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The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology is awarded to students who have shown mastery of the general materials of anthropology and a substantial command of the specialized subject matter of one or more of the four subfields, and who have successfully carried out and formally presented research judged to constitute an original contribution to the discipline.

Admission to the Doctoral Program

Students without substantial experience beyond the BA are not normally admitted directly to the PhD program. Although an MA is not required for admission or for the completion of the PhD, most students complete an MA in the course of their doctoral studies, either by submitting a thesis or through the two-paper option (see MA requirements).

Applicants with graduate work at other universities are required to submit GRE aptitude test scores along with their applications, TOEFL where applicable (see MA Program admission requirements).

Course requirements for the Doctoral Degree in Anthropology

  • Minimum credits satisfying master's requirements (subfields, ANTH 501 and 504, and electives): 30
  • Electives (exclusive of ANTH 580, 590, 591, 599, 698, 699, and including no more than 8 credits of ANTH 597, and not more than 8 credits of course work outside of anthropology) to be chosen with the advice of the student's guidance committee and the written approval of its chair: 26
  • ANTH 699, Dissertation, as required to maintain registration after admission to candidacy.
  • Total minimum credit hours: 56

Students who have completed an MA at another university or in another discipline may request credit for up to 30 credit hours toward the PhD, and they may request exemption from one or more of the subfield distribution requirements on the basis of previous graduate coursework in the relevant area. Students should address such requests to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Foreign language and research skill

See language requirement for the master's degree. Students having completed an MA at another university that required a language examination may submit evidence of having satisfied this requirement. In some instances, the choice of research area by the student may require demonstration of additional language proficiency (e.g. due to a lack of relevance of the language competence previously demonstrated). Students should seek the advice of the members of their doctoral committee regarding appropriate language and research skills for the pursuit of their individualized programs of study.

Admission to candidacy

To be admitted to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology, a student must have satisfied at least the minimal course credit requirement (at least 56 hours, exclusive of courses graded below B-, with a GPA of 3.5 or better) and language requirements as determined by the student's doctoral committee. In addition, a student must:

  1. pass a written examination covering three literature areas (one of which may be a regional competency examination)
  2. propose a dissertation research project in colloquium before the department
  3. pass an oral examination administered by the guidance committee in which questions address both the written exam and the colloquium
  4. Within six months after admission to candidacy, submit a dissertation prospectus approved by the student's doctoral committee.

Granting the degree

Each doctoral candidate must demonstrate the ability to complete an original research project and submit the findings in a dissertation acceptable to the student's dissertation committee. Upon approval by this committee, the dissertation must be defended in a public defense attended by the candidate's committee, an outside reader appointed by and representing the dean of the Graduate School and any others who wish to attend. A successful defense and submission of the dissertation to the Graduate School complete the requirements for awarding the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology.

Guidelines for Graduate Study in Anthropology

Students are advised to consult the department's Guidelines for Graduate Study for additional information regarding graduate orientation, mentoring, funding, time-to-degree expectations and degree requirements.


Last Updated: 8/2/16