Medical Anthropology

Our MA program in cultural anthropology offers a unique focus on Medical Anthropology. Medical anthropology is a subdiscipline of anthropology that includes the study of all aspects of health, illness and disease in human communities and populations.  It draws on all of the perspectives that distinguish anthropology as a unique discipline:  the analysis of human evolution and adaptation; cultural development, expressions, and variability; and historical change and continuity.  Medical anthropology takes as its subject a broad range of specific topics, including the study of health care systems, factors that affect the distribution and determinants of disease in populations, maternal and child health, nutrition and food habits,  human development, political ecology, health policy, health disparities, community-driven wellness practices, visual storytelling, social media designed to promote health equities, and language and communication in health care contexts.  

Faculty members take a variety of theoretical approaches to the topic, but our program is distinguished by its applied and engaged perspectives. A particular strength of our program is its integration of theoretical knowledge with a community- and field-based training opportunities and challenges. We prepare students for careers in nonprofit and community groups, non-governmental organizations, advocacy, public health, health care institutions, and health sciences research; our graduates also attend doctoral programs at selective institutions. Courses in the department are complemented by electives in other departments (sociology, biology, psychology, history, geography, political science) and programs on the UC Denver campus (public affairs, education, health administration) and at the Anschutz Medical Campus (Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, and Nursing).

Our MA also offers a mentorship program in which students are paired with Alumni who have found careers in the field.


As part of the MA degree, students may take between 6 and 18 credits of electives in this track, choosing from:

  • ANTH 5000 Special Topics in Anthropology
  • ANTH 5014 Medical Anthropology: Global Health
  • ANTH 5080 Global Health Practice
  • ANTH 5200 Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • ANTH 5230 Anthropology and Community-Based Participatory Research
  • ANTH 5270 Anthropology of the Body
  • ANTH 5290 Anthropology and Public Health
  • ANTH 5300 Migrant Health
  • ANTH 5350 Anthropology of Globalization
  • ANTH 5600 Medical Anthropology
  • ANTH 5800 Special Topics in Medical Anthropology

Note: Students are encouraged to take elective courses in GIS mapping (geography), ecology (biology/anthropology), public policy, public health, epidemiology and biostatistics as it is relevant to their course of study.

Those Interested in Advanced Study

A doctoral program on the UC Denver campus that may be of particular interest to graduates is the PhD in Health and Behavioral Sciences offered through the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences ( and is highly interdisciplinary. It is a natural extension of a master's degree in anthropology.

Full-Time Faculty

Sarah Horton (PhD, University of New Mexico, 2003)

Medical anthropology, public policy, health citizenship, globalization, migration and transnationalism, “illegality,” US Latinos; US Southwest, Mexico

Marty Otanez (PhD, University of California-Irvine, 2004)

Political ecology, visual ethnography, media production, labor studies, health policy, tobacco control; Africa

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David Tracer (PhD, University of Michigan, 1991)

Biological anthropology, maternal and child health, growth and development, decision-making theory

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Christine Sargent (PhD, University of Michigan, 2018)

Kinship, disability, bioethics, Middle East, North America

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Affiliated Faculty

Jean Scandlyn (PhD, Columbia University, 1993)

Healing and ritual; community-based health care delivery; adolescence; migration; gender and anthropology; North America, Latin America, Southeast Asia

Career Opportunities

Engaged and Community-Based Anthropology