Introduction and Philosophy

Anthropology is the study of the culture of humankind, done on a comparative basis, to include the whole of human society, its diversity, and its past. The Department of Anthropology offers graduate study leading to the Master of Applied Anthropology (M.A.A.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Both degrees reflect the department’s interest and expertise in applied anthropology – the application of anthropological knowledge, anthropology-in-use, and practicing anthropology – in a variety of institutional and community settings. This application of anthropology is intellectually informed by theories and approaches of the four subfields of the discipline (archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural and social anthropology, and anthropological linguistics).  In addition, students are asked to focus in one of our areas of research concentration (anthropology of environment, anthropology of health, and anthropology of heritage).

An Applied Focus

The department’s commitment to applied anthropology includes research devoted to the generation and application of anthropological knowledge, perspectives and methods in the service of human problem-solving and decision-making, and support for the practice of anthropology in a variety of professional settings. In practice, the department faculty and students are interested in issues and problems related to human cultural and biological diversity, cultural understanding, the interactions between humans and their various environments, and ethnographic, archaeological, sociolinguistic, and biological research methods.


“The purpose of NAPA shall be to represent the practice of anthropology and the interests of practicing anthropologists within the American Anthropological Association, to other organizations, and to the general public, and to further the practice of anthropology as a profession.”


“The Society for Applied Anthropology aspires to promote the integration of anthropological perspectives and methods in solving human problems throughout the world; to advocate for fair and just public policy based upon sound research; to promote public recognition of anthropology as a profession; and to support the continuing professionalization of the field. The Society pursues its mission and purpose by

(1) communicating theories, research methods, results, and case examples through its publications and 
      annual meetings;
(2) recommending curriculum for the education of applied anthropologists and other applied social scientists
      at all levels;
(3) promoting and conducting professional development programs; and
(4) expressing its members' interests-- and anthropological approaches in general--to the public,
      government agencies, and other professional associations.

Through these activities, the Society strives to be a premier professional organization for anthropologists and other applied social scientists and with colleagues throughout the world.”


“The Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists (WAPA) is the oldest and largest regional association of professional anthropologists in the world today. Founded in 1976, WAPA serves as a resource, and a social and career development center for anthropologists seeking to apply their knowledge and skills to practical problems for the betterment of society.”




Our Department is a member of the Consortium of Programs in Applied Anthropology (COPAA)