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The CU Boulder Anthropology Department trains students in three of the four subdisciplines of Anthropology:

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, archaeology and language, lithic and ceramic analyses, remote sensing, disasters in ancient and modern times, and geophysical applications in archeology. Find out more here

The department offers training in several different aspects of ecology: general ecology, early hominin paleoecology, nutritional, community, and evolutionary ecology. Our research foci also include anthropogenic and climatic effects on primate behavior and biology; conservation biology; primate evolution; feeding biology of humans and non-human primates; biogeochemical techniques for studying the diets and habitats of modern and fossil fauna; life history; endocrinology; growth and development; and maternal and infant health. Please note that we do not train students specifically in forensics. Find out more here

Among the topical interests of the cultural anthropology faculty are gender and sexuality, culture and power, modernity and consumption, kinship and relatedness, tourism and popular culture, medical anthropology, science and technology studies, human and political ecology, pastoralism, conservation and sustainability, museums, semiotics, concepts of “care,” nationalism and ethnic identity, racial constructs, post-colonialism, refugees and citizenship, and history and memory. Areas of regional expertise in the department include Latin America and the Caribbean, Native America, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, East Africa, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Papua New Guinea, as well as their respective diasporas around the world. Find out more here

We receive approximately 100 applications each year. Our target for each entering class is approximately 6 (two 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 15 applicants per year. Although we train students at the MA level to take jobs in their fields, the standards we apply to all PhD applicants have to do with their potential to carry out research of the quality we would expect in doctoral-level research.

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. 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 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.

Financial support for our PhD students primarily takes the form of teaching assistantships (TAs), which provide both a stipend and tuition remission. We also have limited fellowship money for PhD admits. There are additional funds available through university-wide competitions, but we nominate only one incoming PhD student for these competitions. PhD students will be given priority for all funding.  There is no guarantee of funding for MA students.

Anthropology Graduate Application Requirements & Deadlines

**Fall 2020 admissions is now closed**
**The application cycle for Fall 2021 admission will open in July 2020**

The Graduate Program in Anthropology changed in 2018 to accept direct admission to our PhD program, with or without an MA in Anthropology. We have posted a brief outline of our curriculum here.

Admissions Requirements:

The Anthropology Department offers a doctoral degree in archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology as well as a terminal master’s degree in archaeology and cultural anthropology. Applicants must specify if they are applying to the doctoral or master’s programs. Applicants to the doctoral program in archaeology and cultural anthropology will also be considered for the terminal master’s degree.

A master’s degree is not required for admission to the doctoral program.

Transfer of Credits:

PhD applicants with a master's degree in a closely related discipline may be able to transfer some credits, but should expect to fulfill all the core requirements of our graduate program.

Research Experience:

We strongly encourage applicants who have previous research experience. For archaeology applicants, this includes fieldwork.

Applicants must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  2. Have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.00.
  3. Complete the University of Colorado Graduate School Online Application
  4. Submit one transcript from each college or university attended. Official transcripts are not required at this stage, only if you are admitted. More details here
  5. List three references and their email addresses on your application. All three reference letters must be received by the deadline or your application will be disqualified. It is your responsibility to monitor the progress of your application through your account in the portal to ensure that your reference letters are submitted prior to the deadline.
  6. Pay a nonrefundable application fee to the University of Colorado.
  7. Upload a research statement with your application. The research statement should identify the faculty members you want to work with and how your project fits into the research interests and expertise of the department.  It should outline a research problem or project, and the approach that you will take to that problem/project.
  8. The cultural anthropology and archaeology graduate programs require a writing sample from all applicants. The writing sample should be no longer than 20 pages, such as a term paper or an excerpt from a BA or MA thesis. For applicants to the biological anthropology program, writing samples are optional, but helpful.

Financial Support:

Financial support and tuition waivers may be offered to outstanding PhD students in the form of teaching or research assistantships. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for national fellowships (NSF, SSRC, FLAS, etc.). The majority of departmental funding is allocated to the doctoral program.  There is no guarantee of funding for MA students.

Fall 2021 Domestic Application Deadline:
10:00pm MST December 15, 2020
Fall 2021 International Application Deadline:
10:00pm MST December 1, 2020

Please note all deadlines are 10:00pm MST (midnight EST).

**The application cycle for Fall 2021 admission will open in July 2020**

Your Research Statement (Personal Statement) should be tailored to the CU Department of Anthropology Graduate Program. The research statement should identify the faculty members you want to work with and how your project fits into the research interests and expertise of the department.  It should outline a research problem or project, and the approach that you will take, to that problem/project. Please be concise: one or two pages at most. If you need assistance in preparing a good Research Statement (Personal Statement), there are many options on the Internet. We have found the guidelines of the Berkeley Career Center to be particularly helpful.

List three references and their email addresses on your application. All three letters must be received by the deadline or your application will be disqualified. It is your responsibility to monitor the progress of your application through your account on the application portal.

Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology applicants should upload a writing sample no longer than 20 pages such as a term paper or an excerpt from a BA or MA thesis. Writing samples are optional, but helpful, with Biological Anthropology applications.

By applying to our PhD program, you will automatically be evaluated for one of our fellowships and may be considered for other funds to support your graduate education. The amount will vary according to residency status and academic promise of the candidate. Students are encouraged to apply for national fellowships such as NSF, Fulbright, SSRC, and Wenner Gren. PhD students will be given priority for all funding. There is no guarantee of funding for MA students.

English proficiency may be demonstrated through any of the following:
  • TOEFL® PBT: minimum test score of 600 points
  • TOEFL iBT®: minimum test score of 100 points
  • IELTS Academic Module: minimum score of 7.0
  • Duolingo: minimum test score of 100 points

You must apply to each program separately and must meet the application requirements and admissions standards for each program. Applicants are urged to have a conversation with the Anthropology faculty member who is most closely aligned with their interests prior to submitting an application. It is important that students clearly indicate their interest in the dual degree program in their Personal Statement to the Department of Anthropology. For more information, see the Dual MA/MBA page.

  1. Review the Application Information section above.
  2. Contact the faculty you might want to work with (optional but encouraged).
  3. Prepare your research statement (personal statement) and permission from references.
  4. Complete the University of Colorado Graduate School Online Application.
  5. Check the status of your application regularly to make sure that all of your supplementary material has been received by the deadline.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all letters of recommendation and required materials are received in Graduate Admissions by the deadline. Incomplete applications cannot be considered beyond this closing date. Applicants should monitor the status of materials through their account on the application portal.

By applying to our PhD program, you will automatically be evaluated for one of our fellowships and may be considered for other funds to support graduate education. Doctoral students will be given priority for all available funding.  Note that there is no guarantee of funding for MA students. Anthropology Department fellowships are competitive and based strictly on academic performance. Because they are limited, we encourage you to visit CU Financial Aid and apply for additional financial aid that you anticipate you might need.

For more information please contact: