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MA Programs

Master's Program in Sociology or Anthropology

Simon Fraser University offers an excellent environment for research and graduate studies. The institution is home to a variety of world-class research facilities, innovative programs, and world-renowned scholars.

Here are some reasons to study with us:

  • We offer a firm disciplinary foundation in sociology and anthropology;
  • We provide opportunities and support for community-engaged, collaborative research with diverse populations locally, nationally and internationally; 
  • We provide outstanding supervision and work collaboratively to tailor the program to our student’s unique goals;
  • Our program has a competitive two-year (6 term) completion time.

The work from our students is wide-ranging. Our faculty has particular expertise in social theory, research methodologies, social justice and community-based research, gender and sexuality, political economy, and social control. We provide individualized support for students' research interests. Please take a look at the research topics of our current graduate students.

Graduates of our MA programs go onto work in all levels of government, post-secondary education, non-profit organizations, and private sector work. Our students are well-prepared for, and have gone onto PhD programs at institutions such as University of Toronto, York University, McMaster University, Queen’s University, and University of California Davis. Learn more about our alumni here.

Visit SFU's Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for more information.

Department Requirements

Take a look at SFU’s requirements for Master’s Programs (1.3.6a)

Our specific departmental requirements are:

  • 3.25 CGPA (Academic transcript to be mailed to the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies office)
  • A bachelor’s degree from SFU or its equivalent from a recognized institution
    • While you do not need a sociology or anthropology degree to apply, you must have a strong background in both advanced sociological and anthropological theories and methodologies to be considered for admission*
  • Research interest related to a faculty member who will be willing to supervise you. See below for details.

Are you an international or US student? Visit Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, International Applicants to find information regarding English requirements and other topics.

*Refers to applicants having completed basic introductory sociology and/or anthropology course work, as well as course work that would be considered equivalent to undergraduate sociological and/or anthropological theory and methodology courses at SFU.

Program Overview

The MA program is designed to be completed within six consecutive terms (fall-spring-summer, fall-spring-summer), or two full years of study. Required courses are normally completed within the first two terms of MA program enrollment and must be completed no later than the end of the third term of enrollment of the MA program. Students complete a minimum 30 unit hours and conduct original and independent research leading to a thesis to successfully complete the program.

Schedule

(S) denotes requirements for MA in Sociology / (A) denotes requirements for MA in Anthropology
  Fall
Spring Summer
Year 1 SA 840 Graduate Seminar
SA 850
(S) / SA 870 (A) Theory
Elective 1
SA 856 (S) / SA 875 (A) Research Methods
Elective 2
SA 898
Thesis Research & Writing
Year 2
SA 898
Thesis Research & Writing
SA 898
Thesis Research & Writing
SA 898
Thesis Preparation & Defence

GRADUATE SEMINAR

All graduate students must attend and actively participate in the Graduate Seminar (SA 840) during the first term of their program.

LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT

English is the language of communication at the University and instruction in most programs. Students whose primary language is not English must have a demonstrated command of English sufficient to pursue graduate studies.

International applicants will not be required to submit an English-language test if they have completed a degree at an institution where the language of instruction and examination was in English, in a country where English is the primary language. Please see Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, International & English Language Requirements for more information. 

Please note that English-language waivers/exemptions are very rarely granted and typically only under exceptional circumstances. The applicant’s overall English-language experience must be demonstrably robust in order to be considered.

The following may be considered as valid reasons for an applicant to receive a waiver/exemption (documentation attesting to the below should be uploaded as additional documents to the applicant's online application):

  • Extensive experience working/volunteering/living in a predominantly English-speaking country
  • Extensive post-secondary English-language schooling in an English-speaking country, but not a full degree
  • Publications where the applicant is the first/primary author in peer-reviewed English-language journals
  • Publications (book chapters, whole books, similar) in English where the applicant is the first/primary author
  • Evidence of expired but well over-minimum English-language test results, along with any of the above (this alone cannot be used for a waiver)

FULL VS. PART-TIME STATUS

Sociology and anthropology students are considered to be full-time students, and must pay full-time fees, regardless of the number of course units for which they are registered.

CONTINUOUS ENROLLMENT

Simon Fraser University requires graduate students to be enrolled every term unless they have applied for and received authorization for a leave of absence.

DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

The requirements for completion of the MA degree program are:

  • Completion of required and elective course work:
    • One (1) term-long required professional development Graduate Seminar
    • Two (2) term-long required courses and two (2) term-long elective courses
  • Completion and defence of thesis research prospectus; and
  • Completion and public defence of an original MA thesis.

REQUIRED COURSES FOR SOCIOLOGY MA: 

  • SA 840-2 Graduate Seminar (2 units)
  • SA 850-5 Selected Topics in Social Theory (5 units)
  • SA 856-5 Qualitative Sociological Research Methods (5 units)
  • SA 898-10 MA Thesis (10 units)

REQUIRED COURSES FOR ANTHROPOLOGY MA:

  • SA 840-2 Graduate Seminar (2 units)
  • SA 870-5 Theories in Anthropology (5 units) 
  • SA 875-5 Ethnographic Methodology: Social/Cultural Anthropology (5 units)
  • SA 898-10 MA Thesis (10 units)

ELECTIVES

Electives (2) should be selected in consultation with the student’s supervisor.

Cost

Regular full-time tuition fees for the research-based MA program is $1,985.88 CAD per term for the 2021-2022 academic year.
International graduate students pay the same fees as domestic students.

For further details, refer to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Tuition and Fees.

FUNDING

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology has a small budget of funds for entrance awards to assist students during their time in the program. Within the confines of this budget, the department is committed to providing financial assistance to all PhD and MA students. We provide scholarships as well as TA/TM positions.

With respect to financial support, department policy and practice is to make financial awards to the largest number of students possible. Thus, all students who meet the eligibility critera for an award are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants are encouraged to review the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Scholarships and Awards website for additional information.

The following sources of entrance funding are available for eligible incoming students:

SPECIAL GRADUATE ENTRANCE SCHOLARSHIPS (SGES)

A small number of entrance scholarships are available annually for incoming students. These are competitive awards given to the best incoming graduate students for full-time graduate study.

GRADUATE FELLOWSHIPS (GF)

GFs are one-term grants from Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies that are awarded to qualifying students based on status in the program, availability of other funding, and merit. As a practice, the department tries to ensure that all eligible MA students receive at least one GF over the course of their studies.

TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIPS (TA)/TUTOR MARKER POSITIONS (TM)

All graduate students in the department are eligible to be employed as TAs and/or TMs. Employment as a teaching assistant is a valuable opportunity for professional development that graduate students are encouraged to take advantage of. MA students are assured of one TA/TM position during their studies. While many graduate students work as TA/TMs throughout their studies, employment during any particular term is not guaranteed. TA/TM positions are available in the fall and spring terms, however TA/TM positions are limited for summer terms.

For more information, please visit Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Entrance and Scholarships Awards.

SFU Interdepartmental Program Transfer

SFU students who wish to transfer to the MA program in sociology and anthropology must:

  • Have an SA faculty member who agrees to supervise them;
  • Submit a statement of their proposed MA research (as well as their courses/CGPA in their current programs, if applicable);
  • Work with their SA supervisor to develop a study plan.

The supervisor, in consultation with the GPC, will determine if additional courses are required.

The student's time in their current program will count towards the program length in SA.
Funding is not guaranteed if extra terms are needed to meet the SA program requirements.

Finally, the transfer requires approval from the GPC and the department.

Transfer Application Form

Finding a Supervisor

If you are planning to apply to an MA program in sociology or anthropology, we encourage you to contact faculty members whose research aligns with your own! While you do not have to secure a supervisor before you are admitted into the program, there must be a faculty member available who has similar research interests and is willing to supervise you as a graduate student.

Contacting a potential supervisor

Once you've identified one or two potential supervisors, you should contact them by email.

Here are some items to include in your initial brief contact email:

  • Your name
  • Why you wish to pursue graduate studies
  • Academic background (your CGPA must be over 3.25, or equivalent)
  • Academic awards or highlights
  • Research experience
  • Why the faculty member's area of research will match with your research goals (cite the faculty member's publications if relevant)
    • Make it clear that you are familiar with their work and how their research interests mesh with your own (if there is a research idea in one of their papers that you would like to explore in your work, explain that briefly)
  • A research proposal, if appropriate
  • Ask them specifically if they are accepting new graduate students for the coming academic year

Application Period

The application period runs from mid-September to the end of the following January of each year.

For example, the application period for the Fall 2023 cohort* will open in September 2022 and run until January 2023.
Specific dates will be posted prior to the application period opening.

*Master's programs in Sociology and Anthropology are designed to be completed within six consecutive terms (or two full academic years) commencing in the Fall of each year. Applications to start the MA program out-of-cycle (i.e. in the spring or summer terms) are not possible.

Ready to Apply?

You will be asked to submit the following information and documents to your online application:

  • Your curriculum vitae (CV), including scholarly work
  • A statement of interest and prospective research topic (~1 page in length, clear and conscise)
  • An academic writing sample (e.g. an academic paper or article for which you are the first author)
  • Contact information for three (3) academic references
  • All post-secondary transcripts

Important Application Information

  • Please note that we are unable to provide information as to the “chances” of any potential applicant receiving an offer of admission in the absence of a complete application submitted through the proper channels (i.e. through the online application portal, NOT via email).
  • Applicants must meet both the minimum University admissions requirements as well as the admissions requirements for the Sociology & Anthropology department, and submit a complete application (including payment of the application fee*) to the online application portal by the deadline to be considered for admission. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Please note that payment of the application fee does not guarantee an offer of admission.
    • It is the responsiblity of the potential applicant to determine if they meet the admission requirements prior to submitting an application and paying the application fee.
  • All applications are assessed individually and offers of admission are based on the strength of each application, faculty expertise and availability, and departmental resources.

*Requests to have the application fee waived will not be granted.

Upon receiving an offer of admission: 

If you receive an offer of admission, you will be required to submit any official academic transcripts sent directly from the institution to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, either by mail or email.

By mail:

c/o Central Stores Mail Room, for
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Maggie Benston Student Services Centre 1100
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada V5A 1S6

By email:

SFU's email address for receipt of electronic transcripts is gradap@sfu.ca

Questions?

Want to talk to a current Sociology & Anthropology graduate student? Check out the SFU Sociology & Anthropology community on Discord. Connect with other members and enjoy free voice and text chat.

If you have any questions that are not answered on our website, please contact the Program Assistant by email at gradsecsa@sfu.ca. Long distance phone calls will not be returned.