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 Archaeological Research Center (ARC) facilitates faculty and student research via funding obtained from grants and contracts. The center brings together considerable individual and team experience in the management of cultural resources throughout California and the Great Basin. Professional expertise is offered in prehistoric archaeology generally, with specialization in paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, human osteology, and flaked and ground stone analysis. Located on campus, the ARC facility assumes about 4200 sq ft of total space, including secure storage areas equipped to handle formal, interim curation of archaeological collections. Specific laboratories at the ARC are fully equipped for lithic, paleobotanical, and faunal analyses, complete with extensive comparative collections assembled jointly by the CSUS Anthropology Department and ARC staff. The ARC also operates an obsidian hydration dating laboratory, and houses a complete graphics/GIS lab and extensive archaeological library.

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

Applicants to the graduate program in Anthropology at California State University, Sacramento are assessed for admission and ranked on the basis of multiple criteria required as part of the University graduate application and department admission requirements/procedures. The criteria are not weighted but instead reviewed holistically. These include:

  • Statement of purpose and interests consistent with the department program
  • Assessment of college/university transcripts, including coursework attempted and GPA. The Anthropology program has a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the last 60 semester units or 90 quarter units attempted.
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Professional and academic experience, as evidenced by the above
  • GRE scores

Recent Theses

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

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