MS in Medical Anthropology & Cross-Cultural Practice

The Master of Science in Medical Anthropology & Cross-Cultural Practice at Boston University prepares students for careers across a spectrum of social scientific research. Our two-year, full-time program provides interdisciplinary training in medical anthropology and cross-cultural clinical and/or research practice. Students graduate with a solid foundation in the theory and methods of medical anthropological and qualitative research, in addition to research experience in the student’s own area of concentration.

Why choose Boston University for your MS in Medical Anthropology & Cross-Cultural Practice?


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:

maccp-program-comparisons-chart

Our MS degree is one of the only Medical Anthropology graduate programs in the United States that is actually part of a medical school. 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), and students also may take elective courses in other areas through the other Division of Graduate Medical Sciences’ master’s programs.

Highlights of our relationship with the BU School of Medicine include:

One alumna writes: 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. 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.

Our program provides students with:

  • Focused, personalized advising that is tailored to students’ individual career goals;
  • High faculty-to-student ratio with easy access to advisers and other faculty;
  • Core faculty who teach all required seminars and program 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. – current student


Our program is geared toward professional-development and career planning, beginning at the point of admission, during the program and after graduation. 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 alumni as a rich resource for networking and ongoing sharing of knowledge and opportunities across cohorts.

We are also committed to ongoing mentoring and career support for program alumni throughout their careers. To date, all graduates have been admitted to prestigious doctoral programs or medical schools or gained a training-related job within three to five months of graduating. We frequently receive feedback from employers that our graduates are their first choice in hiring.


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 fieldwork and data analysis. Our program emphasizes ethnographic and other writing skills through the thesis writing seminars.

MACCP students also get involved with faculty research, with opportunities for co-authorship. To date, our students boast a 100% acceptance rate of student paper and poster proposals to national and international anthropology meetings.

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 benefitted 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. 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. –MACCP alumna


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. Other highlights include:

  • 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;
  • 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.
  • The internship program is followed by a mentored intensive summer fieldwork experience;
  • Together, the internship and fieldwork can let you spend at close to a year engaged in your field site;
  • Through working with a local community—including refugee and immigrant groups—you learn the local dimensions of global health.


    Two of our core faculty, Linda Barnes and Lance Laird, have training not only in medical anthropology, but also in comparative religious studies. They each hold joint appointments as core faculty in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University. Both have played a leadership role in developing this interdisciplinary field within the American Academy of Religion, through their work in the Religions, Medicines, and Healing program unit. We therefore offer a track within the program that supports this interdisciplinary inquiry.

    • You can take up to 12 credits anywhere throughout Boston University, including the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences and the School of Public Health. 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.
    • We offer both introductory and advanced training in the growing field of Syndemics (Ostrach); our faculty are experts in their respective areas of research including Syndemics, Reproductive Anthropology, Islamic Medicine, Chinese Medicine, Medical Pluralism, and related topics on which they have many publications.
    • The program 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.

    Recent rankings by Times Higher Education found that BU graduates rank 6th out of the top 91 American universities and 11th out of 21 global universities in employability.