The Department of Anthropology offers a Masters of Arts concentration in the School of Social Sciences focused on Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies, informally known as the M.A. in MSTS. Students who complete the program will earn an M.A. in Social Sciences (Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies).

This degree is the only terminal M.A. degree in either medical anthropology or science and technology studies in the University of California system. The program recognizes that these two fields and the social phenomena they examine are inextricably linked, and flexible course offerings provide students with an opportunity to pursue projects that focus on either field or that bridge both areas of study.
Ethnographers of medicine, science, and technology are in high demand, and the M.A. in MSTS will enable students to respond to the significant and rapidly changing impact of medicine, science, and technology upon economies and societies around the world. The program helps to prepare students for a range of employment opportunities in academia, public health, technology industries, and the nonprofit sector.

The program is administered by the Department of Anthropology, but draws on the expertise of faculty across the Irvine campus.

Program Requirements

Course Requirements

The M.A. in MSTS is a one-year program. Students will take three courses per quarter for a total of nine courses (36 units). All courses must be completed with a grade of B or better.

Required courses include:

  1. Anthropology 204A: Proseminar in Medicine, Science, and Technology (4 units)
  2. Eight elective courses (32 units) that may include:
    • Approved graduate courses in the Anthropology department
    • An internship, independent study, or directed reading (up to 4 units)
    • Up to two electives may be approved upper-division undergraduate courses in the Anthropology department
    • Up to two electives may be approved courses taken outside the Anthropology department
    • Up to two electives may be Anthropology Methods courses: Anthro 215A: Ethnographic Methods; or Anthro 215B: Research Design (4 units)


Approval for additional courses (as well as those offered outside of the Anthropology department) may be requested using the course petition form. Courses at other UC campuses can be taken under the Intercampus Exchange (IE) program

Advancement to Candidacy

The application for Advancement to Candidacy must be submitted to the department staff before the end of the Winter quarter.

Form: Advancement to Candidacy

Comprehensive Examination

In addition to completing the required coursework, students must successfully complete a written comprehensive examination administered each year by the program committee.

Optional: Master’s with Honors Paper

In addition to the comprehensive exam, students in the program who wish to produce a written analysis larger than those created in conjunction with specific graduate courses may also complete the “Master’s with Honor’s Paper” option.

The “Master’s with Honors paper” involves combining two or three graduate seminar papers into a longer comprehensive thesis under the supervision of a program faculty member. Papers from undergraduate courses cannot be used for this option.

After completing this option, students may list the approved Honors Paper on their curricula vitae.

You must complete the Comprehensive Exam whether or not you choose to write the optional Honor's Paper.

Students must declare their intention to earn a "Master's with Honors Paper" in the fall quarter of the program, and the final paper is due in the spring quarter.

Form: Intent to complete Honor's Paper

Honor's Papers Guidelines


Course Offerings 2018-19 academic year

Approved Graduate Courses in the Anthropology Department

The following Anthropology graduate courses are examples of those that may be counted as electives toward the M.A. in MSTS. Specific course offereings vary from year to year.

*Indicates courses planned to be offered in the 2018-19 academic year. Please consult the schedule of classes for final listing.

* 215A: Ethnographic Methods - offered Fall 2018 (Fortun, K)
(Exposes students to diverse methods, both traditional and experimental, used in anthropological ethnographic research. Students gain experience practicing diverse methods, and learn to select methods appropriate to particular study designs and contexts.)
229A: Anthropology of Knowledge  
231C: Technomethods for Sociocultural Research
232B: Medical Anthropology
232C: Ethnographies of Science and Medicine
* 249A: Humanisim and Posthumanism - offered Winter 2019 (Zhan, M)
(Examines alternative forms of human, humanisms, and posthumanisms to explore the inherent ambiguities and shifting boundaries of knowing and being human, and to venture into modes of analysis that problematize the universality and globality of liberal humanism.)
249B: Multispecies Anthropology
* 250A: The Cultural Politics of Visual Representation - offered Fall 2018 (Chavez, L)
(Develops a theoretical framework for analyzing and reading visual images. Images, as cultural productions, are steeped in the values, ideologies, and taken-for-granted beliefs of the culture which produced them and a political economy that is class, race, and gender inflected.)
* 250B: Digitial Tech, Culture, and Media - offered Spring 2016 (Boellstorff, T)
(Explores questions of sociality in cyberspace, including what social theories and ethnographic methods are effective in studying online cultures. Topics include general issues like indexicality, reference, temporality, spatiality, and embodiment, and topics such as language, gender, ethnicity, property, and inequality.)
253A: Design, Aesthetics, and Social Life  
256A: Ethnographies of Technology
257A: Natures and Environments
289: You may choose from the following variable topics courses: Other Knowledges, Technomethods for Language and Culture, or Engaging Contradictions: Activist Scholarship

Approved Upper-Division Undergraduate Courses in the Anthropology Department

Up to two approved Anthropology undergraduate courses may be counted as electives toward the M.A. in MSTS. Specific course offerings vary from year to year, but sample courses include the following:

125B: Ecological Anthropology
125F: Humans and Other Animals

* 128B: Race, Gender, and Science - offered Winter 2019 (Jenks, A)
(Perfect for pre-health, science and social science majors wanting to appreciate how science and society interact. Race and gender as biological and socio-cultural constructs are examined. Questions explored: What is disease? What is science? What are social and biological differences.)
128C: Digital Cultures
* 132A: Psychological Anthropology - offered Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 (O'Rourke, S)
(Cultural differences and similarities in personality and behavior. Child-rearing practices and consequent adult personality characteristics, biocultural aspects of child development and attachment, culture and behavior evolutionary models, politically linked personality, cognitive anthropology, psychology of narrative forms, comparative national character studies)
* 134A: Medical Anthropology - offered Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 (Jenks, A) (staff)
(Introduces students to cross-cultural perspectives and critical theories in anthropological studies of medicine. Special attention is given to diverse ways of understanding bodies, illnesses, and therapeutic practices in our changing world.)
* 134C: Medicine, Food, and Health - offered Spring 2019 (Olson, V)
(With anthropological studies of edible things as its foundation, this course explores topics related to the relationship between medical knowledge, eating, and health from a medical anthropological perspective.)
* 134F: Anthropology of the Body - offered Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 (O'Rourke, S) (Jenks, A)
(Examines human bodies as both biological and sociocultural entities and explores the relationship among mind, body, and society cross-culturally. Topics include embodiment; race, sex, gender, and the body; somatization; control of the body; commodified bodies; and hybrid/cyborg bodies.) 
134G: HIV/AIDS in Global Context
139: Anthropology of Biomedicine and Biotechnology

Students may petition for additional courses to be counted as electives.

Program Faculty

Core Faculty    

Victoria Bernal
Tom Boellstorff
Mike Burton
Leo Chavez
Eve Darian-Smith
Kim Fortun
Mike Fortun
Sherine Hamdy
Angela C. Jenks
George Marcus
Bill Maurer
Keith M. Murphy
Valerie Olson
Kristin Peterson
Damien Sojoyner
Ian Straughn
Roxanne Varzi
Mei Zhan

Affiliated Faculty

Coming soon.


Schedule of Classes
Social Sciences Graduate Office
Society for Medical Anthropology
Society for the Social Studies of Science


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766