Ph.D. in Anthropology

The doctoral (Ph.D.) degree in anthropology at Brandeis is designed to train students as professional anthropologists and archaeologists both within and outside the academy. Intensive training for independent research is stressed, with particular emphasis on comparative studies, theoretical grounding and ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork.  Doctoral admissions are limited to students currently or previously enrolled in the Brandeis anthropology master's program and related master's programs.

Faculty interests include the study of complex societies, comparative methods, economic anthropology and development, gender studies, semiotic systems, global and transnational processes, linguistic anthropology, the emerging cultures of cyberspace, medical anthropology, psychological anthropology and religion and ritual. Geographic strengths include Latin America, North America, Africa, East Asia and South Asia. Graduate study in archaeology concentrates on the development of complex societies, emphasizing Mesoamerica.   

Doctoral research in anthropology at Brandeis prepares students for work in a variety of fields, including those of academia, development, nongovernmental organizations and business. Graduates of our program have gone on to become university professors, to direct nonprofit organizations and to work as consultants, advisers and researchers. 

Why Earn a Ph.D. in Anthropology?

Apart from intellectual curiosity and gratification, there are some practical reasons to seek a Ph.D. degree:

  • Academic careers: The doctoral degree is required for full-time, ongoing academic employment in a college or university.
  • Nonacademic careers: In many other professions, a Ph.D. enables entry into the most exciting, secure and well-paid positions.
  • Material benefits: Having a Ph.D. enhances one's qualifications and pay in most public and private organizations.
  • Transferable skills: The emphasis on research and writing will give you skills that are critical for every career path.

Why Brandeis?

While it is possible to earn a Ph.D. at many fine institutions, there are several compelling reasons why you should consider studying at Brandeis:

  • First-class training: The anthropology doctoral program is highly selective and offers exceptional training in sociocultural, linguistic and/or archaeological anthropology. At the same time, it promotes critical thinking, research and writing skills.
  • Dedicated mentoring: Brandeis is a small research university with an emphasis on small classes and genuine mentorship; each student has the opportunity to work closely with one or more distinguished scholars.  
  • Scholarships: In applying to the Ph.D. program, students are automatically considered for departmental fellowships, which include full-tuition remission plus a living stipend for five years. Each year, most or all accepted candidates receive these fellowships. Brandeis and departmental fellowship competitions are open to doctoral students and can provide support for predissertation research, language study and professional development. In addition, the department trains and mentors in the process of applying for external dissertation funding. 
  • Intellectual community: The anthropology department provides a rich curriculum of more than 40 courses open to graduate students. Close ties with other departments on campus as well as the Heller School for Social Policy and Management enhance the range of courses and contacts available to students. In addition, students may cross-register at Boston University, Boston College, Tufts University, Wellesley College or the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies. Brandeis is also a participating member of the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology, which draws faculty and students from area universities and institutions for intensive courses in the analysis of lithic, ceramic, metal and biological materials. The department is also a founding member of the Greater Boston Anthropology Consortium, which includes anthropology departments at Tufts, Wellesley, Clark, Wheaton and Olin College, and which sponsors roundtables, distinguished lectures and a student conference each year. 
  • Career support: Departmental workshops and practice job interviews and job talks, as well as mentoring by the adviser and committee, help candidates negotiate the process of finding an academic position. The career services office at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers centralized career resources dedicated to all GSAS students. We assist doctoral students with career decision-making and planning through individual appointments, workshops, Web resources and employer recruiting.
  • