Anthropology Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

The program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in anthropology is designed primarily as preparation for a career of teaching and research at the college and university level or research and administration in industry and government. The department has major geographical strengths in Mesoamerica and Northeastern North America. These specialty areas crosscut the traditional subdisciplines of archaeology, biological anthropology, ethnology, and linguistics. Other specializations can be defined for degree candidates according to the interests and qualifications of faculty supervisors.

Ordinarily the program leading to candidacy requires four years of full- time study and research, the first two at the master's level. Students entering with a master's degree equivalent to this department's can anticipate spending two years of additional full-time study and research before entering candidacy.

Program of Study and Research (60 credits, minimum)

The program of study requires that the following general sequence be completed before the concluding half of a program of study and research is undertaken. A master's degree may be awarded after completion of this phase.

First Phase

  1. Anthropology: Ant 502, 504, 506, 508, and one course as advised from each of two of the following subdisciplines:
    1. Archaeology: Any course in the series Ant 530-39, 630-39 as advised;
    2. Biological Anthropology: Any course in the series Ant 510-19, 610-19 as advised;
    3. Ethnology: Any course in the series Ant 553, 575, 641, 643, 660-679 as advised;
    4. Linguistics: Any course in the series Ant 520-29, 534, 620-29 as advised.
  2. Proficiency in any subdiscipline may be demonstrated through departmental examination, and specific course requirements may be waived.
  3. Research requirement: Satisfactory completion of a research seminar and one research paper acceptable to the department must be presented.
  4. Teaching requirement: Students awarded teaching assistantships (T.A.s) must take Ant 582 Practicum in College Teaching and should take it as early as possible in their programs.

Departmental Comprehensive Examination

The student must pass a comprehensive examination in anthropology with distinction before starting the concluding half of the doctoral program of study and research. The comprehensive examination, consists of two written exams based on comprehensive material from two of the four subdisciplines of anthropology, including materials from required courses plus an additional reading list provided by each area.

Second Phase

After completion of the first phase, the student follows a program of study and research planned in consultation with his/her Doctoral Committee. The student submits a program proposal that defines two special fields, the manner in which he/she expects to prepare for those fields, the research tool requirement, and a preliminary dissertation subject proposal.

Coursework beyond the master's level must include a minimum of four regularly scheduled courses at or beyond the 600 level.

Special Field Examinations

Students will pass qualifying examinations in each of two special fields defined by the Doctoral Committee. The special fields are subject areas of anthropological significance with relevance for the research interests and fieldwork plans of the student. They may pertain to theory, methods, geographical areas, or other substantive issues. For each special field, the Doctoral Committee will define a test problem or question, and a time limit for completion of a written answer to the question. Time limits range from one to four months.

Methods Requirements

  1. Anthropological Methods Requirements.

    Students are required to complete successfully two courses on anthropological methods. The courses must be approved by their dissertation committee.

    Students may substitute a methods course not on the above list (e.g., variable-topic seminars that focus on anthropological methods, or appropriate methods courses from other departments) subject to approval by their dissertation committee and the Graduate Affairs Committee. Demonstrated proficiency in an anthropological field language (i.e., oral fluency) may substitute for one methods course, with approval from the student's dissertation committee and the Graduate Affairs Committee. Students should note that some subdisciplines have recommended sequences of methods courses, and it is the responsibility of the student to be aware of these guidelines and to follow them in consultation with their committee.

  2. Research Tool Requirement.

    The University requires doctoral students to demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language, and/or to demonstrate competence in another appropriate research tool. The Department of Anthropology requires completion of the Research Tool Requirement in a foreign language relevant to the student's own program of research and study. The choice of a language must be approved by the student's dissertation committee.

    Competence in the foreign language (e.g., a reading knowledge adequate for research) may be demonstrated in one of four ways. (1) If a doctoral language examination is administered by a University department for the selected language, successful completion of that exam will constitute competence. (2) Competence may be demonstrated by successful completion of one of the University's graduate-level intensive language courses (e.g., French 500A, German 500A, Spanish 500A). Credit from these courses does not count toward the Ph.D. degree. (3) If a recognized standardized examination of graduate-level reading skills is offered for the language, this may be used to certify competence. (4) Competence may be demonstrated through the written examination of the student by a faculty certifier or recognized authority. The faculty certifier or recognized authority, who must be approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee, must be a fluent speaker of the language who can assess the reading skills of the student.

Beyond the Research Tool requirement, the Department encourages students to acquire skills in additional languages and/or other methodological research tools in order to further their individual training. Coursework toward these additional languages or methods will of course count toward the Ph.D. degree.

Dissertation Research Proposal

Students will submit a written proposal for dissertation research to their Committee, and this proposal will be defended before the faculty. The written proposal will be in the format of a grant proposal of a type appropriate for dissertation research (e.g., the National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant). It should include a problem statement, review of literature, statement of objectives, discussion of methods, and a statement of significance.

Full Time Study in Residence

Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (9 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory completion of all course and credit requirements;
  2. Satisfactory completion of the language or research tool requirement;
  3. Completion of University residence requirements;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the special fields examinations and defense of dissertation proposal.


The student must submit an acceptable dissertation which represents a significant and original research contribution in his/her area of primary specialization.

Please note: This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.