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M.A. Program in Linguistic Anthropology, Northern Arizona University



Flagstaff, Arizona

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The Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University offers one of the country’s best anthropology MA programs.Our MA program in linguistic anthropology provides students with opportunities for scholarly development and applied work grounded in strong theoretical and methodological foundations. Strengths of the program include an emphasis on professionalization and on developing skills in the use of technology and making presentations. For example, ANT 514 (Linguistic Anthropology Lab) provides experience in collecting audiovisual data, the use of technology in editing and transcribing those data, and a setting in which students regularly present their emerging analyses and arguments.


NAU linguistic anthropology students presenting at the 2012 AAA meetings
NAU linguistic anthropology students presenting at the 2012 AAA meetings

Application information (deadline February 15)


Current linguistic anthropology faculty:

James M. Wilce (departmental webpage)

Janina Fenigsen (2012 recipient of Ruth Benedict Global Citizenship Award from the Center for a Public Anthropology)


Wilce and Fenigsen are planning a discourse-centered collaborative study of “emotion pedagogies” and New Age emotional healing in Finland and Sedona, AZ (just 45 minutes south of our campus).

Find Wilce and Fenigsen on


Our linguistic anthropology MA students conduct original research or complete internships in a variety of applied settings. Theses successfully defended in 2012:

James Hunter Peden. The Provider’s Black Box: Language, Technology, and Participation in General Practice Medical Encounters
Mercedes C. Douglass. Participatory Governance in a Mainlander Community in Roatán, Honduras: Structuring Partnership Discourse Through Performance
Muhammad Nabil Zuberi. Legitimating the “Battle”: “Illegality,” Authenticity, and Language Ideologies in the Arizona Immigration Debate
Sable M. Helvie. Good Writing is in the “I” of the Beholder: How Undergraduate Students Learn to Engage with Academic Discourse
Christine R. Kirby. Are “We” Pregnant? A Phenomenological Approach to Investigating the Lived Pregnancy Experience Through Discourse and Practice
For a list of all linguistic anthropology MA theses click here

Applied MA projects (research and internship): Language revitalization and other areas


What can you do with an MA in linguistic anthropology?

An MA in linguistic anthropology can be a terminal degree offering many professional opportunities. It can also be a step toward a PhD. Many of those who graduate with an MA in Anthropology, including those in linguistic and sociocultural anthropology as well as archaeology, have been admitted to leading PhD programs in the country. Recent alumni of the MA in linguistic anthropology have gone on to PhD programs at UCLA and CUNY Graduate Center.


Graduate courses in linguistic anthropology:

ANT 514 Linguistic Anthropology Lab

ANT 581 Language, Power, and Medicine

ANT 599 The Semiotics of Madness and Culture

ANT 614 Ethnography of Communication

ANT 714 Advanced Seminar in Linguistic Anthropology


Linguistic anthropology MA students take many of their courses with peers in sociocultural anthropology and benefit from our strong relationship with faculty in allied fields:

Connections to related programs (coursework, committee members, etc.):

Medical Anthropology, English Graduate Programs (e.g. , Applied Linguistics, Rhetoric); Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Contacts: Jim Wilce (928-523-2729, and Janina Fenigsen (928-523-2286,, linguistic anthropologists;

Walter Vannette, (928-523-9514, ),Graduate Program Coordinator and applied cultural anthropologist;

Robert T. Trotter (928-523-4521,, Department Chair and medical anthropologist


How to apply now (deadline February 15)