Anthropology, PhD

for the Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology

head of the department: Brenda Farnell

director of graduate studies: Ellen Moodie

museum studies program coordinator: Susan Frankenberg

overview of admissions & requirements:

overview of grad college admissions & requirements:

college website:

department website:

department faculty:

department office: 109 Davenport Hall, 607 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

phone: (217) 333-3616


The Department of Anthropology offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees. We generally do not accept students for a terminal M.A.

Graduate Degree Programs in Anthropology

Anthropology, MA

Anthropology, PhD

optional concentration: Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education

Museum Studies Graduate Minor


Students without the equivalent of the department’s undergraduate concentration may be admitted to either degree program, but they may be required to make up any deficiencies in their anthropological backgrounds. In addition to the Graduate College admission requirements, students are required to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Students whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), with minimum scores set by the Graduate College. Students are admitted for the fall term only.

Students wishing to pursue the minor in Museum Studies must be in good standing in the graduate program of an academic department, and must apply for acceptance into the minor. Admission to the minor is contingent upon approval of the student’s home department and the Museum Studies Steering Committee. Students may apply to the minor during the first week of the fall and spring semesters in any academic year, and should contact the Museum Studies Program Coordinator for application instructions or more information.

Degree Requirements

Each subfield (Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Sociocultural/Linguistic Anthropology) requires a specific set of courses for graduation. Achieving doctoral candidacy in all three subfields entails passing (a) language (and/or skill) exam(s), (b) passing a set of preliminary examinations, and (c) successfully submitting a predissertation paper, and/or a doctoral proposal, all to be defended in an oral examination. For specific details and requirements for admission to and navigation of the Ph.D. program, please refer to the Anthropology Department Graduate Programs Handbook and the University of Illinois Graduate College Handbook.

Graduate Teaching Experience

Although teaching is not a general Graduate College requirement, the Anthropology Department recognizes the importance of teaching experience as part of a graduate education. Most Anthropology graduate students will have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants, to learn to design their own classes, and possibly teach their own classes.

Faculty Research Interests and Facilities

Courses and individualized study provide broad coverage of sociocultural, linguistic, archaeological, and physical anthropology. The department provides special emphases in the analyses of state ideologies and cultural transformations; complex societies in transition; kinship and gender relations; politics, economics, and business studies; social movements and youth; border studies, criminalities, violence, and security; religion, race, and ethnicity; democracy, governance, and policing; social classification; performance and embodiment; food and environment; language and culture; discourse and narrative analysis; transnationalism and diasporas; human evolution; agricultural origins and development; landscape histories and heritage; hunter-gatherer adaptations; climate change and sustainability; diet and nutrition; paleoecology and paleobiology; evolutionary genetics; population genetics; peopling of the Americas; ancient DNA; biomechanics of locomotion; exercise and neurobiology; functional morphology; comparative and analytical osteology; forensics; demography; immunology; evolutionary medicine; microbe-host interaction; reproductive ecology; female reproductive physiology; conservation; and nonhuman primate evolution, morphology, behavior, and ecology. The department’s research facilities include laboratories for archaeology, GIS and spatial computing, faunal analysis, casting, stable-isotope analysis, ethnography, ancient DNA, skeletal biology, locomotion and motion analysis, and endocrinology.

Departmental funds and a grant from the National Science Foundation, as well as from area studies centers, are available for graduate students’ summer field research. An archaeology field school is held at various locations in Illinois and outside of the US (location varies from year to year). Graduate student programs are enriched by close departmental relationships with the various interdisciplinary units, including area studies centers on campus (African, East Asian and Pacific, European Union, Latin America and Caribbean, Russian and East European; South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), the ethnic and gender studies units (the American Indian Studies Program and the departments of African-American Studies, Asian American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Latina/Latino Studies), along with the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program, Spurlock Museum, the Museum of Natural History, Krannert Art Museum, the Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Program in Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials.

Agreements between the University and various governments and institutes facilitate research in many nations. Training is available in various languages (some with funding available), including Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Quechua, Lingala, Russian, Shona, Swahili, Thai, and Urdu. Students have ready access to the extensive computer facilities of the University and to the department’s facilities.

Financial Aid

University fellowships, Graduate College fellowships for under-represented minorities, and teaching and research assistantships provide variable levels of funding for most graduate students who do not hold external awards. Tuition and service fee waivers accompany most fellowships and assistantships. Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships are available through various area centers. University of Illinois public archaeology programs, including the Illinois State Archaeological Survey and the Public Service Archaeology and Architecture Program, have provided support and research employment for graduate students in the past, as has the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign.

for the Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology

The preliminary examination consists of a pre-dissertation research paper, a proposal for doctoral research, and a written examination designed by the student's doctoral committee followed by a two-hour oral examination. The final examination is a defense of the doctoral thesis.  Fieldwork is strongly recommended, although not required.

Master’s degree or equivalent number of hours32
Electives 32
Language Requirement: High proficiency in one, or reading ability in two, foreign languages is required. Statistics, computer modeling, or similar expertise, however, may be used in lieu of one foreign language.
ANTH 599Thesis Research (min/max applied toward degree)0-32
Total Hours96

Other Requirements1

Other requirements may overlap
Masters Degree Required for Admission to PhD? No
Qualifying Exam Required No
Preliminary Exam Required Yes
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required Yes
Dissertation Deposit Required Yes
Minimum GPA: 3.0