How to Apply

The Department of Anthropology’s online application will be available October 1, 2024 and the deadline to apply is December 1, 2024.

The Faculty of the Department of Anthropology recently voted to adopt a test-optional approach to graduate admissions and will no longer require the submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores by applicants. By removing barriers to application faced by some students, we aim to recruit a more diverse pool of exceptional candidates to our graduate program and allow all applicants to create the application package that best represents their abilities, interests, and motivations in applying to graduate school.

Please note that all materials, including your electronic application and official GRE and TOEFL scores (if either are applicable) must be received by the December 1, 2024 deadline or your application will not be reviewed for admission.

Instructions for all new Penn State graduate applicants:

  • Read the Graduate School requirements.
  • Proceed to the application.
  • You will be asked to provide 3 references on your application. Each reference will be emailed a link to the reference submission portal on the Graduate School’s application site. Be sure you have entered correct email addresses. No special form is necessary.
  • Upload the following to the Graduate School’s application portal with your electronic application:

Your CV should include all of the following that are applicable:

  1. Education
  2. Professional Appointments/Employment
  3. Awards and Honors
  4. Grants and Fellowships
  5. Publications (most recent first)
  6. Conference Presentations (posters and talks, most recent first)
  7. Teaching Experience
  8. Research Experience
  9. Service (to the profession, your university, or department)
  10. Professional Membership
  11. References
For application to the Penn State Department of Anthropology we ask that you include a statement of purpose along with answers to several additional questions. Details of each are described below. These materials are designed to give faculty consistent information and sufficient detail to fairly evaluate all applicants regardless of the particular degree program or academic background each comes from.

Your Statement of Purpose should take the form of a mini research proposal that tells us about your research interests and how they match with our department and specific faculty. Some guidelines:

  • What type of research would you want to pursue as a PhD student at Penn State?  Ideally, pose a question, define a problem, or indicate a theme that you might like to address as part of your graduate training. Show your depth of understanding in your chosen research areas, any related experience you have had, and your capacity for creative, original thought. For this statement, exploring one or two specific research questions deeply is better than superficially mentioning many topics. Even if you do not yet have precise ideas of what research projects you would like to work on as a graduate student, propose a hypothetical project that illustrates your interests and knowledge of a topic (research focus) while making it clear that you are open to different possibilities. In your proposal, please explain how your work will benefit from training and collaboration with the faculty and resources of the Anthropology Department and Penn State.
  • Length is variable, but we suggest applicants submit statements of purpose that are around 600-1000 words.
  • You are writing to professors. Use clear, professional language.
  • Have a trusted professor, colleague, or friend read your proposal and give you corrections and/or comments before you finalize and submit the statement of purpose.
There are also several Program-Specific Questions that you will be asked to answer as part of the department’s application.  Lengths given are guidelines rather than hard limits.
  1. What is your preparation for the PhD program? Talk about (a) your background and training in anthropology and related fields (e.g., biology, ecology, geology, genetics, psychology, etc.), along with (b) your relevant research experience in terms of class projects, fieldwork, laboratory research, etc. For research experience, discuss your specific role in the work, the scientific questions you asked, the methods you used, the results and conclusions. Without duplicating responses from elsewhere in the application, please briefly relate your past experience to the research that you would like to conduct in graduate school, and to your future goals. (400-500 words)
  2. Specifically describe your background in mathematics, statistics, coding/programming, computational methods, GIS, or any other kind of quantitative methods. This background could come from coursework, research experience, or be self-taught. (200-300 words)
  3. What is your motivation for pursuing a PhD in Anthropology? Why is the Penn State Anthropology program in particular a strong fit for your career goals? (200 words)
  4. Name at least two Penn State Anthropology faculty whose research interests you and explain why. We recommend that you read a paper by each faculty member and link the theory and findings to your own research interests. (300-400 words)
  5. Describe your experience, if any, and/or future interest in one or more of the following: diversity, equity, inclusion, outreach, science communication, or science education. (200-300 words)
  6. Are there special circumstances in your life that you believe have contributed to your development as an individual and a researcher? Is there any other information you wish to share? Note that this question is OPTIONAL. (200 words)

Applicants are required to electronically upload copies of transcripts (or equivalent documents for institutions outside of the U.S., e.g., degree/study certificates or diplomas) from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (and copies of an official English translation if English is not the language of instruction). Applicants recommended for admission who accept an offer through the online graduate admission system will be notified by the Graduate School that official/original transcripts/documents must be sent from the originating institutions in the official language of the institution(s) attended (and if the language of instruction is not English, an official English translation must also be sent). The Graduate School will review all official documents to finalize the offer of admission. An offer of admission will be revoked if official/original documents are not received by the Graduate School within specified deadlines, or if official/original documents differ from the copies uploaded by the applicant prior to the offer of admission. For applicants whose degree conferral is in progress at the time of uploading copies, the deadline specified for receipt of official/original documents will allow for the passage of the reported date of degree conferral, and that conferral must be confirmed on the official/original documents received by the Graduate School, in order for the offer of admission to be finalized.

International Students must submit the following additional items with their application:

  • 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.