General Overview of Admissions

The CU Boulder Anthropology Department trains students in three of the four subdisciplines of Anthropology (Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Cultural Anthropology), and we seek promising graduate students in each of these areas. We receive approximately 150 applications each year. Our target for each entering class is approximately 15 (five in each of the three Subdisciplines of Anthropology that our department supports). We reach this target by admitting some students and placing others on a waitlist; we admit students from the waitlist as other students decline the places we have offered them. On average, we offer admission to approximately 20 to 25 applicants per year. Although we train students at the MA level and many of our students have left after their MA to take jobs in their fields, the standards we apply to all applicants have to do with their potential to carry out research of the quality we would expect in doctoral-level research.

Financial support for our students is relatively limited, and primarily takes the form of teaching assistantships (TAs), which provide both a stipend and tuition remission. We also have limited fellowship money. In general, we allocate fellowship money to incoming students at both the MA and PhD levels, and preferentially allocate other funds to students at the doctoral level, including some incoming doctoral students. There are additional funds available through university-wide competitions, but we are allowed to nominate only one incoming student for these competitions, and we do not always succeed in them. Unless an incoming student is awarded support through one of these competitions, we are unable to promise multi-year packages of financial support. However, we have been successful in most recent years in offering at least some support to all ongoing students who have requested it.

Prospective applicants generally have undergraduate degrees in Anthropology, with focused coursework in their chosen subdiscipline. We prefer that applicants with other kinds of backgrounds have sufficient coursework in Anthropology or other relevant background to demonstrate a basic familiarity with all three of the subdisciplines we support, and we may require students with insufficient familiarity to take undergraduate classes to acquire it. Applications will be reviewed by subdisciplinary faculty (that is, applications in Archaeology will be reviewed by the archaeologists, etc.) before they are brought to the full faculty, so please indicate your subdiscipline clearly on your application. We evaluate prospective students holistically: grades and GREs matter, as do letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, and experience outside the classroom (field and laboratory experience can be particularly important). Applicants are permitted, but not required, to submit one (1) example of their best written work. If you choose to submit an example of your work, we cannot return it to you.

We also seek students whose interests are within our areas of expertise. You should look at the interests of our individual faculty members and contact the faculty you might want to work with, but the following are general statements regarding the topical specializations of each of our three divisions.

  • Archaeology: The archaeology subdiscipline provides continuous geographic coverage of ancient societies from the Plains of North America through the Southwest and Mesoamerica to the Intermediate Area. The native societies we focus on range from egalitarian hunter-gatherers through middle range societies to the city-states and empires of Mesoamerica. The faculty's theoretical and topical interests include human ecology, ethnoarchaeology, agency and social theory, lithic and ceramic analyses, remote sensing, disasters in ancient and modern times, and geophysical applications in archeology.

The following faculty members will be accepting new graduate students for admission in Fall 2014:

Doug Bamforth, Cathy Cameron, Gerardo Gutierrez, Arthur Joyce, Scott Ortman and Payson Sheets.

  • Biological Anthropology: The department offers training in primate and human anatomy and evolution, primate behavior and ecology, human variation and ecology, and nutritional anthropology. Faculty research interests include the following: primate health and disease ecology, general ecology, and conservation biology (with research sites in Madagascar and Vietnam); primate evolution (with research sites in Wyoming and Vietnam); early hominid paleoecology (with study areas throughout Africa); human reproductive and nutritional ecology (with research sites in Colombia and Brazil); skeletal biology of Medieval Nubians; and biogeochemical techniques for studying the diets and habitats of modern and fossil fauna. Please note that we do not train students specifically in forensics.

The following faculty members will be accepting new graduate students for admission in Fall 2014:

Robin Bernstein, Bert Covert, and Michelle Sauther.

  • Cultural Anthropology: Among the topical interests of the cultural anthropology faculty are gender and sexuality, culture and power, modernity and consumption, tourism and popular culture, religion and ritual, matrilineal societies, human ecology, pastoralism, conservation and local peoples, nationalism and ethnic identity, racial constructs, post-colonialism, and history and memory. Areas of regional expertise in the department include Latin America and the Caribbean, Native America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, East Africa, Polynesia, and Eastern Europe, as well as their respective diasporas around the world.

The following faculty members will be accepting new graduate students for admission in Fall 2014:

Carla Jones,Terry McCabe, Carole McGranahan, and Jen Shannon.