Ph.D. Requirements

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Overview Ph.D. Program

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.


Ph.D. students in Anthropology must complete 30 graduate credit hours prior to completion of the Ph.D. qualifying exam, demonstrating competency in a set of Core Topics:

  • Professionalism
  • History/Theory in the Four Fields of Anthropology
  • Knowledge in one's Area of Specialization
  • Stewardship/Engaged Research
  • Research Methods

All courses must be selected in consultation with the student's faculty advisor.

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

All students seeking a Ph.D. must undergo a Qualifying Exam upon completion of their coursework, ideally in the second semester of their second year of study. The Qualifying Exam is a holistic evaluation of the student's suitability for the Ph.D. program, taking into account the student's overall capacity and preparation for graduate study leading to the Ph.D., the student's intellectual ability, self-application, creativity, portfolio of work, and prior performance in the program.

Students have the option of undergoing the Qualifying Exam in conjunction with or shortly following their MA exam. Students who elect not to receive the MA will have a standalone oral Qualifying Exam, with exam questions drawn from topics related to the student's written portfolio, administered in a closed session. If the students fails the exam, they may attempt the exam once more in written form. 

Following completion of the Qualifying Exam, students complete 18 additional graduate credit hours. 

Oral Comprehensive Examination & Dissertation Proposal 

All Ph.D. students must pass an Oral Comprehensive Examination by their fourth semester of post-M.A. enrollment (or completion of the Qualifying Exam). This exam will be based in part upon a dissertation proposal, which must be approved by the doctoral committee at least three weeks before the Oral Comprehensive Examination is scheduled. The exam is administered by the doctoral committee and is closed to the public. Upon passing the exam, students are advanced to doctoral candidacy.

Defense of the Dissertation

When the dissertation is accepted by the dissertation committee, a final oral examination is held. The final oral examination is open to the public.

Handbook for Graduate Students

Detailed information, application deadlines, and general information may be found in the Graduate Student Handbook, available upon request.