The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Purpose & Requirements


The certificate is designed to lend specialization to graduate students interested in honing the practice of ethnographic research. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method that involves unstructured and semi-structured as well as spontaneous and systematic modes of inquiry, analysis, and writing. It is used across disciplines and contexts, whether research in social sciences, humanities, or organizations. It is commonly used in both “pure” and “applied” settings, including community-based participatory research, collaborative research contexts, and multi-modal or digital worlds. The graduate certificate satisfies a demand with a spirit of creating and sustaining an intellectual community among graduate students and faculty across different departments and disciplines.


The certificate’s student-centered approach maximizes flexibility. Students choose from a menu of courses to full the 12-credit requirement. Advisors encourage students to take their four courses across departments to enhance an interdisciplinary ethos and encourage diverse mentorship. Students will select a field experience from among various options in dialogue with an advisor, preferably in the student’s department. Possible field experiences could include face-to-face or virtual in the form of a 4-6 week exploratory research project, an intensive field experience integrated with coursework, or long-term fieldwork in conjunction with a thesis or dissertation.

Educational objectives provide well-defined guidelines to allow students to gain holistic experience from start to finish of ethnographic knowledge production: project conceptualization, proposal writing, theory, ethics, case studies, fieldwork experience, ethnographic data analysis, ethnographic writing, and dissemination. Upon the completion of coursework, graduate certificate students will submit an updated transcript and a written reflection to the Steering Committee demonstrating the ways in which their coursework and field experience constitute an integrated studies concentration in ethnographic research.

► Download Certificate Checklist — use this form to consult with their certificate advisor and to plan ahead for which courses to take in order to complete certificate requirements.

Course sequencing offers a clear objective to train students in ethnographic theory and practice. Students are encouraged to use the checklist to consult with their certificate advisor and to plan ahead for which courses to take in order to complete certificate requirements. Students may select from a menu of courses and must take at least one course from each of three categories: (I) ethnographic methods and fieldwork, (II) ethnographic analysis and writing, and (III) ethnographic ethics and theory. Alternatively, students may take a sequence of three courses, such as European Field Studies (ANTH 660, 680, and 685).

Offerings include the following three categories and courses:


I. Ethnographic Methods and Fieldwork Courses

These courses familiarize students with ethnography as a qualitative research method. They teach students to conceptualize projects, craft proposals, submit grants, and plan for fieldwork. They include:

  • ANTH 635 Qualitative Research Methods ~ Credits: 3
  • ANTH 660 European Field Studies I ~ Credits: 3 
  • ANTH 680 Field Course in European Anthropology ~ Credits: 1-6
  • COMM 795M Performance Ethnography ~ Credits: 3
  • COMM 797X: Special Topics -- Digital Ethnography ~ Credits: 3
  • EDUC 797G Arts-Based Qualitative Research Methods ~ Credits: 3
  • HPP 608 Health Communication ~ Credits: 3
  • POLISCI 791PA Political Ethnography ~ Credits: 3
  • POLISCI 797LP Language of Politics ~ Credits: 3
  • SOC 797o Ethnographic Methods I & II ~ Credits: 6
II. Ethnographic Analysis and Writing Courses

These courses prepare students to perform data analysis, ethnographic writing, and dissemination of findings through hands-on intensive guided and independent practice toward competency. Students learn software for qualitative data analysis and practice with toy data as well as their own original data generated through actual fieldwork. These courses include:

  • ANTH 685: European Field Studies II ~ Credits: 3  
  • ANTH 697ED Ethnographic Data Analysis ~ Credits: 3     
  • ANTH 697CC Writing Ethnography ~ Credits: 3
  • COMM 781: The Ethnography of Communication ~ Credits: 3
  • EDUC 797A Qualitative Data Analysis ~ Credits: 3
III. Ethnographic Ethics & Theory Courses

These courses offer exposure to ethical questions in conducting fieldwork with communities and organizations. They also offer a focus on seminar-based reading of case studies. These courses include:

  • ANTH 603 Community-Based Research & Practice ~ Credits: 3
  • ANTH 697EU Reading Ethnographies of Europe ~ Credits: 3
  • ANTH 697PS Anthropology of Post-Socialism ~ Credits: 3
  • EDUC 795G Anthropology of Childhood ~ Credits: 3
  • POLISCI 791PA Political Ethnography ~ Credits: 3
  • POLISCI 792DD Distance, Denial, Deceit ~ Credits: 3
  • SOC 797o Ethnographic Methods I & II ~ Credits: 6
  • WGSS 691 Queer Ethnographies ~ Credits: 3