Master's in Anthropology of Transnationalism and the State

The Master program in Anthropology of Transnationalism and the State (ATS) addresses topics that have become increasingly important in view of the ongoing process of globalization and increasing international interdependencies and interconnections. ATS focuses on a group of related issues that are brought together to create a complex field of study: The state, migration, law and politics.

Transnationalism and the nature of the state are the focal points of the Master program, as the state is now being fundamentally affected by transnational circulation processes, such as migration, international laws and agreements, and economic interconnections. At the same time, these circulation processes are structured on the basis of actions taken by states. Because state power also manifests itself in laws or the refusal to conform to the latter, the program also pays particular attention to legal-anthropological issues such as the regulation of borders, resource utilization, transnational production and consumption chains, and human rights. Migration is also addressed, as labour migration and transnational families have created global links of support and care. The program also examines the extent to which cultural and ethnic diversity are protected or restricted; the mechanisms states use to integrate or exclude members of society; the different ways immigration and emigration and the awarding of citizenship or the refusal to do so are managed; differences in the definition of citizenship; and the role played by transnational practices and Diasporas. The program introduces students to theories and ethnographic studies in the fields addressed at the institute – for example, religion, economy, kinship, gender and sexuality – all in the context of globalization. Although the Master program does not have a specific regional focus, ATS studies generally involve regions that are of special interest at the Institute of Social Anthropology – i.e. Europe, southern Africa and southeast and southwest Asia.

Master Anthropologie des Transnationalismus
Basic information
Degree: Master of Arts in Social Anthropology, Universität Bern
Number of credits: 120 ECTS credits
Degree programs:
  • Major 90 ECTS credits


Offer for other degree programs:

  • Minor 30 ECTS credits
Combination possibilities: several
Duration: 4 semesters
Language: German and English
Beginning studies: Fall or spring semester

Major ATS (90 credits)

Students will provided with in-depth knowledge of the anthropology of transnationalism and the state. This involves the origin, effects and typology of the state and politics on the one hand, and law, forms of law and the execution of law on the other hand, with a special focus here on legal pluralism. Special attention is also paid to phenomena that have taken on global importance today – for example, the politics of identity, political methods for addressing the incongruence between nationality and statehood (and the associated integration and exclusion mechanisms), the protection of minorities, the issue of individual versus collective rights, and processes of status differentiation. In addition, students will learn about the concepts behind national and state borders and the way these borders are transcended through transnational law and transnational actions and phenomena (migration, transnational identities, Diasporas). Students are taught how to conduct research work independently and how to critically examine theories and relevant questions related to ATS. They also learn how to design and implement their own research approaches, analyze, and evaluate data that they themselves collect, and present such data in scholarly essays.

Minor (30 credits)

Students in the ATS Master program (minor) attain knowledge about the anthropology of transnationalism and the state (ATS), particularly with regard to the origin, effects and typology of the state; law, forms of law and the execution of law, and politics in general. They also learn how to effectively conduct research.

The Master major program consists of the following components:

  • Component 1: General knowledge and methodology
  • Component 2: Training in empirical research

The general knowledge and methodology component consists of lectures, topic and region-related exercises, seminars and seminar papers.

The empirical research component comprises a research model with data collection and a colloquium, as well as a master thesis.

The Master program in Anthropology of Transnationalism and the State consists of a major with 90 ECTS credits and a minor with 30 ECTS credits.

The major can be combined with any minor subject taught in a sufficient scope at the University of Bern, with the exception of Social Anthropology and Anthropology of Transnationalism and the State. It is also possible to pursue the minor at another university, provided the student discusses this with their subject coordinator beforehand.

Students can also pursue a minor in Social Anthropology / Ethnology as a complementary and specialized course of study at another Swiss university.

Major ECTS  Minor ECTS 
90  30 

Minor programs on offer
Which minor you can combine

Individual academic requirements

The following academic qualifications are required for admission to the master’s degree program in Anthropology of Transnationalism and the State (major):

a) Bachelor's degree from a Swiss university, or an equivalent degree, with a major in the branch of studies Social and Cultural Anthropology

Bachelor's degree from a Swiss university, or an equivalent degree, with a major in one of the following branches of studies: 

  • Sociology
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Law
  • Geography
  • In another subject that requires proficiency in empirical social research.
Additional attainments of up to 60 ECTS credits may be required. These can either be admission requirements which must be fulfilled in order to complete the master's degree program or admission requirements which must be fulfilled before admission to the master's degree program. The ECTS credits will be listed separately in the diploma supplement as extracurricular attainments.

Please consult the admission requirements for the minor as presented in the plan of studies.

The bachelor's degree may not be more than ten years old. Exceptions are possible where justified.

For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

Current UniBE students

Apply for a change to the M A in Social Anthropology (ATS), Universität Bern by self-service as part of the re-registration for the next semester.
Renewal of semester registration → Self-service
Recognition of academic achievements
Procedure and timing of the renewal of semester registration

Application with a Swiss degree

Online application
Steps from application to registration

Application with an international degree

Online application
CHECKLIST - Documents for your application / Important information
Steps from application to registration

For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

As is the case in any field, it's important to establish networks during your studies – with potential employers as well. You can do this by conducting internships, for example, and in this manner you will also get a better idea of which subjects you are most interested in.

Possible career paths after graduation include:

  • Migration and human rights
  • NGOs
  • Development work
  • Politics
  • Foundation work
  • Media and publishing
  • Museum work
  • Cultural and event management
  • Adult education
  • Academia (university)
  • Tourism