PhD Degree Requirements

At least 90 total credit hours are required to complete the PhD program, including coursework and research credit hours. PhD program students will take at least a total of 48 semester hours of graduate-level courses beyond the Bachelor’s degree (including MS and PhD level courses).

For students who have already completed 36 credits as part of their MS requirements in this department, a further 12 credits of coursework are required. For students who have completed a master's degree or professional doctoral degree from another accredited institution, their coursework may be considered to contribute up to 30 credit hours toward satisfying this requirement at the discretion of the student’s graduate program.  In this case, of the remaining credit hours required, a minimum of 18 credits will be taken as coursework. The student in conjunction with their major advisor and advisory committee will develop a plan of study with considerable depth in selected areas of specialization using courses within and outside the department.

PhD coursework will include at least two 600 level courses in the department (students should check with their faculty advisor to determine if an external course substitution is appropriate) supplemented with elective graduate offerings and reading courses within or outside the department. Students are encouraged to take advantage of any and all 600 level departmental seminars that are appropriate for their programs. Students are required to meet a non-English language requirement using existing graduate school guidelines.

Students who have completed a master's degree or professional doctoral degree from another accredited institution will need to enroll in the core subfield and theory courses needed to meet our standards of broad proficiency and in order to take the qualifying examination during their first year in our program.

In Anthropology, language competency is often needed for reading global scholarly literature and may be necessary for successful completion of field research in anthropology. Language coursework or demonstrated proficiency is normally required as part of the student’s progress in the doctoral program. The language requirement may be waived by the advisory committee only in exceptional circumstances, and with the approval by the Graduate Committee.

Non-English language exam requirements should be satisfied concurrently with or prior to the completion of the preliminary examination and before students embark on a main phase of dissertation data collection.

Students who have completed a master's degree or professional doctoral degree from another accredited institution need to pass the qualifying examination by the end of their first year to be fully prepared for more specialized study towards the PhD degree. The exam will include written and oral components and will be prepared by the student’s advisory committee in consultation with other faculty within the student’s subfield.  A passing qualifying examination demonstrates competency in the literature of an anthropological subfield(s)  and the ability to communicate that knowledge effectively. The goal of the qualifying exam is to assess the student’s general sub-disciplinary expertise. The options on the Qualifying Exam will be  “Pass”, “Pass with distinction” or "Fail". A student who passes with distinction will have satisfied one of the requirements for admission to the PhD program. Students continuing from the MS will not be required to retake the qualifying exam.

The preliminary examination is intended to demonstrate mastery of the student’s anticipated research problem and to certify that the student is competent to work on the dissertation. To become eligible to take the examination, the student must have an approved plan of study, satisfactorily completed most of the formal study, and satisfied any world language requirements.

Exams usually take two weeks, but other arrangements can be made by the committee in consultation with the student. In order to be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree, each full-time student must pass a preliminary examination in Anthropology which is to be taken typically during the second semester of course registration for the PhD degree, but no later than the end of the fourth semester of course registration in the PhD program. The examination includes both written and oral sections and will include (besides method and theory) other areas from within the specialty declared by the student in consultation with their committee. In our department, the preliminary examination is usually formulated in consultation with a draft of the preliminary PhD research proposal, in order to resonate with topics relevant to the student’s specialty and research project. The examination will be constructed and evaluated by the student's committee in the areas chosen and under the direction of the major professor.

A student must prepare a dissertation proposal in consultation with their major professor and advisory committee; a formal committee meeting to discuss a complete draft of the proposal is strongly advised before it is finalized. The final version of the written proposal must receive the formal written approval of the major professor and advisory committee before data collection begins (form to be filed with the graduate program office). Although an oral defense of the proposal is not required, students will be required to conduct a 30 minute departmental presentation and discussion prior to commencing PhD data collection. The student must obtain final approval on the proposal and any necessary IRB/PACUC approvals before commencing dissertation data collection.

Following the approval of the proposal and the public presentation, the student will research and write a dissertation in their area of specialization under the direction of the major professor. There will be a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

A complete draft of the dissertation, which has already been approved by the faculty advisor, should be in the hands of the committee at least six weeks before the scheduled deposit date. Students who do not meet these deadlines will delay their graduation from the program.

When, in the opinion of the student’s advisor and dissertation committee, the dissertation is complete (having been revised in response to committee comments), the student will defend it in an oral examination conducted by the members of the dissertation committee and any interested members of the Anthropology faculty. The examination will be publicly announced two weeks prior and open to all faculty and others who wish to attend.

The presentation should present an overview of the dissertation fieldwork and research questions as informed by theory, methods, and results. This will be followed by a question and answer period, and then the committee may excuse the public for the closed door portion of the exam. The presentation and public question and answer period will generally not exceed 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The final oral examination is a defense of the dissertation and is taken at least two semesters after successful completion of the preliminary examination.


Applied Practicing Anthropology

African American Studies

Ecological Sciences and Engineering (ESE) 

Ingestive Behavior

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 

Anthropology and Gerontology


Inclusive Excellence Graduate Certificate Program

*Detailed requirements are available in the Anthropology Graduate Student Manual.

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