Social and Cultural Anthropology is “the comparative study of cultural and social life. Its most important method is participant observation, which consists in lengthy fieldwork in a specific social setting” (Eriksen). The master’s programme “Social and Cultural Anthropology” expands and deepens basic research skills and knowledge acquired in undergraduate studies. It offers students a solid anthropological training and a range of possible specializations. In particular, students are able to develop their own thematic focus by electing and combining different ‘profile areas’ that may be studied in various intensities. Available are: “Materiality and Environment”, “Mobility and Identity” and “Knowledge and Religion”.

Ethno Profile April 2018 engl

The master’s programme is research-oriented: its core element is the extensively supervised preparation and implementation of an anthropological research or internship project in one of the three profile areas outlined above. Ideally, the project will be located in one of the Institute’s key regions of research (Asia-Pacific or Africa), thus providing students with the opportunity, and challenge, of doing research in diverse linguistic and cultural contexts. Projects may also be integrated into ongoing research activities of the Institute or The Ethnographic Collection. Students are encouraged to make use of the Institute’s cooperations with universities and research institutions in our key regions.


The master’s programme is about enhancing and promoting scientific competencies as well as students’ social commitment and personality. Great emphasis is placed on strengthening communicative and social skills, raising awareness for social responsibility, and enhancing intercultural competency and the capacity for cultural reflection.
A master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology enables graduates:

  • to conduct anthropological research independently and to make adequate use of the discipline’s theories and methods in the analysis of social, economic, political and cultural transformations;
  • to apply in a reflexive way methods of empirical data collection;
  • to make scientifically sound decisions, taking into account ethical issues and social impacts that may arise from the application of one's knowledge and decisions;
  • to present and discuss anthropological knowledge in different formats and contexts of knowledge transfer;
  • to analyse processes of inter- and transcultural exchange and interaction and to understand their significance for local lifeworlds;
  • to conduct research or practical activities in culturally foreign or intercultural contexts;
  • to critically question universalistic models of thinking and dealing with socio-political problems.


Those who have successfully completed an M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology have gained a profound understanding of the diverse processes of social and cultural transformation in the contemporary, globally interconnected world. Furthermore, they are equipped with solid methodological and analytical skills, which qualify them for working in a range of different fields (see below). The master’s degree also serves as a qualification to enter a doctoral programme. Career perspectives include:

  • Research and teaching at universities and other anthropological or interdisciplinary research institutions
  • Academic and transdisciplinary work in museums, exhibition projects and other institutions of cultural exchange
  • Consultancy work in developmental cooperation, humanitarian aid, conflict mediation and peace research
  • Mediation and consultancy in intercultural contexts (e.g. migration and refugee work, public healthcare, educational institutions, tourism and international companies)
  • Media and public relations as well as adult education, notably in intercultural settings
  • International science management


The M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology is a four-semester programme that may be begun in either October (winter semester) or April (summer semester). The master’s programme offers the choice between a single major, anthropology-only study programme (‘Single Major MA’) and a ‘Combined MA’ in which anthropology as a major is combined with an elective minor (‘module package’ in German terminology). Please note the entry requirements for elective module packages (see link in the adjacent panel).

To obtain a master degree, students must complete 120 credits which, depending on the chosen option, are distributed as follows:

'Single Major' MA
Ethno single major

'Combined MA'

The ‘Single Major’ master’s degree programme is suitable for part-time studies. For the ‘Combined MA’ option, this only applies if the minor is also suitable for part-time studies.


Applicants must have a bachelor‘s or equivalent degree in social and cultural anthropology or a closely related field. For studies not yet completed at the time of application, a minimum of 150 credits (ECTS points) is required. For further information, please refer to the Application for the Master`s Degree Programme Website.

Formal requirements are as follows:

  • A minimum of 50 credits in social and/or cultural anthropology (at least 6 credits in qualitative research methods + 6 credits in the non-European regional anthropology).
  • Applicants whose native language is not German must provide proof of DSH 2, TestDaF (4x4) or telc C1.

For a brief explanation of the ECTS system, click here.