Medical Anthropology (PhD)

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Degree Offered: PhD
Program Leadership:
Ian Whitmarsh, PhD, Program Director
Admissions Inquiries:
Bonita Dyess, Program Manager

Program Description

The joint UCSF/UC Berkeley PhD in Medical Anthropology is one of the pioneering programs in the discipline both nationally and globally. The program brings together one of the finest medical universities and one of the finest arts and sciences universities in the country to offer students a theoretically engaged approach to emerging issues in medical anthropology. No other program offers the joint program’s combination of excellence in critical medical anthropology; studies of science, technology, and modernity; and training in historically informed, pedagogically rigorous social theory.

Students in the program are trained to develop original, creative, and relevant scholarship that contributes to both medical science and social science fields. The program emphasizes the ways social theory can be used to analyze urgent issues in contemporary health. These include: how populations are predisposed for care or violence; how markets structure health and the provision of aid; and differences in how life, ethics, and personhood are constituted.

The program also offers a unique opportunity for dual degree students through the Medical Anthropology MD/PhD track, which includes the Medical Sciences Training Program. This track graduates physician scholars able to contribute to anthropological scholarship, medical science, and clinical care.


On the UCSF campus, the program has ten core faculty and 34 affiliated faculty from UCSF’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as UC Berkeley and UC Merced.

Thematic Areas

  • Critical global health
  • Critical race theory
  • Structural competency
  • Reproductive justice
  • Social studies of science and technology
  • Addiction and inequity
  • Built environment and management of urban poverty
  • Social dynamics of disaster and recovery
  • Chemical harm and social accountability
  • Decolonizing medicine and health sciences

The Medical Anthropology program office at UCSF is located at the Mission Bay campus. Visit the program website for more information.

Admission Requirements

BA or BS in Anthropology or related field.

Learning Outcomes

  • Deep understanding of the major theoretical approaches in medical anthropology.
  • Knowledge of and ability to use ethnographic methods.
  • Ability to design, conduct, and analyze independent anthropological research.
  • Facility with fundamentals of medical anthropological analysis and interpretation.

Additional Information

Program Core Faculty

Career Outcomes