Anthropology PhD


Learn more about the Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology.

About the Program

The PhD program in Anthropology provides students with training that integrates the four traditional subfields of the discipline and organizes their engagement with anthropology around two thematic areas:

  • The first thematic area, Mobility and Global Inequality, emphasizes social processes and institutions that underlie the impact of peoples’ movement and the experiences they encounter in terms of social inequalities, resource distribution and power inequities. It is marked by emphasis on ethnographic, linguistic, and visual data and analytical methods grounded in contemporary theory in the social sciences.
  • The second thematic area, Evolution and Human Environments, emphasizes the origins and development of all forms of human adaptations in the bio-social realm. It is marked by emphasis on ecological, geographic and spatial-historical data, as well as quantitative analyses grounded in evolutionary theory.

All students in the program complete a set of core courses, which includes foundational courses in the thematic areas and history of the discipline. Additional core courses provide professional training in ethics and grant writing in the discipline. Students complete elective courses allowing them to specialize in the literature, theory and unique subdisciplinary perspectives most relevant to their intended dissertation research. Faculty from the subfields of Anthropological Linguistics, Biological Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Prehistoric and Historic Archaeology, Sociocultural Anthropology, and Visual Anthropology contribute to the program.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: Full-time status is strongly encouraged, although some students may be able to complete the degree program on a part-time basis.

Interdisciplinary Study: Anthropology is an inherently interdisciplinary field of study.

Study Abroad: Study abroad is not required, but many students conduct their independent research outside the United States.

Areas of Specialization: Faculty members specialize in such areas as anthropology of visual communication, archaeology of the eastern United States and tropical Americas, historical archaeology, human evolutionary biology, human genetic and physiological variation, language socialization, political economy of language, politics of cultural identity and difference, and sociocultural dynamics of globalization.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: Non-matriculated students are generally restricted to the following five courses:

History of Anthropological Theory
Mobility and Global Inequality
Evolution, Human Environments, and the Culture Niche
Ethical Considerations in Anthropology Research
Funding and Grant Writing in Anthropology

Taking coursework as a non-matriculated student does not ensure acceptance into the doctoral program if the student later applies for admission. If a non-matriculated student is later admitted into the doctoral program, a maximum of 9 credits of non-matriculated coursework may be applied toward the degree.

Financing Opportunities: Outstanding applicants are nominated for Temple University's Presidential and University Fellowships, which provide four years of tuition remission, a living stipend and other benefits. Limited numbers of Teaching and Research Assistantships are also available for well-qualified applicants. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for external grants and fellowships.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall:  January 5; December 10 international

Before preparing and submitting the application for admission, the applicant should, if at all possible, establish personal contact with at least one faculty member in Temple's Department of Anthropology. This should be a faculty member whose areas of research interest overlap with those of the applicant, and who could potentially serve as their faculty advisor.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be requested from individuals who are well positioned to evaluate the applicant's academic abilities and accomplishments as well as their potential for graduate study.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A master's degree is not required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A baccalaureate degree (BA/BS) is required, but it need not be a degree in Anthropology.

Statement of Goals: In approximately 800 to 1,000 words, address your main area(s) of scholarly interest; the specific research topic that you intend to make the focus of your graduate studies; the experiences that have led you to graduate studies in Anthropology; the specific reasons for your interest in Temple's graduate program in Anthropology and the faculty members with whom you envision yourself working most closely; and your career goals.

Standardized Test Scores:
GRE: Optional. Scores may be submitted if available.

Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 79
  • IELTS Academic: 6.5
  • PTE Academic: 53

Advanced Standing: After completing the first academic year, a student who entered the doctoral program with a master's degree in Anthropology (or a closely related field) may petition the Department's Graduate Committee for advanced standing. The maximum number of advanced standing credits that can be accepted is 24.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required to Earn the Degree: 43

Required Courses:

Core Courses
ANTH 5396History of Anthropological Theory3
ANTH 8001Mobility and Global Inequality3
ANTH 8002Evolution, Human Environments, and the Culture Niche3
ANTH 8012Ethical Considerations in Anthropology Research3
ANTH 8330Funding and Grant Writing in Anthropology 13
CLA 8985Teaching in Higher Education: Liberal Arts1
Methods Course
Select one from the following:3
Quantitative Analysis of Anthropological Data
Methods in Archaeology
Field Session in Archaeology
Fieldwork in Ethnography
Anthropological Problems in Visual Production
Anthropology of Public Culture
Language as Social Action
Language Socialization and Cultural Reproduction
Methods in Linguistic Anthropology
Methods in Physical Anthropology
Teaching of Anthropology
Electives 218
Research Courses 36
Preliminary Examination Preparation
Pre-Dissertation Research
Dissertation Research
Total Credit Hours43

