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Becca Peixotto examines an artifact with a magnifying glass.

A Flexible Program With Solid Results

Our 33-credit program offers a wide array or courses across the field of anthropology and offers the opportunity to develop a specialized area of expertise. You will build a solid foundation in the craft of anthropology and public anthropology with our core coursework and build on that foundation with coursework in one of two tracks of specialization: cultural/social anthropology or archaeology. In both tracks, you will perform your own original research to complete either a master’s thesis or a substantial research project as your capstone experience.

Prominent Scholars Dedicated to Your Success

Theory, practice, and social justice are at the core of our curriculum, and our faculty specializes in issues of race, gender, and social justice in all areas of anthropological research. You will work closely with our public anthropology professors to select a research project that moves you and creates change in your chosen area. Our students have written theses and worked on research projects in areas including healthcare justice, educational equity, environmental justice, and refugee resettlement.

Experiential learning in the capital 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.


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

Sadly, the Peace Corps has canceled all of its MA International Programs nationwide. As such, we are no longer able to accept applications for that track.

73 percent of graduates work for government or nonprofit organizations

94 percent of graduates are working, in grad school, or both within six months of graduation

100 percent of student applicants accepted into Peace Corps programs

Student Spotlight

Becca Peixotto was part of the expedition team that unearthed a new species of human relative, “Homo naledi.” The discovery—which includes more than 1,500 fossils—has shifted the way scientists think about human history.

Public anthropology students like Becca 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—plus the weekly Social Justice Series and annual Public Anthropology Conference.