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Graduate Studies

The graduate program in anthropology is a highly selective doctoral program leading to the Ph.D. degree. The first three years are devoted primarily to course work. Beyond that, each doctoral student is expected to develop, in close consultation with his/her faculty advisors, an original, strongly focused doctoral-research project that involves substantial field-based and/or laboratory-based research. The student's doctoral research must build on, and go beyond, existing scholarly work, thereby making a significant contribution to the discipline of anthropology.

Temple University's Department of Anthropology is committed to producing doctorates in anthropology who are well prepared for professional careers in academia, government, non-profit/non-governmental organizations, or the private sector. Our goals are to ensure that our doctorates:

have acquired sufficient knowledge of the four traditional subdisciplines of American anthropology (namely, archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology) to be broadly conversant in the key issues of each; to teach a four-field undergraduate survey course (e.g. "Introduction to Anthropology"); and otherwise to function intellectually and professionally as a researcher, teacher, advisor/mentor, and colleague within a four-field department of anthropology

have developed broad-based mastery of one of the four subdisciplines, and are able to demonstrate that mastery through competent participation in all relevant professional activities associated with their chosen field, such as giving professional presentations at regional and national conferences; competing successfully for research funding; carrying out original research; participating in the peer-review process; publishing original work in journals, books, and other scholarly publications; and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels

are prepared to make significant original contributions to their areas of research specialization, to their subdisciplines, and to the discipline as a whole through their research, publishing, teaching, and service activities.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions.

Does the Department have a graduate-level "track" in Anthropology of Visual Communication/Historical Archaeology/Linguistic Anthropology/Bioarchaeology...?

No. Unlike our undergraduate program, which has formally designated "tracks" that undergraduate majors and minors may choose to follow, our graduate program does not have "tracks."

As in any academic department, however, our faculty members have expertise in certain areas, but not others; we offer specialized courses in some areas, but not others; our department is an excellent place in which to develop some kinds of research, but not others. For these and related reasons, we strongly recommend that you make personal contact with one or more faculty members before you apply for admission; it is important to determine whether the Department would be the right place for you.

All graduate-level degrees that the Department confers are degrees in anthropology—not archaeology, not anthropology of visual communication, etc., but anthropology. As this suggests, we expect all of our graduate students to develop broad-based knowledge of anthropology as a holistic discipline, including all four of the traditional subdisciplines: archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. At the same time, each graduate student is expected to develop a specific, well-focused program of original research in close consultation with his/her faculty advisors. Indeed, this is one of the main goals of doctoral-level studies, whether in anthropology or any other field of study.

Does the Department offer a master's-degree program?

No. All applicants who are admitted are admitted into the doctoral-degree program.

What is the Department's acceptance rate? How many new students enter the doctoral program each year?

Our acceptance rate is approximately 10%. The number of applicants accepted each year varies, depending on such factors as the Department's ability to offer financial support and the availability of particular faculty members to serve as advisors to new students. In recent years, our newly incoming cohorts have generally had four to six students.

Are there specific things that I should do before beginning the application process?

Yes. It is important to make certain that Temple University's Department of Anthropology would be the right place for you. Toward this end, we strongly suggest that you make personal contact with the one or two faculty members whose research interests are closest to your own. (An email message is usually the best way to begin; after that, you might make arrangements to talk by telephone and/or to visit.) It is important to establish that at least one faculty member (or, better, two or more) will be able and willing to work closely with you for the next several years.

Other useful preparations include formulating in writing your specific research interests; identifying three persons who will be able and willing to provide letters of recommendation in support of your application; and preparing for the GRE, if you have not already taken it (or if you need to re-take it in order to improve your scores).

Is financial support available?

Yes. We are committed to providing at least four years of full financial support to our doctoral students.

After four years, further support may be available from the Department or from other Temple University sources. Even if not, students should be well positioned, by that time, to obtain external support for their doctoral research in the form of grants and fellowships from various agencies (such as the Fulbright Program, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and others).

