M.S. in Medical Anthropology & Cross-Cultural Practice

The Master of Science in Medical Anthropology & Cross-Cultural Practice at Boston University School of Medicine prepares you for careers across a wide range of academic and professional fields. Our two-year, full-time program provides you with interdisciplinary training that will give you a solid foundation in the theory and methods of medical anthropological and qualitative research, in addition to research experience in your own area of concentration.

We are still accepting students for the incoming class in Fall 2018, and welcome your application!


Why choose Boston University School of Medicine for your M.S. in Medical Anthropology?

We know you have many choices for graduate study in Medical Anthropology. To help you compare the MACCP program with other master’s-level programs, review the chart below to see key features of our program:


Most Medical Anthropology graduate programs are based in anthropology departments. The MACCP program is one of the few that is actually part of a medical school. The Boston University School of Medicine therefore awards your Master of Science degree.

We are located at the heart of the BU Medical Campus between the BU School of Medicine (BUSM) and the BU School of Public Health (SPH). You can also take elective courses in other master’s programs in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences.

Highlights of our relationship with BUSM:

  • BUSM has played a leadership role in diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by its history.
  • We have longstanding relationships with clinical staff throughout Boston Medical Center and in neighborhood community health centers. These connections let you build working relationships with clinicians, do fieldwork in clinical settings, and get input on your research design and analysis from clinician-researchers.
  • You can attend Grand Rounds and other seminars offered by the different departments at BUSM.
  • You will participate in the weekly Research-In-Progress group in the Department of Family Medicine, where students in our program present their work and receive collegial input.
  • We work closely with the faculty and clinicians of the Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities in the Department of Family Medicine at BUSM, providing you with an opportunity to focus your own research within one of the ongoing PIMHCD initiatives.

One alumna writes: Exposure to the medical school curriculum and the values/culture of med school and the hospital broadened my understanding of how doctors and patients are “created” within the health system.

To date, all of our students have completed the program. Virtually all who chose to do the program as a terminal degree have found a training-related job within three to five months of graduating. We frequently receive feedback from employers that our graduates are their first choice when hiring.

Those who have chosen to pursue further graduate training have either been admitted to leading doctoral programs in Medical Anthropology, or in other fields that include History, Sociology, Health Sciences, Population Health, and Religion. Some have entered medical school or doctoral-level nursing programs.

For specifics, check out our Graduate Outcomes page.

We prioritize Applied Anthropology, along with Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), and advocacy work.

Applied Anthropology involves using your training to address practical problems. You can do this in the context of local communities, advocacy agencies, consulting groups, government services, NGOs, and businesses, among others.

Training in Applied Anthropology will prepare you to do research and project management, program evaluation and needs assessment, community advocacy, cultural brokering, consulting, or policy analysis.

Community-Based Participatory Research is a “collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities.” — WK Kellogg Foundation Community Health Scholars Program

The Applied Anthropologist is a change agent. We train you to take your commitments and build the skills necessary to working with others to bring about these kinds of change.

The two leading professional organizations for Applied Anthropology are:

Instead of a combined degree in Medical Anthropology and Public Health, we offer courses in core skills required for public health practitioners, but geared for professionals in our field.

If interested in this option, you can choose our seminars “Epidemiology for Social Scientists,” and “Program Evaluation for Social Scientists.” Among the elective choices outside of the program, you can take courses like “Project Management” at the Metropolitan College on the Charles River Campus, or other courses at the School of Public Health.

At the same time, you will be building in-depth training in the methods, theories, skills, and practical experience that will qualify you as a Medical Anthropologist.

Service Learning Internship: Our campus is at a juncture between the neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester, home to many of Boston’s historic minority and more recent New American immigrant communities. The cultural richness of our location is illustrated by the number of languages spoken in the surrounding neighborhoods—Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Vietnamese, for example.

Our long-term relationships with local neighborhood health centers, agencies, and advocacy groups support identifying site prospects directly related to your research and career commitments.

  • You will do a volunteer service-learning internship with a local community, organization, or clinical setting related to your own research commitments and career goals during your first year. You will spend at least 250 hours at this site.
  • Your internship provides an opportunity to learn how to conduct Community-Based Participatory Research.
  • We prioritize research that promotes engagement and activism, and that empowers individuals, families, and communities.

Intensive Summer Fieldwork: The internship program is followed by a mentored intensive three-month summer fieldwork experience at your field site.

