Graduate Program

The anthropology M.A. program is designed for students who are interested in the traditional subdisciplines of anthropology, as well as such related fields as cultural resource management, medical anthropology, museum studies, and social impact assessment. The program is directed both toward students who intend to take a terminal M.A. degree and students who intend, after finishing at NMSU, to enter a Ph.D. program. In addition to the M.A. in anthropology, our program also offers graduate minors in anthropology, archaeology, food studies, and Native American studies, as well as graduate certificates in cultural resource management and museum studies.

An undergraduate anthropology degree is not required for entry into the program. Students who lack the equivalent of ANTH 301, 315, 320, and 355 may be required to take these courses. ANTH 350 or the equivalent is recommended.

Specific strengths of our program and faculty are highlighted below. Graduate students also benefit from access to other facilities and institutions on campus and in the community, including the University Museum, Branigan Cultural Center, Center for Latin American and Border Studies, NMSU Archives and Special Collections, and Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.


  • Regions: Greater Southwest, Mesoamerica, Southern Plains
  • Method/Material Specialties: ceramic analysis, zooarchaeology, lithic analysis, historical archaeology
  • Emphases: Southwest prehistory, Mesoamerican archaeology, historical archaeology, cultural resource management (CRM)

Arkeo-9Four faculty supervise studies in archaeology: Dr. Rani Alexander (Mesoamerica, agrarian ecology, quantitative methods, zooarchaeology); Dr. William Walker (US Southwest, South America, archaeology of religion and ritual); Dr. Fumi Arakawa (US Southwest, lithic analysis, geochemical analysis, exchange systems); and Dr. Kelly Jenks (US Southwest and Southern Plains, historical archaeology, culture contact and change, cultural resource management). Our curriculum emphasizes archaeological theory, methodology, research design, fieldwork, laboratory work, quantitative analysis, writing and communication, ethics and professionalism, and cultural and historic preservation. Instruction includes seminars in archaeological method and theory; regular archaeological field schools emphasizing survey, mapping, and excavation; archaeological laboratory methods; faunal bone analysis; ceramic analysis; lithic analysis; quantitative methods; historical archaeology; archaeology of the Southwest; topics in Mesoamerican archaeology; and cultural resource management. Students are encouraged to explore interdisciplinary training, especially through graduate minors offered in related programs such as GIS, geography, public history, soil science, and geology. The Department offers a Graduate Certificate in Cultural Resource Management for students who wish to gain employment in that industry, and many of our graduates have gained employment with CRM firms and federal agencies.

Biological Anthropology

  • Regions: Africa (especially Kenya)
  • Method/Material Specialties: paleoanthropology, paleoecology
  • Emphases: evolution of Old World monkeys and apes in the Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene epochs

Monte-BrendaBiological anthropology at NMSU focuses on primate evolution (especially in the African Miocene); comparative anatomy; behavior and ecology; dental anthropology and osteology; and human evolution with a focus on the Old World, espcially Africa. Two anthropology faculty members contribute to this specialization: Dr. Brenda Benefit and Dr. Monte McCrossin focus on the evolution of Old World monkeys and apes from the Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene. Opportunities exist for students to become involved with research projects related to these topics.

Courses in biological anthropology include human osteology; advanced studies in physical anthropology; primate ecology; biological anthropology seminar; and human evolution.

Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology

  • Regions: Greater Southwest (USA/Mexico), Northern Plains (USA/Canada), Mesoamerica, East Africa, Southeast Asia
  • Method/Material Specialties: qualitative analysis, ethnography, ethnohistory, oral history, participatory research
  • Emphases: applied anthropology, medical anthropology, agriculture, linguistics, Indigeneity

Cultural-1Studies in cultural and linguistic anthropology at NMSU are under the direction of  Dr. Lois Stanford (mestizo and Purhépecha communities in Michoacán, and Latino rural communities in New Mexico); Dr. Donald D. Pepion (culture and ethnohistory of Indigenous peoples of North America); Dr. Miriam Chaiken (applied anthropology in Africa and Southeast Asia, development, and rural health and nutrition); Dr. Mary Alice Scott (medical anthropology in Latin America and the border region); Dr. W. Thomas Conelly (agriculture and ecological anthropology, applied/development anthropology, Southeast Asia, East Africa); and Dr. Scott Rushforth (Athapaskan languages, ethnography). M.A. students specializing in cultural/linguistic anthropology can engage in fieldwork that enhances their cross-cultural awareness and develops skills in ethnographic research and applied anthropology. Students are encouraged to address the specific components of cultural systems, examining the religious, linguistic, socioeconomic, health, and development aspects of cultures. Instruction includes seminars in cultural anthropological theory; ethnographic field methods; ethics; applied anthropology; indigenous ways of knowing; decolonizing methodologies; gender; nutritional anthropology; and medical anthropology. Ethnographic courses available include Latin America, Native American Peoples, and Cultures of Africa. Students are encouraged to explore interdisciplinary training in related programs in Latin American and borderland studies, linguistics, religious studies, women’s studies, and food systems.

Museum Studies

Students can focus their studies on museology. The University Museum in Kent Hall is affiliated with the Department of Anthropology; the director of the museum is Dr. Fumi Arakawa, and Anna Strankman serves as curator of collections and exhibits. Courses in museum studies and practical experience as interns, volunteers, and researchers are offered by faculty in anthropology and in related programs. The Department also offers a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies that is available both to enrolled M.A. students and as a stand-alone program.