M.A. Medical Anthropology

The Department of Anthropology offers an M.A. in Anthropology, with a specialty in Medical Anthropology. The program is intended to provide a basic education in medical anthropology, in particular for physicians or other health professionals, and can be completed in an intensive 12 months. Application to the program follows the same procedures as application to the Ph.D. program. Requirements for the program include one year of full-time residence and course work (8 courses), the proseminar in anthropological theory taken by all first year graduate students in social anthropology, participation in the medical anthropology program, and completion of an M.A. thesis.

Medical anthropologists and other faculty at Harvard work on a variety of theoretical and ethnographic issues, including: violence, urban anthropology, mental illness and cross-cultural psychiatry, subjectivity and culture, social suffering, stigma, ethics and bioethics, human rights, pharmaceuticals, substance abuse, infectious disease and epidemics, aging, governmentality, transnationalism and borders, and history of medicine and science. Participants in the Medical Anthropology program are united by a shared commitment to long-term ethnographic engagement with local cultural and social worlds, by a common concern with the practical relations between ethnographic research, medical knowledge, and public health policies, and finally by a common emphasis on the importance of social theory in medical anthropology.

The faculty works in close association with physicians and researchers at the Harvard Medical School and its Department of Social Medicine, as well as with public health practitioners at Harvard and in the community. While most of the anthropologists at Harvard deal in some way with these issues, the Medical Anthropology program is comprised of a group of faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students, divided between Anthropology and Social Medicine. This group meets once a week for guest lectures by some of the most pre-eminent thinkers in the field of medical anthropology. At Harvard, the program is directed by Arthur Kleinman, Rabb Professor of Medical Anthropology, Department of Anthropology and Dr. Paul Farmer.

Application to the M.A. program in Medical Anthropology follows the usual procedures for application for the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, including GRE examinations. 

Prospective applicants who visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website will find an Application Request Form that can be completed on-line.