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What will this program prepare me to do?

The MACCP program prepares students for three broad kinds of work and study:

  • To apply to a doctoral program, particularly if you don’t have previous training in Medical Anthropology (or even in Anthropology).
  • To enter clinical training or practice with strong cross-cultural  research and competency-based skills;
  • To work in government, social service or regulatory agencies, advocacy organizations, or similar programs.
  • To enter the health-related consulting, applying qualitative and anthropological research tools.

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“I just wanted to send you a quick note because every time I get a new job I know it’s because of the excellent experience I gained in our program. In every interview I’ve had I’m always asked about my degree in medical anthropology and people find the description of the types of things we learned so fascinating. My experience in qualitative research has opened so many doors for me and I’m so thankful to you…Thank you again for being such wonderful advisers while I was in graduate school. I hope this year is going well for you and that the semester has been going great for the new students.”

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What is special about your program?

One of the program’s greatest strengths is its interdisciplinary curriculum.

On the one hand, we provide a core set of required seminars (two per semester) in medical anthropology research methods and theory. On the other, we help you customize the rest of your program according to your own career aspirations. These other courses are selected not only from the MACCP electives, but also from courses throughout Boston University. This arrangement allows you to take advantage of the resources of an internationally renowned research university.

Unlike most medical anthropology programs, our core faculty have primary appointments in the Department of Family Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). We therefore work closely with physician colleagues, some of whom have mentored our students’ thesis research. We expect our students to attend the Family Medicine weekly Research-In-Progress meeting, not only to hear clinician researchers develop research design, but also for our students to present their own work to clinicians and get feedback.

Because we are based at a medical school, we also have close ties with the school’s teaching hospital, Boston Medical Center and with some of the local neighborhood health centers, where some students have conducted their thesis research. Our program degree is awarded by BUSM. We are one of the only programs to offer this combination of resources.

We are also unusual in that some of our core faculty have interdisciplinary training in medical anthropology and comparative religious studies, and related joint faculty appointments in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University. We therefore offer a track within the program that supports this particular interdisciplinary inquiry. At the same time, other students may pursue interdisciplinary work in medical anthropology and public health. We emphasize applied anthropology. These differences mean that we understand interdisciplinary scholarship, and wholeheartedly support the freedom to customize your own program.

We  pride ourselves in creating a supportive environment in which students receive extensive faculty and peer support. We host periodic gatherings to which spouses, partners, children, and sometimes pets are invited!

We also take great pride in our graduates, virtually all of whom have found jobs directly related to their training, while the others have gone on to related doctoral level training.

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What kinds of applicants are you looking for?

We do not assume any background in anthropology. Instead, we look for evidence of the capacity to do the work in our program. So besides reviewing your transcripts, GRE scores, and support letters, we also look at what you say about your engagement in interdisciplinary work. What experience have you built up with the topic or group you want to work with? Have you volunteered, interned, and/or worked in settings with cultural groups other than your own? And last, but not least, do you like to color outside the lines?

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What GRE scores do you require?

We cannot offer a definitive answer: GRE scores vary widely, because we have many international candidates (who are at a language disadvantage). Stellar scores are less important than having a focused Personal Statement, strong recommendations, and an accomplished academic record. We consider each case on its individual merits.

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What do you want in the Personal Statement?

We look for a focused area of research interest. We are not looking for something as specific as a thesis topic, but we need to know how well your research interests match our strengths. Also let us know: Who would you choose as a faculty advisor, and why? What aspects of our program will help you to achieve your research and career goal?

Can I do fieldwork abroad or in other parts of the U.S.?

Our program is designed around engaging in local fieldwork, in the Boston region. This approach focuses on global health within our own borders. We both explore the transnational presence in the Boston region, and define Boston as a part of global health. The curricular sequence is organized to maximize the fruitfulness of local fieldwork, over a two-year period. Students therefore cannot do their fieldwork outside of the Boston region.

During the duration of your program, you’ll have the opportunity to build relationships within and with the community in which you’ll be focusing your work. There is also a related summer seminar, to provide a forum within which to discuss and reflect on your experiences in a workshop setting.

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How many students do you accept into your program?

We expect the program to grow, but will always keep it relatively small, accepting no more than fifteen students or so in any given class year, to be able to provide in-depth, individual mentoring. Students from other parts of Boston University and the medical campus also cross-register into our courses, enriching the interdisciplinary mix.

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Are there any funding sources for tuition costs?

The MACCP Program awards a tuition-reduction Provost’s Scholarship to every student admitted to the program, which lowers the official tuition and fees by approximately twenty percent. (For further information, contact MACCP Program Director, Dr. Linda Barnes, lbarnes@bu.edu.)

We are quite aware that program costs still represent quite an investment.

Most of our students fund their programs through a combination of federal and private student loans.

Although most scholarships are offered at the Bachelors and Doctoral Degree levels, we suggest that you still review the listings at this Anthropology Scholarships link.

We advise you to explore the possibility of local or regional scholarships in your hometown or state, for which you may be eligible.

This is why we feel so strongly about planning your program in direct connection with your career visions and goals. We feel a deep responsibility from your first day to maximize the likelihood that the effort, time, and money you put into the program will make you the strongest candidates possible for your next steps, whatever those might be.

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Do you have any TA positions?

At the Masters level, there are no TA positions or fellowships. Because our courses are graduate level, TAs have to be at least a program ahead of students in the courses. However, BU has links for student job postings. Some of our students have part-time jobs outside of the university. The only concern we have is that your academic work not suffer.

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Can I do the program part-time?

Yes, you can. Our half-time option involves completing all of the Year One required seminars (two in History of Theory, and two in Methods) during the first year; then taking your elective courses and doing your fieldwork over the following two years (Years Two and Three), and finally, during the fourth year, completing the three required second-year seminars (two in methods and one in theory), and your thesis. Some students may opt to extend their thesis writing into a fifth year.

Full completion of the degree may take from two to five years, depending on the number of courses you choose to take each year. All the degree requirements must be completed within five calendar years after initial registration for the School. A degree candidate in good standing may also request up to a one-year leave of absence from the School. Leaves of absence will be included in this five-year period.

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Is there a joint degree with the School of Public Health?

There is no dual degree, nor any plan to develop one. However, students in either program can take electives in the other program. You can, therefore, take some of your electives at SPH.

You can also use 12 of your program credits to pursue a Context Area Certificate from SPH. These certificates include Chronic and Non-Communicable Diseases; Global Health; Infectious Disease; Maternal and Child Health; Mental Health and Substance Use; Pharmaceuticals; Sex, Sexuality, and Gender; and Social Justice, Human Rights, and Health Equity.


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