Master's in Social Anthropology

The MASA program at the University of Bern addresses all the varied aspects of social anthropology. The program also focuses on innovative research in both traditional areas, such as kinship, social exchange, religious and ritual practices, ethnicity, material culture and the human-environment relationship, and new fields such as gender studies and the anthropology of climate change.

The MASA program is designed for graduates of a BA program in social or cultural anthropology, or ethnology. The program conveys in-depth knowledge and extensive expertise in theory and methodology, as well as in specific research fields and regions chosen by the student. The focus here is on the topics and regions addressed by the lecturers (see institute research profile). Students are taught how to conduct research work independently, how to critically and knowledgeably participate in current theoretical debates, and how to address relevant questions related to both their own societies and other societies.

Graduates of the MASA program (major and minor) are able to analyze the complexities people and societies have to deal with today, which in turn enables them to understand the circumstances in which actions are taken, as well as the possibilities associated with such actions. This involves social, political, economic, symbolic and ritual actions, as well as the way identities are constructed, inequalities are created and legitimized, and conflicts are carried out.

Master Sozialanthropologie
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
Languages: German, French and English (50%)
Beginning studies: Fall or spring semester

Major in Social Anthropology (90 ECTS credits)

Graduates of the MASA major program are also able to utilize the latest research findings as a basis for developing and implementing their own ethnographic research approaches. They are further able to analyze and evaluate data that they themselves collect and present such data in scholarly essays or in films.

Minor in Social Anthropology (30 ECTS credits)

Students with a minor in Social Anthropology gain additional specialist knowledge, especially in terms of associated theories and comparative systematics. They also receive instruction in simple scientific 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 the institute colloquium.

The empirical research component comprises a research model with data collection, a three-semester research colloquium and a master thesis.


The Master's degree program consists of a major with 90 ECTS credits and a minor with 30 ECTS credits.

The major can be combined with any minor program in any faculty at the University of Bern, as well as with a minor from another university (after consulting with the respective subject coordinator). Students are not permitted to have a major and minor in the same branch of study (exception described in the following paragraph).

Students can, however, obtain a Master's degree with a major in Social Anthropology and a minor in Social Anthropology / Ethnology as a complementary and specialized course of study at another Swiss university.

Major ECTS  Minor ECTS 
90  30 

Individual academic requirements

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

a) Bachelor's degree from a recognized Swiss or foreign university in the branch of studies Social and Cultural Anthropology

Bachelor's degree from a recognized university with a minor in one of the following branches of studies:

  • Sociology
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • or in another branch of studies

provided that the master's degree can be successfully completed with an additional maximum 60 ECTS credits.
Additional attainments 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.

Language requirements

Sufficient knowledge of German, French and English is essential for all courses from the very beginning of the degree program.

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, 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.

Along with the ability to conduct scientific research, graduates of the MASA program also possess practical cultural-anthropological and socio-anthropological skills that enable them to work in many areas – for example, with refugees and immigrants (integration), in development cooperation organizations, in international projects, in cultural organizations, and in the art and media, tourism and health care industries.