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9 place StudyQA ranking:3817 Duration:5 years

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The Department of Anthropology prepares students for effective, knowledgeable teaching and for impactful and creative research in sociocultural anthropology, enabling them to bring anthropological concepts, findings, and investigative approaches to bear both on cross-disciplinary scholarship and on public understanding and public policy. The Doctor of Philosophy in anthropology is the final degree in the graduate program.


In September of their first year, each student is assigned an adviser whose special field complements interests expressed in the student’s application. In coordination with the director of graduate studies (DGS), the student works out a plan of study that is reviewed at least twice that year. During the second year, each student convenes a committee of two or three department advisers (designating one of them "committee chair") with whom the student will work in preparation for the second-year general examination.  For first-year students, plans of study must include enrollment in the Proseminar in Anthropology (ANT 501-502)—a sequence that provides the basis for the first-year general examination—and the Coseminar (ANT 541), a fall-term course whose theme and instructor change each year.  For second-year students, the only specifically required course is the Coseminar. Each semester, both first- and second-year students take a minimum of three courses, including two department courses and one elective.


The candidate is required to demonstrate competence in one foreign language of anthropological scholarship. Students are expected to fulfill this requirement early in the fall of their first year of study. Satisfaction of the language requirement is a prerequisite for the second-year general examination.

Pre-Generals Requirements(s):

The first-year general examination, taken in May of the first year, is a comprehensive assessment of students' grasp of the foundations of social/cultural anthropology, organized around, but not limited to, readings in ANT 501-502.

General Exam:

The second-year general examination is a key precondition for advancement to continued candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The written component consists of three essays and bibliographies relating to theoretical/topical and area fields of knowledge developed by students in consultation with their committees. Essays are limited to 4000 words each (approx. 14-15 pages, double spaced, normal font size). The first essay together with its selectively annotated bibliography is due on the January deadline for submission of take-home exercises (normally, the end of the third week of that month). The two remaining essays together with their selectively annotated bibliographies are due at the end of the first week of spring semester Reading Period (normally early May).

The oral component of the second-year general examination is a discussion of the written essays among the student and the student's committee. (If a student did not select a third committee member earlier in the year the DGS will, in consultation with the student and committee, appoint one faculty member to serve ad hoc as an examiner). 

Completion of all coursework from previous semesters and completion of the language requirement are prerequisites to taking the second-year general examination. Note that second-year students are expected to take courses during the semester when their general examination is held. Assigned work for those courses must be completed by the end of the semester (usually after their second-year examination) for students to be eligible for summer funding.

Qualifying for the M.A.:

The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after successfully passing all parts of the second-year general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that the following requirements are met: successful completion of all coursework through two years of study, completion of the language requirement, and passing the second-year general examination.


All graduate students are expected to assist in teaching at least one undergraduate course any time during their residence at Princeton after completing the first-year program, unless there is no opportunity to do so. Teaching is considered to be an important part of graduate education.

Post-Generals Requirement(s):

Each student makes a presentation of his or her proposal for dissertation fieldwork (doctoral research) to department faculty and students. The proposal is first submitted in writing to the student's committee for assessment; after approval, it is presented orally for discussion with graduate program faculty and students. The department proposal presentations are generally completed no later than the end of the fall term of the third year and are usually based on the student's dissertation research grant applications. While many students can accomplish dissertation fieldwork using their university fellowship, the department strongly encourages students to apply for external research funding as an important professionalizing experience, as a way to gain the extra time and flexibility that sociocultural anthropologists often need to meet fieldwork's travel and language fluency demands, and to enable banking one year of University fellowship support for use during post-fieldwork write-up.

Dissertation and FPO:

Students who have passed the second-year general examination are eligible to submit a dissertation based on original research. This research is supervised by the student's committee (normally two advisers, designated as dissertation “readers”, one of whom serves as chair). Departmental acceptance of the dissertation (achieved once the student's two dissertation readers have both approved a revised draft) qualifies the candidate for the final public oral (FPO) examination. This examination is based on the dissertation but extends beyond it to matters of the discipline as a whole and confirms the candidate’s readiness for a career in the profession. The FPO may be held anytime during the academic year, based on a departmental request to the Graduate School one month prior to the proposed examination date. Two additional faculty are appointed (in consultation with the student) as dissertation "examiners" for FPO purposes. Subject to approval by the department and the Graduate School, one of these may be a relevant specialist of the student's choosing from outside Princeton. Of the student's two dissertation readers and  two examiners, at least three must be present in person at the FPO to respond to the student's presentation, comment on the dissertation text, and pose questions. In order to defend in May of any year, a candidate must submit a complete dissertation draft by February 15 to both of his or her two main advisers (i.e., to both dissertation "readers").

  • Application Fee: $90
  • Statement of Academic Purpose
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Transcripts
  • Fall Semester Grades
  • Prerequisite Tests
  • English Language Tests
  • GRE : General test

Additional Departmental Requirements: 

  • Sample of written work 20-25 pages maximum. Entering students are expected to have had undergraduate training in general anthropology, though this need not be equivalent to a full undergraduate major.

For Ph.D. candidates, tuition and fees during a student’s regular period of enrollment are provided in full from a student’s graduate student financial support, in the form of tuition support from fellowships, assistantships, or external sources.

The annual stipend amount provided to Ph.D. candidates during their regular enrollment is intended to support a single graduate student based on estimated costs. Master’s students or students with spouses and/or dependents may require additional resources to support their living expenses 

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