receive a degree from San Jose State University. Some projects will be exempt, but that determination is made by the IRB coordinator and an application-protocol must still be filed.
Most of anthropology projects do not involve protected classes of people, such as children, patients with mental illness, pregnant women, or prisoners, and so can be expedited, or given a relatively rapid review. Projects involving protected classes of people must have a full review by the IRB.
It is essential to fill out the forms correctly and take thoughtful appropriate precautions is essential to having a successful experience with the IRB. Carefully consult the forms, instructions, and tutorials provided through the IRB website. IRB templates [pdf] for completing the protocol that are adapted to ethnographic research are available through the Anthropology Department.
Students working with human and material remains should consult with their advisor to determine the appropriate permissions and ethical protocols.
What are the guidelines for a thesis or project report?
Models for Theses and Project Reports for the MA Program in Applied Anthropology
Our thesis model is a three-chapter thesis whose core component is a journal article and our project report model is a three chapter report whose core component is an article for Practicing Anthropology, a practitioner-facing publication of the Society for Applied Anthropology. Note that students are encouraged to adopt the current guidelines but may also work with their MA committee to adopt our former, traditional thesis and report models.
Note also that in both theses and project reports, the articles need not be accepted for publication in order to graduate. Faculty committee members simply certify that the materials are sufficient to qualify for the MA degree and submit for peer review. For both theses and project reports that entail group work and/or co-authored articles, the Graduate Faculty must certify that the student made unique and substantive contributions sufficient to warrant the conferral of the MA degree.
All theses and project reports must conform to the Department of Anthropology Style Guidelines [pdf].
Model 1: Thesis
The thesis is intended as a contribution to knowledge and would primarily consist of a journal article. The thesis product would be written in three chapters, all formatted according to prevailing thesis guidelines. The chapters would be as follows:
1 – Introduction and literature review. This is a slightly more in-depth introduction, problem statement, and history of the study than is manageable within the limits of journal article word count. It also generally includes a little more literature review than is manageable within the journal word counts. This can be presented under subheadings adapted from the National Science Foundation criteria for Intellectual Merit.
2 – Journal article – This can be for a journal deemed appropriate by the student and their committee. The formatting of the text must follow thesis guidelines (e.g., no endnotes), but citation style and other content matters must follow the author guidelines of the proposed journal. This chapter is presented as a standalone journal article.
To qualify as a culminating experience for graduation from the program, committee members must determine that all three chapters satisfy the standards of the department and that the journal article is ready for peer review (i.e., it need not be accepted for publication to qualify as culminating experience).
Students wishing to publish their journal article should embargo their theses with San José State University and ProQuest so as not to undermine their viability for publication.
3 – Conclusions. This is a short chapter that is meant to reflect more on the research and share further take-aways from the research, limitations of the study, and plans and recommendations for future research. It should also include a statement on the applied value, or broader impacts, of the study. That is, how can the results of this study benefit society or advance desired social outcomes?
4 – Cumulative Reference List. This reference list will include all references from the journal article and any additional references from chapters 1 and 3 not included in the article manuscript.
Model 2: Project Report
The project report delivered to the Department of Anthropology as a culminating experience for the MA degree should be written in three chapters, with the centerpiece chapter as a submission for Practicing Anthropology, though alternate publications with similar parameters (e.g., career/ practitioner/ public facing, similar word length) are welcome. Chapter outlines are as follows:
1 – Introduction and description of project and deliverables. This is a slightly more in-depth introduction to and history of the project and description of deliverables than is manageable within the limits of the Practicing Anthropology word count. This includes more details on introduction and problem statement, history of project, and project implementation and crafting deliverables. It may also include more literature review than is manageable within Practicing Anthropology word limits.
2 – Practicing Anthropology article. This chapter is presented as a standalone article manuscript for Practicing Anthropology.
Practicing Anthropology is a career-oriented publication of the Society for Applied Anthropology. Its overall goals are to: provide a vehicle of communication and source of career information for anthropologists working outside academia; encourage a bridge between practice inside and outside the university; explore the uses of anthropology in policy research and implementation; and serve as a forum for inquiry into the present state and future of anthropology in general.
Articles for Practicing Anthropology should be written in an interesting style that maintains readers’ attention. The length should be roughly 3,000- 4,200 words including all bios, references and tables (if applicable). The number of references should not exceed 12. Citations should be in Chicago Manual style. Include: 100-150-word abstract; up to three key words; a one-paragraph bio containing the author’s affiliations, research activities, and email address (or other contact info if preferred) and a picture of the author. Articles should be written in first person narrative style with no passive voice.
Practicing Anthropology now also accepts submissions of creative work. Creative submissions should relate in some way to social scientists conducting fieldwork and/or engaging in the practice of ethnographic and mixed-methods research. Submissions can be visual pieces, flash fiction, non-fiction, fieldnotes/field notes, first person reflections or narratives, poetry, children’s stories, or other creations. Written work should be brief and may not exceed 3,500 words.
To qualify as a culminating experience for graduation from the program, committee members must determine that all three chapters satisfy the standards of the department and that the manuscript is ready for submission for review in Practicing Anthropology (i.e., it need not be accepted for publication to qualify as culminating experience).
3 – Conclusions. This is a short chapter that is meant to reflect more on the research and share further take-aways from the research, limitations of the study, and plans and recommendations for future research.
4 – Cumulative Reference List. This reference list will include all references from the article manuscript and any additional references from chapters 1 and 3 not included in the article manuscript.
What are the deadlines for submitting a thesis or project report?
The Anthropology Department accepts theses and project reports for review in the fall and spring semesters only.
