Universität Bonn

Institute for Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology

Anthropology of the Americas, M.A.

M.A. Anthropology of the Americas

The Master's degree program in Anthropology of the Americas deals with the history and present of the Americas from a long-term perspective, ranging from the cultures and societies before the conquest and colonization to the modern nation states. Students acquire in-depth theoretical and methodological skills in a historical-archaeological or social and cultural anthropological focus. A possible specialization in heritage and museum studies links both fields. Introductions to the study of ancient american writing systems and the analysis of indigenous written sources are also offered.

Call for Application 2024 (EN)
© Sascha Sistenich

The study of the "Anthropology of the Americas" covers the indigenous societies of Latin America from the pre-Hispanic past to the present day, as well as their global reformulations. The intention of the different units is to give a first impression of the entire diversity of social developments, from the beginnings of complex societies, through the history of the conquest, to the political and social processes of the present. The American continent, through its numerous individual phenomena concerning the cultural transformation of the human person, offers a unique study platform for comparative analyses with historical cultural developments in other parts of the world. To this end, the teaching not only provides an interdisciplinary perspective, linking archaeological, historical and cultural anthropological approaches, but also allows for the analysis of long-term cultural developments.

The Master's degree program is aimed at students with a Bachelor's degree in the subjects of cultural and social Anthropology, Anthropology of the Americas, Latin American Studies, Regional Studies Latin America, Hispanic Studies or Archaeology. It is also aimed at students who have completed courses in cultural and social anthropology or cultural studies amounting to at least 24 ECTS. Students who have attended courses on cultural theory and methods of qualitative social research can also be credited.

Applicants for the Master's Degree must have:

  • University degree (domestic or foreign) in a social or cultural anthropology subject, in an archaeologically or historically oriented subject, in Latin American studies or Hispanic studies
  • Minimum average grade of 2.3 (german grading) in previous studies
  • Students from other departments must have regional knowledge of the Americas amounting to 24 ECTS
  • Required language skills (proof of, for example, 5 years of schooling or language courses at universities, language and cultural institutes)
    • English language skills at CEFR level B2
    • Knowledge of Spanish at CEFR level A2
  • 132 credits completed for applicants in bachelor's degree programs.

Further information on admission requirements can be found in the examination regulations on the website of the University of Bonn.

The application phase for the winter semester 2024/25 begins on May 13, 2024 and ends on September 02, 2024.

Those interested in the Master's program can apply in two application phases per semester (winter and summer semester) via the Application portal of the University of Bonn.

The master's degree is divided into four semesters. The structure of the Syllabus can be found in the following link.


Here we list all the professional fields in which our graduates have gained a foothold:

  • national and international organizations and companies (public authorities, foundations, non-governmental organizations, tourism sector, etc.)
  • cultural management
  • museum sector (museum and cultural management)
  • educational institutions
  • adult education
  • science management (e.g. DAAD, DFG)
  • science (with M.A. degree: teaching and research at universities or in research institutions)
  • in the field of business (e.g. tourism)
  • business and cultural management
  • journalism
  • in the communications industry (advertising, PR, translation)
  • in national and international authorities
  • in the field of marketing
  • in the book industry (publishing houses, libraries, book trade)
  • press and public relations, media industry
  • educational institutions in international exchange

Free of charge.

However, each semester students must pay a social contribution (Sozialbeitrag) to the University of Bonn. This contribution is distributed as follows: more than half of the social contribution goes to finance the Semesterticket. About one third goes to the Studierendenwerk, which contributes, for example, to the maintenance of canteens, provides housing for students or organizes educational support. Smaller amounts go to student self-government (AStA), student councils and university sports. Student social organizations and relief funds are also financed.

For the winter semester 2023/2024, the value of the social contribution is 323,96€. For more information, please follow this link.

For formal questions and problems with the master's portal, please contact our study program managment by the e-mail: studiengangsmanagement.altamerikanistik@uni-bonn.de

You can also get in touch if you have any questions about the content of the master's degree.

There is also the Faculty of Philosophy's FAQ section, which answers questions related to your studies, from application to course credits to academic achievements.

