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Frequently Asked Questions

When is the deadline for submitting my application packet?

Our application deadline for a fall 2018 admission is Friday, December 1, 2017. Applications submitted without all required documents will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed for admission.

Do you offer a master's program?

We do not offer a terminal masters degree. All of our students earn a masters degree as they fulfill the requirements for the Ph.D.

Is it necessary to have a master's degree before applying to the Ph.D. program?

No, you may apply directly to the Ph.D. program without a master's degree.

Can the application fee be waived?

No. University policy does not allow the waiver or deferment of the application fee. If you cannot pay the fee yourself, a third party (friend or relative) may pay the fee on your behalf. Applications received without the fee cannot be processed.

Exception: The Penn State Graduate School offers application fee waivers for members of selected minority groups, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and Black/African Americans. McNair scholars also may be eligible. Students requesting fee waivers must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. For more information on the application fee waiver, please email Dr. Stephanie Preston in the Office of Graduate Educational Equity or for additional information on our program, please contact Dr. Kenneth Hirth.

Can the GRE scores be waived?

No. The GRE scores are part of the required application packet and cannot be waived.

What GRE test should I take?

The General Test.

What is the average GRE score of students admitted to your program?

The Department of Anthropology does not have a fixed level of GRE performance for admission.  We are looking for the best students who demonstrate a keen interest and ability in conducting original research.

Do you have a minimum GPA requirement?

No, we do not have a minimum GPA requirement; however, to be competitive a student must have a reasonably high GPA. On the application form you have a chance to explain if you feel your grades do not reflect your abilities. If your GPA isn't very strong, take advantage of this feature and tell us the reason(s).

How many are admitted to your program each year? How many apply?

We determine the number of students admitted based on funding available.  As a general rule, we admit five students each fall.  About 100 students apply.

Do you admit students for the spring semester?

We admit students in the fall semester only.

Is an undergraduate degree in Anthropology required?

No, students entering our program have backgrounds not only in Anthropology, but in biology, geology, geography, history, psychology, and many other disciplines. If your background in anthropology is weak, you will be required to take some courses to provide the background your adviser and committee think is appropriate for your research area.

Do you have funding available for students admitted to the program?

All students admitted to the program receive a funding package that includes a stipend and tuition waiver. We also offer enhanced funding packages to students with exceptional qualifications. Continued funding is conditional based on performance.

How and when does the department make admissions decisions?

The faculty begin reviewing applications in late December. Video interviews of selected applicants are conducted in January and recruitment visits are offered to chosen applicants in late January -early February. Admissions decisions to our first tier applicants are made by mid to late February.

Can I transfer credits that I've taken in another graduate program?

Yes. Transfer requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

How long does the program typically take?

This varies depending on the individual student. The average at Penn State is 6.7 years, much lower than the national average and that of other prestigious programs.

What kind of jobs do people obtain with a Ph.D. from this program?

Most of our graduates obtain academic positions. In addition, some work as researchers in the public and private sectors.

As an international applicant, what tests should I take?

  • Results from a recent Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.
  • International applicants who have received a baccalaureate or a master's degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following countries are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.