Ph.D. in Anthropology

Ph.D. in Anthropology

We offer a depth of study in all four anthropological subfields: Archaeology, Bioanthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Social-Cultural Anthropology. Our graduate students choose one of these fields for specialization, and may take courses in or pursue an inside minor in any of the other fields.

You may also select one of three concentrations to supplement your graduate school coursework:

  • Archaeology and Social Context
  • Food Studies
  • Paleoanthropology

Each of these supplemental concentrations involves its own breadth requirements within Anthropology that may require further class work.

All four fields of study have the following requirements in common.

Foreign language and research skills

To fulfill your foreign language requirement, select one of the three options below:

  1. Reading proficiency in two foreign languages, one normally selected from French, German, Russian, Spanish, or Portuguese (consult advisor for additional languages)
  2. In-depth proficiency in one foreign language, normally selected from French, German, Russian, Spanish, or Portuguese; or
  3. Reading proficiency in one of the foreign languages cited plus proficiency in data management and analysis software or statistics.

Qualifying examination

In order to be recommended to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree in anthropology, you must pass a qualifying examination. This exam cannot be administered until the foreign language or research skills and other requirements have been fulfilled and until at least 60 credit hours have been earned. Students are strongly encouraged to complete course work and take the qualifying exam within three years.

You will work with your advisory committee to decide on the format of the exam, choosing from among the following options:

  1. A take-home exam, or
  2. A proctored in-camera exam, or
  3. An exam combining elements of the first two formats.

The advisory committee prepares, administers, and grades the examination, allowing other members of the department to participate without voting. A passing grade requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the faculty on the examining committee.

Grading is as follows:

  1. pass with distinction
  2. pass
  3. low pass with terminal M.A. degree
  4. failure

The qualifying examination may be retaken once.

Both (a) and (b) include certification to doctoral candidacy and the M.A. degree if desired and not already awarded.

Research Proposal

You must circulate your research proposal to the advisory committee at least two weeks before the qualifying examination. The research proposal must include:

  1. A statement of the research problem
  2. A literature review related to that problem
  3. The methodology to be employed
  4. A tentative timetable of data collection and analysis
  5. A discussion of funding prospects and the budget (if a grant application has been or will be submitted). All grant applications must be discussed with your academic advisor.

Students are normally examined on aspects of their research proposal during both the written and oral portions of their qualifying examination. Nomination to candidacy and appointment of the research committee cannot take place until the research proposal has been accepted by the advisory committee.

All proposals that include the use of living human subjects must receive advance clearance by the IUB Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects) regardless of whether external funding is sought. This clearance is required for use of informants, participant observation, interviews, and questionnaires, as well as more invasive research such as measurement and testing.


You must prepare a doctoral dissertation as part of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree. This dissertation may be the result of fieldwork or laboratory or library research. The department expects field research as part of your doctoral training in anthropology, but the dissertation may be based upon field data, laboratory data, museum collections, archives, or other documentary sources. The topic and general outline of the proposed dissertation must be approved by the candidate’s research committee.

Final defense

An oral examination of the dissertation—which cannot be waived—will be scheduled and administered by the candidate's research committee.


The department considers teaching experience to be a critical part of graduate training. Therefore, every effort will be made to provide teaching opportunities for each graduate student.

Subfield requirements


An inside minor (9 hours of coursework) must be selected from among the other fields in Anthropology (Bioanthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, or Social-Cultural Anthropology). The following required courses must be completed with a grade of B or better:

  1. Pro-seminar in Archaeology (P500)
  2. A course in research design (P502)
  3. A course in the archaeology of the geographic area of specialization
  4. An archaeological methods course
  5. Archaeological Ethics (P509)
  6. A course in the history of Anthropology (usually H500)
  7. A course in the ethnography of the geographic area of specialization
  8. Human Osteology (B526)

The following courses are required, and must be completed with a grade of B or better:

  1. B500
  2. B525
  3. A course in human evolutionary history
  4. A course in human biology

In addition, students must complete 3-4 courses in at least two of the other subfields of anthropology: Archaeology, Bioanthropology, and Social-Cultural Anthropology. 

Expertise will be evaluated as part of the qualifying exam. Option 3 must be chosen for the Foreign Language and Research Skills requirement, with students gaining reading proficiency in at least one scholarly language, as well as in statistics and/or other data management and analysis software.

Linguistic Anthropology

The following courses are required, and must be completed with a grade of B or better:

  1. L500
  2. H500
  3. One graduate course in two of the other fields of Anthropology (Archaeology, Bioanthropology, or Social-Cultural Anthropology)
  4. three graduate courses chosen from the five basic areas of linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and historical and comparative linguistics)
  5. one course in linguistic field methods
  6. two additional courses in Linguistics or related fields

In the qualifying exam, each student must demonstrate mastery of Linguistic Anthropology, one chosen area of specialization (e.g., language description, history, culture, discourse pragmatics, semiotics, or language conflict and shift), and one enthnographic area.

Social-Cultural Anthropology

The following courses are required, and must be completed with a grade of B or better:

  1. H500
  2. E500
  3. E606
  4. one graduate course in two of the other fields of Anthropology (Archaeology, Bioanthropology, or Linguistic Anthropology)

In the qualifying exam, each student must demonstrate mastery of Social-Cultural Anthropology, two chosen areas of specialization and one enthnographic area.