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PhD in Anthropology

Our PhD program focuses on three subfields: archaeology, biological anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. We prepare students for a position as a college or university-level researcher and/or teacher, or for an advanced non-academic research position. A master’s degree is not required for admission, and students with a bachelor’s or master’s degree are welcome to apply.

Are we the right PhD program for you?

Brown Bag Series
All graduate students are encouraged
to attend their weekly subfield brown
bag or reading group.

The program you choose should have faculty with expertise in the area (both theoretical and geographical) in which you intend to concentrate. One way to assess your match with our department is to read through our faculty profiles or by looking through the research specialties and themes that our program emphasizes. In addition, as the PhD requires a minor field of study we encourage you to explore faculty research areas and topics in other related departments at the University.

Sociocultural Anthropology

Students are expected to take two core seminars in anthropological theory. In addition, students are expected to become familiar with a range of topics within sociocultural anthropology. This can be fulfilled by taking at least two graduate-level seminars on topics outside your area of specialization. Students are also required to take the core methods seminar that covers topics such as fieldwork techniques, conceptualizing research, research proposal writing, and ethics in sociocultural anthropology. The core theory seminars and the methods seminar are taught in alternate years. Students may also conduct independent study or directed reading courses with individual faculty.  Please see the list of current and regularly-taught graduate seminars in anthropology as well as the faculty research and regional specializations

For more information about this program, see chapter 3 of our graduate student handbook.

Biological Anthropology

In our biological anthropology program we offer training and research opportunities in two main areas: paleoanthropology and behavioral biology. We prepare students for academic positions as researchers and teachers, and also for advanced, non-academic research positions in the public and private sectors. The behavioral ecology specialty involves the study of the behavior and ecology of living primate species, including humans, through field studies and the analysis of long-term data. Please see the list of current and regularly-taught graduate seminars in anthropology as well as the faculty research and regional specializations

For more information about this program, see chapter 5 of our graduate student handbook.


The program in archaeology offers training and research opportunities in the use of anthropological theories and interpretive strategies in the reconstruction of historic and prehistoric pasts based on material culture, the application of faunal and lithic analysis to questions in paleoecology and evolutionary theory, and the application of archaeological science to the reconstruction of site formation. Please see the list of current and regularly-taught graduate seminars in anthropology as well as the faculty research and regional specializations

For more information about this program, see chapter 4 of our graduate student handbook.


Each subfield has specific core theory and method seminars as described above. However, all PhD students must fulfill credit requirements and maintain an adequate GPA to remain in the program.


The following credits are required for the PhD in anthropology:

  • Minimum of 36 academic credits
    • 24 in your PhD program
    • 12 in a minor or supporting program
  • In addition, 24 thesis credits are required

Academic credits should be completed no later than the semester you take your preliminary oral exam (usually in the spring semester of your third year). All first-year students are expected to carry a full load of courses each semester (i.e., between 6 and 14 credits). 

Transfer Credits

Students may transfer up to 12 graduate credits from other institutions. Official transcripts of the graded work must be submitted, the coursework must be at the graduate level, the course taught by faculty authorized to teach graduate-level courses, and the graduate credit earned after you received your undergraduate degree. The number of credits accepted for transfer is determined by the graduate committee in consultation with your advisor.


Graduate seminars are taught at the 8000-level; 4000- and 5000-level courses can be counted toward your degree program as long as they are taught by members of the graduate faculty or by a person authorized by the department to teach graduate-level courses.

Thesis Credits

Doctoral students are required to enroll for a minimum of 24 thesis credits (8888). Students may register for thesis credits as early as their first semester in the program. 

Minor Requirements

Students are required to complete 12 credits in a minor or supporting field. This should be decided in collaboration with your advisor.

GPA Minimum Requirement

The department requires maintaining a minimum of a B average (3.0) and in every class that is counted toward your program on your graduate degree plan. Students with a GPA less than 3.0 may be put on probation or dismissed from the program. 

Preliminary and Final Examinations

All three subfield programs require students to prepare three papers in topical, regional, or research specializations. These are defended in a preliminary oral examination after which students become a doctoral candidate. Following completion of dissertation research and writing, students are required to submit the dissertation for a final oral examination before they can be awarded the PhD degree.

See chapters 3 - 5 of the graduate handbook for detail specific to each subfield program.

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