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Graduate Admission Requirements

Purdue University seeks graduate students with diverse intellectual perspectives and experiences, and accepts students without regard to age, race, gender, ethnicity, creed, national origin, disabilities, or sexual preference. The faculty members of the Graduate Committee, selected to represent the department's faculty and interests, make admission and funding (financial award) recommendations to the University's Graduate School. The Graduate Committee evaluates each applicant in terms of potential for success as a graduate student in this department and potential for successful professional work in the field of anthropology.

We encourage applicants to contact particular professors they are interested in working with prior to applying. We also encourage students to directly address in their applications how their work aligns with the Department’s Anthropologies of Tomorrow vision. Our Anthropologies of Tomorrow Strategic Vision Plan for the next five years includes central attention to new and continuing efforts to address the need to decolonize Anthropology and prioritize work to update our curriculum and program. We are identifying specific concrete priority actions we can take together to advance transparency in decision making, equality, and inclusion within our unit and in the broader community.

Our main focus areas are: 

  • Applied Anthropology and Public Engagement 
  • Ecological and Environmental Anthropology 
  • Health and Well-Being 
  • Identity, Heritage, and Social Justice 
  • Science and Technology 

DEADLINE: To be considered for the full range of funding opportunities, applications must be received by December 15

General Information

The Department has a general written English proficiency requirement for all degree-seeking graduate students in anthropology. All incoming students are expected to fulfill the written English proficiency requirement before beginning their graduate studies at Purdue. Students whose first and primary language is English satisfy the requirement if they earned a grade of B or better in an undergraduate English Composition course (or its equivalent) prior to graduate admission. Students whose first and primary language is not English satisfy the written English proficiency requirement if they score 5 or higher on the TWE.

Students admitted to the MS program must have completed a BA or BS degree. An undergraduate degree in anthropology is not necessary in order to be admitted to the graduate program; however, all graduate students are expected to gain and demonstrate a solid and substantive base in anthropology prior to advancement in the program. The Graduate Committee may require students to complete specific courses at the time of admission.

Students admitted to the PhD program should have completed an MA or MS in anthropology. Students with advanced degrees in other fields will be required to complete MS requirements in anthropology. Additionally, students entering the PhD program with an MS or MA from another institution will be required to demonstrate their expertise in their chosen sub-field of anthropology (sociocultural, archaeological, linguistic, and biological anthropology) by taking the qualifying examination by the end of the second semester in residence, or by supplying comparable materials from an earlier program in anthropology.

In addition to the list below, the Office of Graduate Admissions has a new admissions resource tool available on the Graduate School Web site that allows prospective applicants to search for admission documents required by country. The tool can be found on the How to Apply Web page under the bullet “Review your current/previous academic institution’s country for a listing of required admission documents.” The page contains a country drop-down selection menu and provides information for admission requirements such as degree completion, academic transcripts (original language and/or translations), proof of degree, and English Proficiency requirements. 

Application Requirements

Step 1:

Complete the Purdue Electronic Application for Graduate Study. Create an application account to start your Graduate School application.

You will be emailed a temporary PIN to log into the Graduate School Application. (Be sure to check your junk mail folder if you do not see the email.) Log in using your birth date and this temporary PIN. Once logged in, you will be prompted to create a password. Use this password along with your email address in subsequent logins. Review the GoldAnswers Web page if you require technical assistance while completing your application.

Step 2:

Pay the non-refundable Application Fee online via credit card: $60 for domestic applicants (including permanent residents) and $75 for international applicants. Information on fee waivers.

Step 3:

Submit a Statement of Purpose and a Curriculum Vitae (CV) with your electronic application. Anthropology at Purdue University is a leading-edge research-intensive department with a public service mission. We work across disciplines and use innovative, integrated anthropological approaches to expand human knowledge and address global grand challenges.

The statement of purpose (usually one to three pages) should state your research interests and professional plans. The statement should also identify the area(s) of concentration or specialization that attract you to the anthropology program at Purdue and any individual faculty with whom you hope to work. Describe any skills you have developed or experiences you have had, such as publications, awards, achievements, abilities, and/or professional history, that have helped you prepare for graduate study in anthropology. You also may explain any special circumstances applicable to your background. Our program emphasizes training for academic positions and non-academic positions involving social science research. Describe how this training fits with your career goals. If you are applying for the MS and anticipate continuing to the PhD, you may indicate this in the statement of purpose.

We request that you list in your Curriculum Vitae (CV) under the heading “Preparation for Research” any research-related skills and experiences, such as: language competence, technical skills, qualitative and/or quantitative skills, lab experience, practitioner experience, previous research, and any other relevant experience.

Optional: To be considered for the CLA Dean’s Graduate Fellowship Program, GRE scores are required.

Step 4:

Degree-seeking applicants must upload transcript(s) and/or academic document(s) for every institution of higher education attended regardless of whether or not a degree was received. If a degree was received then it must be printed on the transcripts. If no degree conferral is printed on the transcripts then a copy of the original diploma (degree certificate) is needed. If the documents are not in English, you must upload an English translation certified by the college or university which issued it.

