MA 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 for physicians or other health professionals who have clinical work experience and prior graduate work. In exceptional cases, undergraduates who have superior backgrounds and are committed to careers in medicine or other health professions may be considered. The program can be completed in an intensive academic year, or over a longer period. Applicants follow the same procedure and schedule as those 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 relevant events 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: infectious disease and epidemics, violence, mental illness and cross-cultural psychiatry, subjectivity and culture, social suffering, stigma, ethics and bioethics, human rights, pharmaceuticals, substance abuse, 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 includes those with appointments at Harvard Medical School and its Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. An important part of the program is the Friday Morning Seminar which brings together anthropologists, physicians and others who are centrally concerned with the relationship between social science and medicine. At Harvard, the program includes Professors Arthur Kleinman, Byron Good, Paul Farmer, Salmaan Keshavjee, Anne Becker, Joseph Gone, and Jean Comaroff.

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

Application information is available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.