  • Together, the internship and fieldwork can let you spend at close to a year engaged in your field site.
  • If you conduct your internship and fieldwork with local group or community—including refugee and immigrant groups—you will learn the local dimensions of global health.

Original Research: You will study research methods, develop an original research question, write an Institutional Review Board research protocol, interpret your data and apply theoretical analysis, write up your findings as a master’s thesis, and as a manuscript that you can submit for publication.

Students receive in-depth training in research methods that includes study design, learning to write an Institutional Review Board protocol that undergoes review by the IRB at BU School of Medicine, intensive original field work and data analysis. Our program emphasizes ethnographic and other writing skills through the thesis writing seminars.

To date, our students boast a 100% acceptance rate of their paper and poster proposals to national and international anthropology meetings that include the Society for Medical Anthropology and the Society for Applied Anthropology.

The methods training is perhaps the most useful and unique aspect of MACCP. Coming into [my doctoral program], almost no one has any idea how to do methods or what I even mean by methods. Additionally, our MS thesis is beyond anything MA students do here, or at any other institution. Consequently, I know how to work hard and was not surprised or intimidated by the workload [in my doctoral program]. -MACCP alumnus

I benefited greatly from the practical, hands-on field research instruction and practice. I had never completed a project of that magnitude prior to this program, and both the research skills and the subject matter of my project have continued to serve me. -MACCP alumna

  •  Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 ranks Boston University 70th out of 1,103 global universities, and 34th out of the leading 154 U.S. universities. It  ranks B.U. School of Medicine 33rd out of the leading 500 worldwide university medical schools.
  • You can take up to 12 elective credits anywhere outside of the program on the medical campus. You can take four of those credits on the Charles River. That’s one-fifth of your whole program!
  • In addition to working closely with program faculty on your thesis research, you can engage faculty from anywhere in the university as mentors and thesis advisers.
  • You can customize your interdisciplinary track to prepare you for a career in academia, non-profit and community-based organizations, healthcare consulting, business, and/or government.
  • The program also provides the option of interdisciplinary training in the cross-cultural study of religions, medicines, and healing, with faculty (Barnes and Laird) who are leaders in the field.

Our program provides students with:

  • Focused, personalized advising tailored to students’ individual career goals;
  • High faculty-to-student ratio with easy access to advisers and other faculty;
  • Core faculty who teach required seminars and many of the program’s electives;
  • Close-knit program community, with periodic whole-program gatherings organized by faculty and students.

I think the biggest reason this program is so great is how small and personalized it is. I’m already amazed by how much I’ve been in personal contact with the various faculty members and how willing everyone is to be helpful and ensure that each student is extracting and growing from the program in the way they want. – Program Alumnus

Our program is geared toward professional-development and career planning, beginning at the point of admission, during the program and after graduation.

Over the summer before you start your coursework, your advisor will work with you to identify potential sites for your service-learning internship. We will draw on our contacts and connections throughout the Medical Center and the city to help you develop your placement and design a learning agreement.

We will help you identify and select elective courses that will support your specific objectives. Additionally, in the required courses, you will focus your projects in ways that enrich your expertise in your chosen area. We will think together with you about the role each choice might play in your career development and the building of your professional portfolio. You will be expected to meet with your advisor once a month.

The program faculty meet weekly. We review the needs of each individual student, so that we can work effectively as a teaching team to address the different facets of students’ needs.

We make the development of a professional portfolio and network a program requirement, and we run a closed Facebook group for all faculty, current students, and alumnae/i as a rich resource for networking and the ongoing sharing of knowledge, experience, and opportunities across cohorts.

We remain committed to ongoing mentoring and career support for program alumnae/i throughout their careers.

The American Anthropological Association points to four broad career areas for anthropologists: Academic, Corporate and Business, Government, and Non-profit and Community-based.

Our graduates have successfully entered and advanced their careers in every one of these fields. For specifics, check out our Graduate Outcomes page.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides employment data that you may want to review to assess the job market.

BU Ranks Sixth Internationally in the Employability of Its Graduates: Times Higher Education (THE) says the employability of BU alumni ranks 6th internationally and 5th in the United States, up from 11th internationally and 7th nationally last year. In breaking the top 10 globally, the University joins Harvard (2nd), Columbia (3rd), MIT (4th), Stanford (7th), Yale (10th), and the list-topping California Institute of Technology.

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