The Department of Ethnic Studies admits graduate students every other year. Our next application cycle will be for students starting in academic year 2024-2025. The application for 2024-2025 will open in July of 2023; deadlines are below.

Deadlines for the academic year 2024-2025:

  • December 1, 2023, 10 p.m. MST (international)
  • December 15, 2023, 10 p.m. MST (U.S.)

The Critical Ethnic Studies PhD program provides flexibility for students to pursue their individual research interests, while ensuring that they are grounded in both foundational and cutting-edge theories in ethnic studies.

Our department is dedicated to interrogating the relational nature of race and its attendant categories, particularly gender and sexuality, using frameworks that account for the increasingly global ways that these categories are constructed, resisted, and inhabited. However, we believe that rigorous critical as well as relational analyses can only grow out of deep groundings in the particular areas of Africana, Asian American, Chicanx/Latinx, and Native American & Indigenous studies. 

Methodologically and theoretically, our faculty members possess training and expertise in interdisciplinary fields including ethnic studies; women, gender, and sexuality studies; environmental studies; critical sports studies; critical and intersectional criminology; cultural studies; literary and film studies; border studies; and American studies; as well as traditional disciplines including anthropology, history, education, religious studies, and sociology.

We seek students who are motivated to map out individualized courses of study and are driven to pursue projects that advance the field of ethnic studies through demonstrated abilities in comprehending, creating, and applying theories, conducting original research, analyzing data, and writing effectively. Applicants must hold a master's degree in ethnic studies or a related field (examples include areas such as American studies, sociology, literature, or history) by the time of their enrollment. Financial support will be available in the form of teaching assistantships and fellowships for especially qualified applicants.

Current Students

Please see the list of our current doctoral students for examples of the types of work that students are pursuing in our program.


A master's degree in ethnic studies or a related field is required for all applicants. Research experience is highly recommended, and writing skills (as demonstrated in the statement of purpose and writing sample) are highly valued. See this useful article for advice on applying to PhD programs. 

Applicants must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university and a master's degree in ethnic studies or an affiliate field from an accredited college or university, as above.
  2. Complete the University of Colorado Graduate School Online Application.
  3. Pay a nonrefundable application fee of $60 (either by credit card with your online application or with a check made payable to University of Colorado). The fee for international applicants is $80.
  4. Submit one unofficial transcript from each college or university attended. Official transcripts will be required after admission.
  5. GRE – submission of GRE scores is optional for admission considerations into the PhD program, however, if you wish to be considered for certain merit-based fellowships through the Graduate School, you must submit GRE scores with your application.
  6. Submit three letters of recommendation.
  7. Submit a scholarly writing sample (not to exceed 30 double-spaced pages).
  8. Submit a statement of purpose (not to exceed 2000 words) describing your past research or scholarly activities, teaching and community engagement in ethnic studies or affiliated fields, and explaining your current research interests and how they align with the faculty expertise and mission of our department.

Financial Support

Financial support in the form of teaching assistantships and/or fellowships may be offered to highly qualified applicants. Exceptional applicants will be nominated for competitive university-wide fellowships. Students are also encouraged to apply for national fellowships.

Please see the application criteria for the following national fellowship competitions: