Masters Program in Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice

This graduate program awarded by Boston University School of Medicine is designed to train new generations of interdisciplinary scholars and clinicians to study and engage with the growing cultural and medical pluralism that characterizes the United States, as well as other countries around the world. Coursework goes into depth in both the theories and methods of medical anthropology and cross-cultural practice, while supporting studentsí own research interests and career goals.

Medical Anthropology, Health Care Diversity, and Globalization

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 the different domains of healthcare. 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.

Program Description

The Masters Program in Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice is designed as a two-year, full-time program requiring a total of 60 semester hours, a summer fieldwork or field practicum requirement, and five day-long professional development workshops. Eight courses will be completed in the first year, and seven in the second year, plus a Special Project Course (4 credits) for writing the masters thesis. The fieldwork or field practicum will be undertaken during the summer after completion of the first year. Students are also required to participate in one professional-development workshop per semester, and in one during the summer.

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 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. Students also participate in anthropology-related skill and career-development workshops. The program will prepare students either for:

The core curriculum for the proposed program incorporates state-of-the art, advanced training in:

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

Original research experiences that result in a masters thesis (15,000 words) is required and emphasizes the integration of medical anthropology with the student's own discipline or profession. This independent research must be advised by a three-member faculty committee, and presented at the end of the fourth semester to the student's committee, and other faculty and students. The thesis, on a topic of the student's choice, must demonstrate a solid research design; engagement in fieldwork and/or practicum with the collection of related data; the effective application of theory; and well written results.

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