Well-qualified applicants who are offered admission to the doctoral program are nominated for Temple University fellowships, of which there are three categories: Presidential Fellowships, University Fellowships, and Future Faculty Fellowships. These fellowships are awarded through a competitive process: recipients are selected by a committee of faculty and administrators at the Graduate School level (not at the Department level). In general, our goal is to accept applicants whose qualifications are strong enough to make them competitive candidates for these fellowships. Fellowships provide full tuition remission, a stipend for living expenses, health insurance, and other benefits for four years.

To the extent possible, accepted applicants who do not receive Temple University fellowships are offered four years of financial support at the Department level in the form of teaching assistantships and research assistantships. (Teaching assistantships are the most common form of departmental support.) Assistantships involve a maximum of twenty hours of work per week during the academic year in exchange for full tuition remission, a stipend for living expenses, health insurance, and other benefits.

If the Department is unable to offer financial support to an admitted applicant, s/he will be informed of this as soon as possible and will be advised to consider carefully whether or not s/he will be able to obtain adequate funds from other sources.

I have received a letter from the Graduate School informing me that I have been admitted. But it does not include an offer of financial support. Does this letter of admission mean that I am being offered financial support?

No—at least, not necessarily and not yet.

The Graduate School requires that applicants be formally admitted before the Department nominates them for Temple University fellowships. This puts the Department in the position of having to admit applicants several weeks before we know how many can be offered financial support.

Soon after an applicant is formally admitted (so that s/he can be nominated for a fellowship, as mentioned above), the Graduate School sends a letter of admission to the applicant. But it is not until some weeks later that the Graduate School notifies the Department as to how many of our applicants have been chosen for fellowships.

Almost inevitably, this means that the Department ends up in the position of not being able to offer financial support to some applicants who have received letters of admission from the Graduate School. The reason for this is simply that the number of admitted applicants who have not been chosen for fellowships by the Graduate School almost always exceeds the number that the Department can support by means of assistantships.

This being the case, if you have received a letter of admission from the Graduate School, please wait for a letter from the Department of Anthropology as to whether or not financial support is available for you.

Is the GRE required? What level of GRE scores is required?

Yes, all applicants are required to submit GRE scores. The GRE must be taken well in advance of the application deadline in order to ensure that the scores will be submitted to Temple on time.

At the Department level, GRE scores are only one consideration among several, and they are always considered in light of multiple other factors, such as the applicant's undergraduate academic record, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, etc. We are well aware that some people "don't test well," and we do not regard standardized-test scores as strongly predictive of academic success. Various aspects of your application—such as a strong grade-point average based on rigorous undergraduate courses, strong letters of recommendation, and a well-focused statement of purpose—are more important to us than your standardized-test scores.

At the Graduate School level, however, GRE scores are an important factor in the awarding of fellowships. This being the case, we strongly advise you to do everything possible to elevate your GRE score as much as possible through the use of study guides and practice tests, test-preparation courses, etc.

Applicants who receive Temple University fellowships typically have GRE scores above 310 (verbal + quantitative) under the current (since 2011) scoring system, or above 1300 (verbal + quantitative) on the previous scoring system (before 2011). In terms of percentiles, this typically means scores above the 80th percentile for the verbal portion of the test, and above the 50th percentile for the quantitative portion of the test.

Where should my academic transcripts and letters of recommendation be sent, and how?

Academic transcripts and letters of recommendation cannot be submitted through Temple's online application system. They should be mailed directly to the Department at this address:

Prof. Paul Garrett
Director of Graduate Studies
Dept. of Anthropology
Temple University, 025-21
1115 W. Berks Street, room 208
Philadelphia, PA 19122

A link to the Temple University Graduate School's recommendation form ("Reference Report for Graduate Study"), which should accompany letters of recommendation, is available here.

Transcripts should be sent directly from the issuing institution's office of academic records, and letters of recommendation should be sent directly by the persons who are recommending you. (In other words, these materials should not pass through your hands and should not be sent by you.)

All other required application materials (including GRE scores) should be submitted electronically through the online application system. The online application system is administered by the Graduate School, so if you encounter problems in using it, you should contact the Graduate School, not the Department.

Is a résumé, curriculum vitae (CV), writing sample, or portfolio of scholarly work required as part of the application process?

No. Nothing is required or expected beyond what is specified in the standard application for admission. Applicants who nevertheless feel that it is important to submit additional materials for consideration may mail them to the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Paul Garrett, at the mailing address shown above. (But again, this is neither required nor expected.)

Temple's online application system indicates that some of my application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.) have not yet been received. What should I do?

Nothing. Temple University's online application system generally does not indicate the actual status of your application. After the application deadline of 5 January has passed, if we in the Department find that any part of your application is missing, we will notify you by email and/or by telephone.

Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in anthropology in order to be admitted to the graduate program?

No. Having earned an undergraduate degree in anthropology certainly provides excellent preparation for graduate studies in anthropology. But we are receptive to applicants who have a wide range of other academic backgrounds, whether in the social sciences, the humanities, or the natural sciences. The field in which you earned your undergraduate degree is only one consideration among several. If your undergraduate degree is in a field of study far removed from anthropology, it is a good idea to explain in your application how it has prepared you for graduate studies in anthropology, and/or what other factors have led you to anthropology.

Is it possible to take graduate-level courses without applying to the graduate program, or before applying?

Yes, it is possible to take some graduate-level courses as a "non-matriculated" student. In general, non-matriculated students are limited to taking our "Approaches" courses in the four traditional subdisciplines of anthropology: "Approaches in Archaeology," "Approaches in Biological Anthropology," "Approaches in Linguistic Anthropology," and "Approaches in Sociocultural Anthropology."

Up to three courses can be taken on a non-matriculated basis. Taking courses as a non-matriculated student does not in any way guarantee that you will later be admitted into the doctoral program, should you apply; it may not even improve your chances of admission, no matter how good your work as a non-matriculated student might be. Multiple factors have to be considered in the admissions process, and this is only one.

If you are interested in taking courses as a non-matriculated student, contact the Department's Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Paul Garrett.

Does the Department hold an open house or other organized event for prospective applicants, or for admitted applicants?

No. Prospective applicants and admitted applicants who have a serious interest in joining the Department are welcome to visit on an individual basis, however. If you would like to arrange a visit, contact either the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Paul Garrett, or the faculty member(s) whom you are most interested in meeting.

Are there any required courses?

Yes. Our four "Approaches" courses in the traditional subdisciplines of anthropology are required, and should be taken as early as possible. The four courses are: "Approaches in Archaeology," "Approaches in Biological Anthropology," "Approaches in Linguistic Anthropology," and "Approaches in Sociocultural Anthropology."

There is another "Approaches" course, "Approaches in the Anthropology of Visual Communication," which is not required of all students but is strongly recommended for some.

Overall, the doctoral program requires 48 credits—typically, 16 courses at three credits each. Apart from the four required courses that are named above, students choose their courses in consultation with their faculty advisors. Some of these courses may be taken in other departments, as appropriate.

I already have a master's degree. Can my master's degree be applied toward the doctoral degree in anthropology?

It is usually possible for at least some of the course credits from a previously earned master's degree to be applied toward the doctoral degree, provided that the master's degree is in anthropology or a closely allied field of study.

Students who enter the doctoral program with a master's degree in anthropology may apply for "advanced standing" after successfully completing the first academic year. Up to 24 credits (typically, the equivalent of eight courses) may be applied toward the doctoral degree. Students who enter with a master's degree must take the Department's four required "Approaches" courses, even if they have taken equivalent courses at another institution.

If the master's degree is in a field of study other than anthropology, selected courses may be applied toward the doctoral degree if they are anthropological in orientation and/or if they are strongly relevant to the student's planned doctoral research in anthropology. Any such course must be considered and approved by the Department's Graduate Committee on a case-by-case basis.

A final consideration is that the courses must be relatively current. In general terms, courses taken within the past five years are considered acceptable; courses taken longer than five years ago may not be accepted.

Is there a "weeding-out" process? Do graduate students have to compete against one another in order to remain in the doctoral program?

No. We only admit applicants who are well qualified and who show strong promise of being able to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree. These requirements include doing independent research and writing a dissertation that makes a significant original contribution to contemporary scholarship in anthropology.

We do not admit applicants on the assumption that some won't "have what it takes" and will have to be "weeded out." Similarly, we do our best to avoid putting students in the position of having to compete against one another for grades, financial resources, etc. We are committed to helping all of our students succeed, provided that they are making good-faith efforts to succeed.

Earning a doctoral degree in anthropology is not for everyone, however. Inevitably, some students end up leaving the doctoral program before completing the degree, either by personal choice or because they have failed to make satisfactory progress toward degree completion. Each student's progress toward degree completion is formally evaluated by the full faculty on an annual basis.

How long does it take to complete the doctoral degree?

Completing a doctoral degree in anthropology tends to take longer than completing a doctoral degree in most other academic disciplines. Most doctoral students in anthropology do long-term field research; spending a year in the field (which may be a distant locale) is typical. Before doing so, one typically has to obtain external funding in the form of one or more research grants or fellowships; this too can take a year or more.

The ideal scenario is to complete the doctoral degree in seven years. (A student who enters with a previously earned master's degree in anthropology may be able to complete the doctoral degree in six years.) For a variety of reasons, many students end up needing more than seven years; eight to nine years is more typical.

For further information, see "The Perfect Doctoral Student's Seven-Year Plan" below.

The Perfect Doctoral Student's Seven-Year Plan

Year 1:

Take six courses (three per semester), including as many of the four Approaches courses as possible.

Consult regularly with your faculty advisor.

Formulate and clarify your doctoral-research interests and goals. Start putting them into written form; it's never too early.

Satisfy the language-proficiency requirement.

Participate vigorously in all department activities, including (especially!) those that involve venturing outside your own area of specialization.

Year 2:

If you have graduate course credits or a master's degree from another institution and would like to transfer them/it for use toward your doctoral degree at Temple, inform the Graduate Committee and make the necessary arrangements for transferring credits/seeking advanced standing.

Take six courses (three per semester); complete the four Approaches courses, if you didn't do so in Year 1.

Satisfy the language-proficiency requirement (if you didn't do so in Year 1).

Continue formulating and clarifying your doctoral-research interests and goals.

Keep up that vigorous participation in all department activities (which should be habitual by now.)

Year 3:

Take four courses, thereby completing the requirement of 48 credits (typically 16 courses @ 3 credits each).

Form your doctoral-qualifying-examinations committee (three faculty members, at least two from the department, including your primary advisor).

Make preparations for your doctoral-qualifying examinations, in consultation with your committee.

Satisfy any technical-skill requirement(s) that have been specified by your committee.

Formulate your written doctoral-research proposal.

Conduct preliminary field research, if possible.

Year 4:

Register for "Preliminary Exam Preparation" (9994), one credit per semester, in order to maintain continuous enrollment and your status as a full-time student.

Apply for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of your doctoral-research protocol.

Finalize your doctoral-research proposal, in consultation with your doctoral-qualifying-examinations committee.

Request permission from the Department's Graduate Committee to take your doctoral-qualifying examinations.

Make final preparations for, and take, your doctoral-qualifying examinations.

Form your doctoral-advisory committee. (It may have the same composition as your doctoral-qualifying-examinations committee, but not necessarily.)

Advance to doctoral candidacy.

Prepare and submit applications for grants, fellowships, or other external funding to support your dissertation research.

