Medical Anthropology

The Joint UCSF/UCB PhD in Medical Anthropology is one of the pioneering programs in the discipline both nationally and globally. The program provides disciplinary leadership and outstanding, comprehensive training leading to the PhD degree. No other program offers the Joint Program’s combination of excellence in critical medical anthropology; studies of science, technology, and modernity; and training in historically informed, pedagogically rigorous social theory. Our students are trained to develop original, creative, and relevant scholarship that makes contributions across the medical and social science fields.

The program emphasizes the way social theory can be used to analyze urgent issues in contemporary health including:

  • Formation of subjectivities and the governance of populations around forms of life
  • How populations are constituted for care or violence
  • Structuring logic of markets in the provision of aid and health
  • Constitution of truth through particular conceptualizations of life, ethics, and personhood  

The Joint UCSF/UCB PhD Program brings together one of the finest medical universities and one of the finest arts and sciences universities in the country to offer students a theoretically engaged approach to emerging issues in medical anthropology.  It also offers a unique opportunity for PhD training for MDs and MD students through our MD/PhD track, which includes the Medical Sciences Training Program.


Affiliated Faculty

Program Manager


The next cohort will be for Fall 2024! Students applying to the Medical Anthropology PhD Program must submit the online Medical Anthropology program application between September 1st, 2023 and January 1, 2024.

This Q&A video recording is for prospective Medical Anthropology students who would like to hear directly from our students! This video features two current students: Fabian Fernandez who is a recent graduate from our MD/PhD program with a research focus in Safety in healthcare, decolonial approaches to care, abolitionist approaches to surveillance, policing, and incarceration in U.S. medicine and is now completing his UCSF MD program. Halle Young is a 2nd year PhD student in our program with a research focus on vexed attachments, desire, chronic pain, affect theory, precarity.

Link to recording:

The graduate Programs in Medical Anthropology and the History of Health Sciences are committed to providing access to graduate students with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations as necessary. Applicants with disabilities, who are invited for interviews, will be offered reasonable accommodations if requested.

UCSF does not require that students with disabilities disclose their disability status on the admissions application. Decisions around disability disclosure are personal and should be carefully considered. Once students are admitted, they should contact Student Disability Services to begin the Disability Services registration process if they wish to ensure that accommodations and services are in place for the start of their courses.

MD/PhD applicants

Students applying to the Medical Services Training Program (MSTP - also known as MD/PhD in Medical Anthropology) must submit the online Medical Anthropology program application by December 1st each year.

Please note that the School of Medicine and MSTP Medical Anthropology interview dates will be in January of each year.

Please read our MSTP Medical Anthropology Applicant Information.

The full Medical Anthropology application can be found at the UCSF Graduate Division's Online Application Portal.

Additional resources 

Student disability services

UCSF is committed to ensuring access to graduate education for all students. Early communication with the relevant administrators is critical to successful partnership in arranging accommodations. SDS is the appropriate and confidential office for seeking accommodations, and will coordinate communications and procedures with you and the graduate faculty and programs. Please visit the website and look over the student disability services info for more information.

Student success at UCSF

Success in graduate school requires care and attention to all aspects of your life: health and wellness, community, career development, personal and professional relationships, and security and safety. UCSF is committed to providing a full range of resources and services to help you succeed. Learn more about these resources by visiting our Student Success website.