The Master of Science Program in Medical Anthropology & Cross-Cultural Practice is designed as a two-year, full-time program requiring research methods and theory courses, seven electives, a service-learning internship, summer fieldwork, and five professional development workshops. Students can opt to participate in the program on a half-time basis. MACCP students also attend the weekly Research-In-Progress meeting in the Department of Family Medicine, with clinician researchers.

What Is Medical Anthropology?

Human experiences of affliction, suffering, and sickness are deeply influenced by the historical and cultural contexts in which they arise. Medical anthropology is the interdisciplinary branch of anthropology that addresses all such aspects of health, illness, and disease. Medical anthropology formulates and addresses both theoretical and applied problems, with the goal of conducting research that will contribute to the social sciences, and to different domains of healthcare and public health. This application of anthropology to the study of illness and health brings the field into dialogue with scholars and practitioners in the medical sciences.

Drawing on the various methods and types of data from the different branches of anthropology and other disciplines, medical anthropology examines relationships between biological and cultural factors that contribute to the epidemiology of disease. It explores the meanings that cultural groups assign to these experiences, along with the different healing traditions, healers, and health care practices and systems in different cultures that have arisen in response. Common analytical frameworks include social, cultural, political, economic, gendered, racial/ethnic, and other analytical strategies, particularly in relation to the effects of globalization.

(You may want to check out how the Society for Medical Anthropology explains the field.)

Program Objectives

The overall goal of the Masters in Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice is to provide interdisciplinary training in medical anthropology and cross-cultural clinical and/or research practice. The curriculum has been designed to provide students with a solid foundation in the theory and methods of medical anthropological and qualitative research, and in the student’s own area of concentration.


The combination of a core curriculum and elective courses allows students to design a program tailored to their specific needs and career plans. The curriculum includes:

  • Theory and its application to medical anthropological research
  • Research design and related proposal development for Institutional Review Board (ethics committee) review
  • Qualitative and anthropological research and fieldwork methods
  • Proposal development for funding applications
  • The student’s chosen area of research concentration
  • Skill and career-development workshops
  • Techniques for translating medical anthropological research into clinical interventions and services
  • Original research experiences that result in a masters thesis (15,000 words) that emphasizes the integration of medical anthropology with the student’s own discipline or career goals. The thesis must demonstrate:
    • a solid research design
    • engagement in fieldwork with the collection of related data
    • data analysis skills
    • the effective application of theory
    • well-written results.

Graduate Outcomes

By the time students complete their program they should be able to demonstrate:

  • Advanced knowledge of the history and breadth of medical anthropology theory and its application in research and applied practice
  • The ability to collaborate with a group in relation to the student’s research focus, to develop a study that will contribute to that group’s interests and needs
  • The ability to design and propose an original fieldwork research project for review by an Institutional Review Board or funding agencies
  • Expertise in a particular area of research concentration
  • The ability to work across disciplinary boundaries
  • Strategies for effective public and professional communication of medical anthropology research through publication and presentations