Conduct preliminary field research, if possible.

Year 5:

Register for "Dissertation Research" (9999), one credit per semester, in order to maintain continuous enrollment and your status as a full-time student.

Make all necessary preparations for your dissertation research.

Conduct your dissertation research.

Prepare and submit applications for grants, fellowships, or other funding to support the writing of your dissertation when you return from the field.

Year 6:

Register for Dissertation Research (9999), one credit per semester, in order to maintain continuous enrollment and your status as a full-time student.

Finish your dissertation research.

Recover (briefly) from your dissertation research.

Write at least half of your dissertation, in consultation with your advisory committee.

Year 7:

Register for Dissertation Research (9999), one credit per semester, in order to maintain continuous enrollment and your status as a full-time student. (You must have two credits of 9999 in order to graduate, and you must be registered for a credit of 9999 in the semester in which you graduate.)

Write the other half of your dissertation, in consultation with your advisory committee.

Form your doctoral-dissertation-examining committee. (Normally, this is a matter of adding to your doctoral-advisory committee an external examiner who has not been involved in your work previously, who is a specialist in your area, and who is willing to read and comment on your dissertation.)

Schedule and prepare for your dissertation defense.

Defend your dissertation.

Revise, finalize, and formally submit your dissertation to the Graduate School within thirty days of your defense.


Answers to other questions can be obtained from the following sources.

Information for prospective graduate students/applicants:

General information and resources:


Information about the graduate program in Anthropology:


Graduate-level courses offered by the Department of Anthropology:


How to apply for admission:


Information for incoming and current graduate students:

College of Liberal Arts resources:


Graduate School policies and procedures:


Graduate School calendar:


To obtain a listing of all graduate-level courses offered by the Department of Anthropology:


To obtain a listing of graduate-level courses being offered by the Department in a given semester:


Potential sources of funding for pre-doctoral-dissertation research, doctoral-dissertation research, and dissertation-writing:

American Anthropological Association's "Fellowships and Support"
Temple University Office of Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising
Temple University Graduate School list of external funding sources
Institute of International Education
Wenner-Gren Foundation
Wenner-Gren Foundation's "Other Funding Sources"
Fulbright Program
Fulbright-Hays Program

Fulbright–National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
Spencer Foundation
Boren Awards for International Study
Ford Foundation
National Science Foundation
National Institutes of Health
Social Science Research Council
Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program

American Council of Learned Societies
American Philosophical Society
American Association of University Women
Smithsonian Institution
Leakey Foundation
National Park Service, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program
Archaeological Institute of America

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
American Institute of Indian Studies

SRI Foundation
National Geographic
School for Advanced Research
Council for European Studies
William T. Grant Foundation
Council of American Overseas Research Centers
Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa
Marcus Garvey Foundation
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund
Explorers Club
Getty Foundation
Inter-American Foundation
United States Institute of Peace

Other useful resources concerning grants and funding:

"Grant Preparation Information and Tools" (a Case Western Reserve University site)
"Sample Grant Proposals" (an Indiana University site)
"Sample Research Proposals" (a University of Florida site)
"QualQuant" (devoted to social-science research methods; note the institutes, courses, and field schools)

Guides for preparing grant applications:

"On the Art of Writing Proposals"
"Writing Grant Proposals for Anthropological Research"

If you cannot find the information that you need in this page:

Incoming and current graduate students:

Contact your faculty advisor.

Prospective graduate students/applicants:

Contact the Department of Anthropology's Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Paul Garrett, at paul.garrett@temple.edu.

For (much) more detailed information about the Temple University Graduate School's requirements and procedures, which apply to all doctoral students in all departments, refer to: http://www.temple.edu/grad/policies/gradpolicies.htm

Department of Anthropology | Gladfelter Hall, second floor | 1115 West Berks Street | Philadelphia, PA 19122
Voice mail: 215-204-7577 Fax: 215-204-1410