I.- Admission

The current admission application period is from May 13, 2024 to September 2, 2024.

Informational sessions are available via Zoom. Please send an application request via email to: studiengangsmanagement.altamerikanistik@uni-bonn.de

Please follow the steps outlined below to submit an admission application:


Prepare the required documents as listed under the "Applicant Admission" section in PDF format. These documents must be translated into English or German by certified or legally recognized translators or interpreters. Certificates in French do not require translation.

Optionally, you may also upload a letter of motivation, internship certificates, and a CV to the application portal for a more comprehensive evaluation of your candidacy.

Important: No documents should be submitted via email.


Visit the Master's Application Portal website (link provided below). This portal is available in both English and German. Complete all required information to ensure your application is reviewed by the University of Bonn.


You will automatically receive an acknowledgment of receipt via email once you have completed the application process through the Master's Application Portal. In this regard, you must wait a maximum of six weeks from the end of the application deadline in each semester.


You will receive an email with the admission letter for enrollment in the student secretariat after the six-week period mentioned in step 3 has elapsed. To finalize your admission, you will need to complete the enrollment process.

Master's application portal

You can start your studies in any semester

Important Information for Your Studies

Here you can find documents related to the master's program (handbook, regulations, among others).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here you can find essential information for all stages of the master's program: from enrollment to graduation.

II.- Enrollment process

The enrollment process should only be undertaken upon receipt of the admission letter. This process consists of the following steps:


Verifica la fecha de matrícula en tu carta de admisión. Todos los documentos requeridos, así como sus traducciones deben ser presentados en el proceso de matrícula.

Important: Please bring the original documents when coming to the University.


Prepare the following documents:

  • Enrollment declaration (don't forget to sign it).
  • Admission letter for degree programs.
  • Identification document (ID card, passport).
  • University degree submitted during the admission process.
  • Electronic notification of mandatory health insurance.

Detailed information on the enrollment process (available in English and German) can be found at the following link:


You will receive a blue and pink document by postal mail upon completion of your enrollment process.

III.- Examination Office Registration

This is a mandatory third process and is only conducted in the first semester of studies. Without this registration, you will not be able to take the exams for the master's courses. This process consists of the following steps:


Check the deadlines for sending documents and complete the registration form for the examination office. For winter semester the deadline is usually in December for the summer semester in June.

You will find detailed information at the Examination office web page.


Have the following documents ready

  • Copy of your current student ID card
  • Copy of your valid identification document
  • Certified copy of your university degree (Bachelor's or equivalent)

Important: Please bring the original documents when coming to the University.


The documents must be sent via postal mail.

Course content of the Master's program

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© C. Jaimes


The M.A. program dissolves the disciplinary boundaries between archaeology, social and cultural anthropology, and material culture studies. Transdisciplinary approaches are addressed through a range of methods, some of which are based on ethnography, such as ethnoarchaeology and archaeological ethnography, and others on collaborative methods. The aim is to reflect on the role of archaeology and its objects in the present and how these are linked to individual or collective memories.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© N. Grube

 Writing and notation systems

The diverse notation and writing systems of indigenous traditions are researched using the methods of iconography, semiotics and epigraphy. The courses provide introductions and opportunities for in-depth study, especially of Maya hieroglyphic writing and other Mesoamerican scripts, but also of indigenous notation systems and iconographies that were used in other areas of the Americas and often experience a modern revival.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Bodleian Libraries


Ethnohistory deals with an extended selection of alternative theoretical and methodological approaches to deepen the history of marginalized socio-cultural and indigenous groups in the Americas over the long historical period and along various axes of discrimination. Textual, visual and material sources and their diverse interrelationships are used for this purpose. The methods are dealt with intensively in order to make the actors who have remained invisible for a long time visible in all their complexity.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Karl-Heinz Dürsch, 2013


The M.A. program focuses on transnational cultural and social anthropological theory and methods as well as regional competence in Latin America. The focus is on approaches from German-speaking ethnology as well as cultural and social anthropological approaches from the Americas. Students will be able to engage culturally sensitively and confidently in the theoretical debate on Latin America.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© A.M. Bucheli


One of the pillars of the M.A. program is Critical Heritage Studies, which is based on decolonial research practices committed to the sovereignty and self-determination of indigenous peoples. The program offers topics such as memory studies, museums and provenance research as well as questions of restitution. It discusses heritage as a process and as a political practice that generates emotional tensions and attachments, forms of knowledge and visions of the social world and space.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Abteilung für Altamerikanistik und Ethnologie

Amerindian Languages

In the compulsory elective area of the M.A. Anthropology of the Americas, students are free to learn one of the four Amerindian languages offered as part of a chosen regional specialization (Basic Module Amerindian Languages) and to deepen their language skills and knowledge of current linguistic research (Advanced Module Amerindian Languages). You can achieve a total of 20 ECTS in this field of study with two modules.

Practical and international experience during your studies

It is important to gain practical and international experience during your studies. Depending on their interests, interested students have a variety of opportunities to take part in teaching excavations during the semester break, participate in the department's research projects, complete internships at the department museum BASA, organize their own field research in the Americas, make contacts during semesters abroad and work with objects from the Americas in our courses. In addition, we offer various excursions in Germany, Europe and every few years in the Americas.

Bonner Amerikas Sammlung
© keine Ahnung

Working with archaeological and ethnographic objects

Objects from our teaching and research collection are regularly incorporated into many courses. This allows you to gain experience in handling and researching archaeological and ethnographic objects during your studies.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© C. Hizta


An internship is planned for the Master's degree, which can be completed either internally at the BASA Museum or in one of the department's projects, or externally. You can find more information and help with finding an internship on our internship page.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© K. von der Kaus

Study Abroad

Erasmus, PONS or direct exchange in the Americas? Our cooperation partners in Latin America and Europe offer the opportunity to get to know other university systems, academic perspectives and realities in one or two semesters. We are also happy to support you in your efforts to conduct your own field research for your thesis.

 Prof. Dr. Carla Jaimes Betancourt on diversity and her experiences in Germany and at the University of Bonn as part of the discussion "Identity, Participation, Diversity: An International Exchange of Experiences" recorded on 21.03.2023 by unibonntv.

Identität, Teilhabe, Diversität: Ein internationaler Erfahrungsaustausch

BASA Museum - Bonn Americas Collection

As an exhibition, communication, lecture, teaching and work space for students, teachers and researchers, the BASA Museum is the lively center of the Department of Anthropology of the Americas at the University of Bonn. The room is used for changing special exhibitions. The display depot is also located here, where a cross-section of the more than 10,000 objects in the collection is accessible. The BASA Museum presents itself to the city's public through the large display windows facing one of Bonn's busiest streets.

Museum Studies elective area

For more practical experience in the Master's degree, we offer the interdisciplinary supplementary area "Museum Studies". Together with students from other departments, you can get to know different areas of museum work in the three modules "Collecting, Researching and Preserving", "Exhibiting and Communicating" and "Law, Management and Marketing". In associated one-day seminars in museums in the region, experts will give you an insight into their activities and the way museums work. You will also have the opportunity to make initial contacts for possible jobs and internships during your studies.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Museumsstudien

Important information (links and downloads)

Here you will find the most important links for your studies.

  • In the module handbook, you will find the course content, coursework and examinations for each module
  • The examination regulations list coursework and examinations
  • You can find all the important information about examinations at the Examinations Office

Important: Don't forget to register for the Master's examination procedure at the beginning of your studies. Without registering for this, you cannot register for any examinations and are not allowed to take any examinations!

Study Program management and academic advising

Student Advisory Service

If you have formal questions about application procedures and deadlines, language certificates, BASIS problems, registration and examination modalities, please contact the degree program management. You can also discuss content-related questions with the program management.

Consultation hours take place by appointment. Please make an appointment by e-mail.


Katharina Pawlak, M.A.

+49 228  73-4653



2nd Floor, Room 2.004
Oxfordstr. 15
53111 Bonn

more Information

PhD Program

Would you like to continue your studies after your Master's degree? Here you can find all the information about a PhD at our department.


Here you can find all information about the library (lending, stock, opening hours).

International office

The international office is available to all students from abroad for all questions relating to their studies.

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