Medical Anthropology Program

General Information

Program Directors:
Laura L. Heinemann, Ph.D.
Phone: 402.280.2302

Alexander Roedlach, SVD, Ph.D.
Phone: 402.280.2567

Medical Anthropology Program

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of societies and cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to the solution of human problems. To learn more about the discipline,visit the American Anthropological Association's This Is Anthropology.

Creighton medical anthropology faculty and students after their workshop on professional development at the annual meeting of the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Vancouver, March 2016.

What is Medical Anthropology?

Medical anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that draws upon social, cultural, biological, and linguistic anthropology. This helps medical anthropologists understand factors which influence health and wellbeing, the experience and distribution of illness, the prevention and treatment of sickness, healing processes, the social relations of therapy management, and the cultural importance and utilization of multiple medical systems. Such knowledge, together with research and analytical skills, are invaluable for developing, assessing, and improving health and health care programs and services. Visit the Society for Medical Anthropology for more information.

Dr. Runestad and Angela Eastlund (undergraduate student in medical anthropology) engaging during the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Denver with Dr. Russ Bernard. Dr.  Bernard is the best known scholar on methodology in anthropology, nationally and internationally, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Medical Anthropology: The Creighton Difference

Creighton University's medical anthropology program provides both a knowledge base and a usable skill set for health and health care in an increasingly complex world through taking seriously the important factors of society and culture. This sociocultural approach to health and health care makes the program unique and complementary with other health-related programs. With its emphasis on fieldwork and cultural analysis in the light of biomedical knowledge, the program furthers the excellence of healthcare professionals.

The Medical Anthropology graduate program is coordinated by the Department of Cultural and Social Studies, at Creighton's College of Arts and Sciences. The program is informed by Ignatian ideals that distinguish Jesuit education from other institutions of higher learning. These ideals, for example, encourage program faculty and students to study and promote strategies for equitable access to effective health care both domestically and globally.

Graduate Student Danica Rush presenting a poster during the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Vancouver, March 2016.

Program Options and Format

Students can choose to enroll in either the certificate or the master's program. Our core courses are taught by full-time tenure-track and tenured faculty with terminal degrees in their fields, distinguishing this program from many comparable programs that rely extensively on adjunct and temporary teaching staff. The program faculty has combined backgrounds in anthropology, business, ethics, family medicine, nursing, public health, philosophy, social work, sociology, and theology.

All courses are delivered online. The core courses familiarize students with theoretical and methodological approaches in medical anthropology, applications of medical anthropology in health care and public health, as well as central themes, such as rural health and global health. Elective courses focus on special topics, such as social epidemiology and social sciences approaches to understanding cancer, organ transplantation, indigenous health issues, and nutritional health.

Graduate student Andy Gleason, presenting his research at the Global Health Conference Midwest, which was held on February 5-6, 2016, on the Creighton University campus.

Creighton University's graduate school holds a graduate conference on campus every spring, starting with spring 2017. During the conference faculty and students present their research, workshops on professional development are being conducted, and faculty mentors and students meet. All medical anthropology graduate students are required to attend at least one of these conferences before graduating, starting with students admitted in 2016.

The current book catalog of Rutgers University Press includes Dr. Heinemann's recent publication "Transplanting Care: Shifting Commitments in Health and Care in the United States," that will be available in July 2016. Congratulations, Laura!

Continuing Education for Current Health Professionals

Some of our courses are approved by Creighton University's Health Sciences Continuing Education (HSCE) Division for Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits. Students who are health professionals (e.g. physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical or occupational therapists) can apply to receive CEU credits when they take these courses. More details will be provided on the HSCE flyer for each course, accessible via the online course listing. The HSCE likewise is committed to Ignatian values.

Program Details

Types of Degree: MA or Graduate Certificate.  

Number of Credits Required: 36 for the MA and 15 for the Certificate.

Duration: One academic year and two summer semesters for full-time MA students. Full-time certificate students can complete the program in two semesters. However, students can arrange a different program schedule. 

Program Start: Students can begin the program during any semester. The Spring semester starts at the beginning of January. The Summer semester begins at the end of April. The Fall semester begins at the end of August.

Cost: Tuition and other fees.

Graduate students Mooka Maboshe-Sitali and Stephanie Kohl with Dr. Paul Farmer during the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Vancouver, March 2016.





Preferred Application Deadline: Applications are reviewed once a month and students are informed of the decision of the program's Admissions Committee within 3 weeks.

Admission Requirements: Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university by the start of the first semester in the program. An application should include:

  1. Completed application form, with $50 application fee.
  2. Current resume.
  3. Statement of purpose: Please use this form to create your statement of purpose. (3-4 pages, double-spaced), in which you indicate the following: a) the program track in which you intend to enroll if accepted (M.S., thesis track, original research; M.S., thesis track, library research; M.A., practicum track; or Graduate Certificate track), b) your reasons for applying, c) your scholarly and/or professional interests, d) the goals you aim to reach in the program, e) how you intend to adjust your work and family life in order to take graduate courses, and f) the names of two program faculty members you would like to work with.
  4. One writing sample of the applicant's prior work in any field, such as a term paper, a research report, a print or online publication, an ethnographic or professional reflection, or any other written text. If no writing sample is available, please provide some other evidence of your ability to communicate effectively in writing.
  5. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (no photocopies accepted).
  6. Three recommendations by persons familiar with the applicant's academic background, achievements, and personal qualities.
  7. A minimum TOEFL score of 577 (paper-based) or 90 (internet-based) for students for whom English is not their first language.
  8. Acknowledge regular access to the technology needed to take online courses as outlined here. By starting the application process, students are implicitly acknowledging such access.