The uploaded transcript and/or academic document may be from the official or unofficial version of the document. An official transcript bears the original signature of the registrar and/or the original seal of the issuing institution. An unofficial transcript printed from your current/previous institution(s) student system is not an acceptable document.  For tips about uploading your transcripts into the online application click here

A minimum 3.0 ("B") undergraduate cumulative GPA is required for admission. If personal identifying information such as a student identification number or social security number (or a portion of the SSN) appear on the document, either remove this information from your electronic version of your document or mark out the information in black ink before scanning your document. If you are admitted and choose to enroll at Purdue University, you must submit official transcripts before you can register for your third session. If official documents are not received, you will be unable to register for subsequent sessions and the University may take additional action.

Once you submit official transcripts to Purdue University, they become property of the University and will not be returned. The University recognizes, in very rare instances, that students may have access to only one transcript (or an extremely limited number of transcripts) or other academic credentials. In this instance, you may submit a written request (at the time you submit your transcripts) to preserve your original documents to the Office of Graduate Admissions. 

For more information about transcripts, please see the Graduate School’s webpage.

Step 5:

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required for degree-seeking applicants. The letters should preferably be from persons who can assess your academic potential such as faculty members or others who have served as advisors; those who have taught courses you have taken or have supervised you in a field-school or research setting. For applied anthropology, you may have letters from employers or supervisors that discuss your academic abilities, related work background, and potential for success in graduate school. Online recommendation providers will receive an email notification with instructions for accessing the recommendation system during the application process once you enter their names in the application.

For recommenders wishing to complete a paper recommendation, please send the recommendation form, linked here as a PDF, which can be completed and mailed to:

Graduate Program in Anthropology
Purdue University
700 W. State Street, Suite 219 
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2059

Step 6:

Submit a Writing Sample. The writing sample should be an academic paper written in English and/or research or project report for which the applicant had lead authorship. The sample will be uploaded as part of the application. 

Step 7:

Complete the Anthropology Questionnaire in the application system.

Step 8:

The GRE exam is no longer required for the application. Please do not send Purdue your GRE scores if you are only applying to the Department of Anthropology.

Step 9:

For applicants to the PhD program only: Please submit a one-page single-spaced summary of your intended PhD research topic. Please include theoretical frameworks, research questions, methods anticipated, and a selected bibliography with key sources. The bibliography does not count toward the one-page limit of the summary. The writing sample and research topic can be uploaded as one document.

Step 10:

For international non-native speakers of English only, the following are requirements in addition to the above steps. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam is required for international non-native speakers of English. The Graduate School accepts the following TOEFL English proficiency test scores: TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test), TOEFL iBT Home Edition, TOEFL iBT Paper Edition, TOEFL paper-delivered test*, and TOEFL Essentials.

Applicants must score 80 or higher on the Internet-based test (iBT), Home Edition, Paper Edition, or Paper-Delivered, in order to be considered for admission. In addition, applicants must achieve the following minimum test scores: reading, 19: listening, 14; speaking, 18; and writing, 18. Applicants taking the TOEFL Essentials test must score a minimum of 8  in all sections, as well as a minimum overall score of 8. Request that ETS transmit your TOEFL scores to Purdue University (Purdue University West Lafayette's Institution code: 1631). The Graduate School will routinely waive the English proficiency requirement for applicants who have received a degree within the past 24 months from a school where English is the primary language of instruction in one of the recognized English speaking countries.

As an alternative to the TOEFL, applicants may submit International English Language Testing System (IELTS) a minimum overall score of 6.5 or higher, with section scores of Reading 6.5, Listening 6.0, Speaking 6.0, and Writing 5.5.

 For more information, please see the Graduate School website.

Financial Support

Domestic and International students are eligible for fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. All funding packages include tuition waivers, partial fee remissions, and stipends. All admitted students are considered for funding.  Fellowships are based on merit and are highly competitive.

International students will be asked to provide the Purdue University Office of International Students and Scholars evidence of sufficient funds available to pay tuition and living expenses during their residence in the U.S. Fellowship and teaching assistantship funding letters from Purdue can be submitted as part of this process. Full costs for the semester are available from the Bursar's website at 

For more information on different funding opportunities available at Purdue, please visit the Grad School's website at or contact Graduate Office, at or (765) 496-7428.

Oral English Proficiency

Purdue University requires that any student whose first language is not English must demonstrate adequate oral English proficiency before being assigned duties involving direct instruction of students. This requirement must be met by taking the Oral English Proficiency Test (OEPT). International students offered teaching assistantships at Purdue are expected to pass the OEPT when they arrive on campus and before beginning the first semester of graduate study at Purdue.

Alternatively, students can be certified for oral English proficiency if they meet particular test scores for the TOEFL iBT or the IELTS. The TOEFL iBT features a speaking section, and a minimum speaking score of 27 is accepted for certification. Purdue will also accept a score of 8 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for oral English certification. TOEFL and IELTS scores are considered valid indicators for two years

For more information, please contact Anthropology Graduate Office, at or (765) 496-7428.

Helpful Resources for the Application Process