KU Anthropology: Graduate Programs

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in anthropology is awarded to candidates who have demonstrated specialized competence in one or more of the general fields and who have contributed to the body of knowledge and theory in the specialized field through independent, original research.

Residence Requirement

Two semesters, normally consecutive, or one semester and one summer session must be spent in resident study at KU.


Students must complete at least 24 graduate credit hours of post-MA coursework, of which no more than 9 may be graduate research or reading hours (ANTH 896 or 996), and exclusive of dissertation hours (ANTH 999). Students should select their courses under the guidance of their faculty advisor or committee.

Field Statements

Students must become thoroughly familiar with the literature pertinent to their specializations and doctoral research problems. The student who submits field statements is asserting that he or she has achieved competence in limited areas defined by the subdiscipline, as demonstrated by bibliographies and written treatments of the research problems in those areas. The comprehensive examination is based on the areas specified in the field statements.

Research Skills & Responsible Scholarship Requirement

The Graduate Studies' policy on Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship also requires the following:

  1. Every doctoral student is required to have training in responsible scholarship pertinent to the field of research.
  2. Every doctoral student is required to obtain research skills pertinent to the doctoral level of research in their field(s).

Languages or other research skills used to satisfy the RSRS requirement must be approved by the student's committee. Since these are research skills, students are advised to master them early in the program, so they may be utilized in further course work, independent study, and research. The aspirant must satisfy one of the following options before proceeding to the oral comprehensive exam:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive reading and speaking knowledge of one foreign language relevant to the student's research interests, in which there exists a significant research literature in anthropology. Non-native speakers of English may use their native language to fulfill this option only if the language is considered to be an adequate research tool for their program.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the reading of two foreign languages relevant to the student's research interests, in which there exists significant research literature in anthropology.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the reading of one foreign language relevant to the student's research interests, in which there exists significant research literature in anthropology, and competence in another research skill relevant to the student's research in anthropology. This latter requirement may be satisfied by knowledge of a language in which there is no written research literature, but which the student will employ in fieldwork.
  • Demonstrate competence in two research skills relevant to the student's research in anthropology.

Doctoral students in anthropology must pass the following course. Master’s students are encouraged to take it as well.

  • ANTH 707 - Responsible Research & Scholarship in Anthropology. This course examines a range of issues critical to responsible research, scholarship, and practice in anthropology. Topics include: anthropological codes of ethics; protection of human subjects, informed consent, and confidentiality; appropriate conduct in field and laboratory research; data management, curation, and dissemination; proper protocols for authorship, submission of publications, and peer review; classified and proprietary research; mentor-student relationships; professional collaborations. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in anthropology or consent of instructor. Required for all doctoral students in anthropology.

Oral Comprehensive Examination

When student’s doctoral committee is satisfied with the caliber of the student’s field statements, the student may proceed to the oral comprehensive examination, providing all other requirements have been fulfilled.

Dissertation Proposal

From the beginning of doctoral study, the student should plan to conduct a doctoral dissertation project. This is an independent piece of research, usually requiring fieldwork, and leading to a dissertation that contributes to anthropological knowledge.

Defense of the Dissertation

When the dissertation is accepted by the dissertation committee, a final oral examination is held.

Handbook for Graduate Students

Detailed information, application deadlines, and general information may be found in the Graduate Student Handbook, available on the Helpful Links for Graduate Students page.

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