For More Information

Please review the following websites for information regarding application process to the University and Department. You may also contact Jacob Fisher (Graduate Coordinator) at

The Master of Arts Program in Anthropology at California State University, Sacramento is intended for students who plan to continue their graduate studies toward a Ph.D. or pursue careers in the private sector, Foreign Service, education, or government. The program provides general graduate-level training in four interrelated fields: sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Beyond this foundation, each student designs a plan of coursework specific to their post-graduate goals in one of the four subfields. Students are then expected to demonstrate mastery of their subfield by preparing a thesis of original scholarly research.

The graduate program in archaeology is designed to prepare students to become high quality archaeologists through graduate seminars and other coursework while providing critical hands-on experience through research facilities. There is a strong focus on prehistoric lifeways of hunter-gatherers in western North America and other small scale societies, supplemented by studies in Mesoamerica and beyond. Students are expected to develop a deep understanding of evolutionary and economic theoretical approaches, major problems in regional culture history, and analytical methods such as lithic analysis, zooarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, and ground stone studies. The depth and breadth of knowledge gained by our students prepare them for competitive positions in Cultural Resource Management and related fields, or alternatively enter into doctoral programs for students wishing to continue on the academic trajectory.

Facilities Available to Graduate Students

The Archaeological Curation Facility (ACF) provides long-term care for historic and prehistoric archaeological collections and associated archives. The bulk of the collections were generated through systematic archaeological research in northern and southeastern California on public and privately owned lands since the 1950s. Today, the ACF houses over 600 historic and prehistoric archaeological collections consisting of millions of objects. Approximately 50% of these collections are held-in-trust for state or federal agencies, with the University fully responsible for the curation and compliance with federal legislation for the remainder. The ACF also houses comparative fauna, flora, and geological materials used in the analysis of archaeological remains, as well as teaching collections consisting of objects that lack provenience or were produced through experimental studies.

The Sacramento State Zooarchaeology Lab is housed within the Archaeological Curation Facility (ACF). The lab provides a space for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct thesis level research under the direction of Dr. Jacob Fisher. A comprehensive collection of mammalian, avian, reptile, and fish comparatives are available for the identification of archaeofaunal remains. A full reference library includes texts on human and non-human osteology, identification manuals, zooarchaeology method and theory, and animal biogeography. A variety of microscopes, digital calipers and scales, and desktop and laptop stations are used for data recordation.

The ACF also houses a small paleoethnobotanical lab, including microscopy and related equipment for conducting starch grain analysis, and a comparative collection of pressed plants and seed specimens. The Department of Anthropology provides graduate students access (on request) to a computer lab with machines that are regularly upgraded to run various software commonly used by archaeologists, including a variety GIS software (including ESRI products) and statistical software (SPSS, R). 

Archaeology Faculty

• Michael Delacorte
• Jacob Fisher (Graduate Coordinator)
• Nathan Stevens
• David Zeanah

Requirements for MA

The MA degree in Anthropology consists of the completion of 30 units of course work with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Course requirements include two required Anthropology core seminars (six units) plus 21 elective units, nine units of which must be grad level seminars in Anthropology and the remainder can include any grad level or advanced upper division course. The three remaining units are for the culminating requirement of the thesis. Students are guided by a faculty temporary advisor on selecting an appropriate plan of coursework based on the individual’s academic background and interests. Upon identifying potential thesis research topics, the student forms their thesis committee, consisting of at least two faculty members in the department, and completes the thesis research. Graduate students must also satisfactory pass an examination of their specialty and complete a thesis prospectus to advance to candidacy. 

Application Process

Graduate student applications are currently reviewed twice a year for admission into fall or spring semester. To apply, applicants must complete a university application and a separate departmental application by the posted application deadline dates. For more admissions information and application deadlines, please visit the program website and Office of Graduate Studies.

Recent Theses

Bradshaw, Ryan (2020). Late Prehistoric Change in the Feather River Watershed, Butte County, California. M. Delacorte (Chair) and Nathan Stevens. 

Farrell, Jenna (2020). Postcranial Metrics of Two Sylvilagus Species and their Occurance at Kathy's Rockshelter, Northern California. J. Fisher (Chair) and N. Stevens.

Ruiz, Gissel (2020). The Prehistoric Biogeography of Grebes in Owens Valley. J. Fisher (chair) and M. Delacorte. 

Brother, Rosemary (2019). Retracing the Penutian Expansion: Using Visual Analysis and Statistical Research to Map Changes in California Native American Basketry. D. Zeanah (Chair) and M. Delacorte.

Altieri, Nick (2018). Desert Side-notched points as Numic markers: a comparison of Numic and non-Numic artifacts.M. Delacorte (chair) and N. Stevens. 

Cairns, Justin (2016). Prehistoric foraging patterns at CA-SAC-47 Sacramento County, California. Advisors: M. Basgall (chair) and J. Fisher

James, Brian Noel II (2016). Assessing Pre-Newberry Occupation Based on Morphological Variation and Temporal-spatial Distribution of Dart Points in the Inyo-Mono Region, California. Advisors: M. Basgall (chair) and M. Delacorte.

McCollum, Christine (2016). Variation in Pinto Assemblages of the Mojave Desert: The Pinto Basin Site Revisited. Advisors: M. Basgall (chair) and D. Zeanah.

Zickler-Martin, Laurel (2016). Considering the Canine Surrogacy Approach in California: Morphometrics and Variable Contexts. Advisors: J. Fisher (chair) and M. Basgall.

Sibley, Krisstin (2014). Prehistoric Obsidian Use in the Truckee Meadows and Its Implications for Settlement Patterns along the Sierran Front. Advisors: D. Zeanah (chair) and M. Delacorte.

Goshen, Shannon Marie (2014). Late Holocene Trends in Prehistoric Waterfowl Exploitation: Evidence from the Lower Sacramento Valley, California. Advisors: M. Basgall (chair) and J. Fisher

Calloway, Angela K (2013). Assessment, Evaluation, and Significance: A Management Plan for Tunna' Nosi' Kaiva' Gwaa. Advisors: D. Zeanah (chair) and M. Delacorte.

Zelazo, Emilie Malinda (2013). Resource Intensification in Central California: Evidence from the Lower Sacramento River Valley. Advisors: M. Basgall (chair), M. Delacorte, and J. Fisher.

Griffin, S. Joe (2013). Toward an Understanding of Prehistoric Mobility in the Tahoe Sierra: Optimization Theories and Chipped Stone. Advisors: M. Basgall (chair), D. Zeanah, and M. Delacorte.

Recent Placements

Ryan Bradshaw, Northeast Information Center, California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS)
Gissel Ruiz, Cultural Resource Specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA
Jenna Farrel, Archaeologist, TetraTech
Justin Cairns: Archaeologist, AECOM
Brian James: Associate Environmental Planner, Caltrans District 3
Cristine McCollum: Archaeologist, Bureau of Land Management, Carson City District
Laurel Zickler-Martin: Archaeologist, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Shannon Goshen: Archaeologist, Nevada Department of Transportation
Joe Griffin: Archaeologist, Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento
Kristin Sibley: Associate Environmental Planner, Caltrans District 5
Angela Calloway: Environmental Branch Chief, Caltrans District 9
Emilie Zelazo: Associate Environmental Planner, Caltrans District 10