Approved Electives Grouped by Theme

Evolution and Human Environments
ANTH 5171Comparative Early Civilizations3
ANTH 5172Seminar in Northeastern Prehistory3
ANTH 5796Biocultural Adaptation of Human Populations3
ANTH 5797Reproductive Biology of Human Populations3
ANTH 5798Seminar in Evolutionary Biology3
ANTH 8005Approaches in Physical Anthropology3
ANTH 8006Approaches in Archaeology3
ANTH 8110Problems in Archaeology3
Mobility and Global Inequality
ANTH 5177Approaches to Historic Sites in Archaeology3
ANTH 5180Historic Sites in Archaeology3
ANTH 5310Theories and Methods in Cultural Anthropology3
ANTH 5322Anthropology and Development3
ANTH 5325Culture, History, and Power3
ANTH 5328Seminar in Social Organization3
ANTH 5332Medical Anthropology3
ANTH 5335Anthropology and Social Policy3
ANTH 5355Anthropology of Sexuality and Gender3
ANTH 5358Race and Class in North America3
ANTH 5366Contemporary Perspectives in Urban Anthropology3
ANTH 5428Theory and Methods in Culture and Communication3
ANTH 5438Anthropology of Mass Media3
ANTH 5501Language, Power, and Agency3
ANTH 8003Approaches in Cultural Anthropology3
ANTH 8004Approaches in Linguistic Anthropology3
ANTH 8310Problems in Socio-Cultural Anthropology3
ANTH 8320Problems in Ethnology3
ANTH 8340Advanced Seminar in Social Anthropology3
ANTH 8344Seminar in Expressive Culture3
ANTH 8366Violence: An Anthropological Approach3
ANTH 8408Approaches in the Anthropology of Visual Communication I3
ANTH 8409Approaches in the Anthropology of Visual Communication II3
ANTH 8429Problems in the Anthropology of Visual Communication3
ANTH 8435Seminar in Visual Anthropology and the Arts3
ANTH 8550Current Issues in Linguistic Anthropology3

Language Examination: Each doctoral student must pass a written examination of proficiency in a language other than English, preferably by the end of the second year.

Culminating Events:
Comprehensive Exam:
At the end of the fourth semester, students  take a comprehensive examination. This exam is meant to assess the integrated knowledge gained in the five core anthropology courses. A committee of faculty who teach the five courses write this exam. All members of a cohort take the same exam.

Dissertation Research Proposal:
Students must have an approved doctoral dissertation research proposal in order to advance to doctoral candidacy. The research proposal must be approved by the student's advisory committee before taking the preliminary examination for doctoral students. Students whose proposed research involves working with human subjects must apply for approval from Temple's Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Preliminary Examination for Doctoral Students:
Each student must pass the preliminary exam before being advanced to doctoral candidacy. This examination is written by the members of each student’s Preliminary Examination Committee and is intended to evaluate the student's knowledge of the field, readiness to perform doctoral research, and preparedness to write a doctoral dissertation. The preliminary exam should be completed no more than one year after the student finishes their coursework. No student may take the preliminary examination more than twice.

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy:
A doctoral student is advanced to doctoral candidacy when upon completing all requirements for the doctoral degree except the research, writing and defense of the doctoral dissertation. These requirements include completing all required coursework, passing the comprehensive examination, writing an acceptable dissertation research proposal, passing the preliminary examination for doctoral students, and fulfilling the language proficiency requirement. A student cannot be advanced to candidacy with a grade of "I" (Incomplete) or "NR" (No Record) on their transcript.

Doctoral Dissertation:
The doctoral dissertation must constitute a significant, original, research-based contribution to scholarship in the student's field of study. It must also conform to the rules set out in Temple University Graduate School's Dissertation and Thesis Handbook.

Upon advancement to doctoral candidacy, each student must form a Doctoral Advisory Committee. This committee must include at least two Graduate Faculty members from the Department of Anthropology, one of whom serves as the student's primary academic advisor and as chair of the committee. The committee may also include one or more Graduate Faculty members from other Temple schools/colleges, departments or programs; faculty members from other universities; and/or other doctorally trained experts. The members of the Doctoral Advisory Committee supervise the student's doctoral research and the writing of the dissertation.

The completed dissertation is read and evaluated by a Dissertation Examining Committee, which consists of the members of the Doctoral Advisory Committee plus an external reader for the dissertation defense. The external committee member is ideally a member of the Graduate Faculty at Temple but may not be from the faculty of the student's home department and may not have been involved in the planning, execution or write-up of the dissertation research. A faculty member from another university or other doctorally trained expert may also serve as the external committee member with approval of the Graduate School. In addition to being evaluated and approved by the committee members in its written form, the completed doctoral dissertation must be presented and defended orally by the doctoral candidate.


Program Web Address:

Department Information:

Department of Anthropology

210 Gladfelter Hall

1115 W. Polett Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6089


Submission Address for Application Materials:

Department Contacts:


L. Christie Rockwell, PhD


Director of Graduate Studies:

L. Christie Rockwell, PhD


Chairperson, Associate Professor:

Kimberly D. Williams, PhD

Director, Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT)