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.

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.

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.

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.

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      

Duration: One academic year and two summer semesters for full-time students. However, students can arrange a different program schedule.


Number of Credits Required: 36 for the MA and 18 for the Certificate

Program Start: Summer, with On-Campus Orientation in the preceding Spring


Preferred Application Deadline: Applications are reviewed as soon as they are submitted and students are informed of the decision of the program's Admissions Committee within 3 weeks.

Program Start: Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters

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, and d) the goals you aim to reach in the program.
  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 550 (paper-based) or 80 (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.