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Program Requirements

Graduate students work in one of our four research foci:
  •  The evolution of cultural complexity
  • The evolution of biology and humans: fossils, bones, bodies, behaviors and genes
  • The ecological context of humans in the past and present
  • Demography and the responses of human populations to social and environmental changes

Graduate students work closely with their adviser; before you apply, correspond with the faculty member you would like to work with.

Dual-Title Degrees

Please note that we have several formal dual-title degrees. Even if you are not considering a formal dual-title degree program, all anthropology students are encouraged to work with faculty in other departments and colleges as a normal part of their graduate program.

Program Requirements

Three Core Courses

Three required core courses are to be taken during the first four semesters:

  • ANTH 560: History of Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH 571: Principle of Human Evolutionary Biology
  • ANTH 588: Method and Theory of Archaeology

Proseminars each semester to review current literature

All students are required to enroll in the appropriate ANTH literature review seminar for one credit each semester during the first six semesters of study.  These seminars, which are also known as “journal clubs,” meet each week and are attended by faculty and the graduate students for the purpose of reviewing and discussing current articles published in key journals or recent books.

  • ANTH 521
  • ANTH 563

One foreign language

The student's committee, with the approval of the GAC, identifies the major foreign language that is most important for that individual’s research topic and future career development.   Students may fulfill this requirement by demonstrating spoken or reading proficiency in any language deemed appropriate for their research.  Students who are already bilingual in a language suitable for field research can petition the GAC to use their native language.

The language requirement must be passed by the end of the third year of residence if a student is to be judged as making adequate progress.  This requirement must be fulfilled prior to passing the comprehensive examination.

Quantitative requirement

To meet the department’s requirement you must first take or have taken an appropriate introductory-level applied statistics course (which you may already have taken as an undergraduate).  Second, you must take at least one more-advanced course.  Waivers of the requirement are possible for those who have already had sufficient coursework in statistics (at the appropriate level), but all such waivers must be approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee.   No one but the GAC can grant such a waiver.

Candidacy exam

A written candidacy exam is required of all students to continue for the Ph.D., normally near the end of the fourth semester of residence.  Students in most cases will have completed their core courses by the end of the third semester and will have time in the fourth semester to prepare for the candidacy exam.  The candidacy exams are normally given once a year in the spring semester, typically in April, by arrangement with the DGS and appropriate faculty members.

Comprehensive exam

The comprehensive examination is given to determine the student's readiness to conduct doctoral research.  Students that enter the graduate program with bachelor’s degrees should take the comprehensive examination by the end of their third year of study. The student must prepare a dissertation proposal in preparation for the comprehensive exam.  A final version of this document must be circulated by the student to all committee members at least two weeks in advance of the comprehensive exam.  No examination will be administered until the dissertation committee is satisfied with the proposal.

Model of progress

In order to provide a framework for evaluating student progress, the faculty has devised the following model for the graduate program, including both the master’s and doctoral programs. Note that there are exceptions to this model for students entering the program with master’s degrees from other universities. Students should:

  1. Complete the core courses (with the exception of ANTH 509) by the end of the third semester in residence.
  2. Take the candidacy examination by the end of the fourth semester in residence.
  3. Complete the M.A. paper and all thirty credits required for the master's degree by the end of the fourth semester.
  4. Identify the core of a provisional Ph.D. committee and obtain the signature of the faculty member who agrees to chair the Ph.D. committee by the end of the fourth semester.
  5. Complete ANTH 509 by the end of the sixth semester.
  6. Complete two concurrent semesters (summer sessions are not included) of full-time study within a twelve month period to fulfill the University residency requirement.
  7. Complete the language and statistics requirements by the end of the sixth semester.
  8. Complete a doctoral dissertation proposal during the sixth semester or no later than the eighth semester (in cases where progress is interrupted by field work).
  9. Complete the comprehensive examination during the sixth semester, or no later than the eighth semester. The exam format will be oral and/or written, and it is based on the dissertation proposal.


The Ph.D. dissertation is intended to be a demonstration of the ability to plan and execute a research program/project, and to present the results in a form consistent with the professional standards of the student's special field of research.  Although the process is carried out under the supervision of the doctoral committee, initiative, independence, and originality are expected from the student.


An examination in defense of the thesis is scheduled with the approval of the committee chair.  The timing of this examination should be such that final changes in the dissertation that may result can be incorporated, and the dissertation submitted to the Thesis Office, before graduation deadlines.

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