For information on the committee review process, see below (How do I submit my thesis or report for committee review?).
While project reports are not submitted to the College of Graduate Studies for review, we do have internal deadlines for thesis and project report review and submissions. Please consult the appropriate table below for your deadlines (they are different for theses and project reports).
PROJECT REPORT DEADLINES
Fall 2023 Spring 2024 Project Report Task to be Completed 10/02/23 03/01/24 Complete 1st draft of Chapter 2 (main chapter) 10/16/23 03/15/24 Complete 1st draft of Chapters 1 & 3 10/23/23 03/22/24 Revised (2nd draft) of complete Project Report (chapters 1, 2, 3) 10/30/23 03/29/24 Complete project report sent to committee 12/04/23 05/06/24 Complete revised project report (incorporating committee comments) sent back to committee 12/10/23 05/13/24 Final/complete Project Report Due - adhering to all departmental formatting guidelines 12/13/23 05/20/24 FINAL version of fully formatted report due + routing paperwork and committee member sign off
Fall 2023 Spring 2024 Project Report Task to be Completed 09/11/23 02/19/24 Complete 1st draft of Chapter 2 (main chapter) 09/25/23 03/04/24 Complete 1st draft of Chapters 1 & 3 10/02/23 03/11/24 Revised (2nd draft) of complete Project Report (chapters 1, 2, 3) 10/16/23 03/25/24 Complete project report sent to committee 10/27/23 04/5/24 Complete revised project report (incorporating committee comments) sent back to committee 11/3/23 04/12/24 Final/complete Project Report Due - adhering to all departmental formatting guidelines 11/8/23 04/17/24 FINAL version of fully formatted report due + routing paperwork and committee member sign off 11/13/23 by 11:59pm 04/22/24 by 11:59pm All theses must be approved by committee members and submitted to the College of Graduate Studies per the procedures outlined here
How to submit a thesis or report for committee review. How does the review process
When a student is ready to draft their thesis or project report, they should consult the guidelines (see above) and begin drafting chapter two. The faculty advisor/committee chair will want to see a rough draft to issue an add code for an ANTH 298 (project) or ANTH 299 (thesis) course. Once the student is enrolled, they should develop a schedule with their committee chair for submitting drafts for their review. When the committee chair has determined that a draft is ready for review by the whole committee, they will complete this evaluation cover sheet [pdf] and circulate your draft to the committee.
Note: Students may consult committee members on particular sections or topics as they are writing, but only a committee chair can circulate the full draft for the committee to officially review.
Like the committee chair, committee members will have written feedback and suggested edits. Students should anticipate that members will take up to two weeks to return feedback and should give themselves roughly that much time to address their comments before returning the revised draft for committee consideration.
See the entry “How to submit a thesis or report for committee signatures” below for the next step.
How to submit a thesis or report for committee signatures
Theses and reports go through different review processes once your committee has agreed to sign off. Please read the following carefully.
When all committee members have agreed that they are ready to “sign off” on a student project report, and once the student has confirmed that the draft conforms to all departmental guidelines, students should submit the thesis or report draft to the Anthropology Department using this form. Department staff will circulate for signatures and post the final document to the department website here after emailing it to the student.
How to submit a thesis for final review by SJSU and the College of Graduate Studies
All theses (not project reports) must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies for editorial review, which is currently outsourced to Montezuma Publishing.
All of the following documents must be submitted to email@example.com before 11:59 p.m. on or before the submission date for your graduating semester (Fall or Spring only). Each document should be a separate PDF, except for your thesis or dissertation which may be submitted as a PDF or Word document. All documents must be submitted at one time in a single email to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
- Thesis Information Form. Complete all fields of information. Correctly enter the name of your program (MA in Applied Anthropology). Select your format guide or provide departmental guidelines (must provide style for headings, citations, and references). Indicate if you are required to submit copyright permissions or protocol approvals. This form is a guiding document provided to Publisher. Missing or incorrect information on this form will result in a delay in your document review. This document must be labeled “last name_first name_Information.”
- Committee Approval Form. The document must be labeled “last name_first name_Committee.”
- SJSU License Agreement. All theses are published through ProQuest and downloaded to SJSU ScholarWorks. The College of Graduate Studies will forward this form to the MLK Library. It communicates the level of access you want others to have to your work. You may choose between SJSU access only (only SJSU faculty, staff, and students would have access to view a full text version of the document) or worldwide access (anyone searching the library catalog would have access to view a full-text version). An embargo option is also available allowing the student to delay publication of all parts of the thesis, including its title, author, and abstract, in 6-month increments for up to 5 years (University Policy S14-10). You must sign the form electronically or with a wet signature. The terms of this license will be used by Publisher to set publishing guidelines in ProQuest. The document must be labeled “last name_first name_License.”
- Research Protocol Documents, if required. These include your IRB, IACUC, or Biological Use Information forms. The documents must be labeled “last name_first name_Research.”
- Copyright Permissions, if required. Read our policies regarding copyrighted materials. A single pdf document, with all permissions must be labeled “last name_first name_Permissions.”
Any documents that are incomplete may result in a delay of the review of your thesis by Montezuma Publishing. This delay could adversely affect the time required to make corrections to your thesis by the publication due date.
What is the procedure for taking a leave of absence?
Students who have completed at least one full semester of courses are eligible for a one semester leave, which means that they may skip one semester without notifying the university. If a student expects to leave for two or more semesters, they must complete a leave-of-absence request.
Students considering a leave of absence should consult with their advisor and the graduate coordinator. In order to apply for a one-semester leave of absence, a student should complete this online form.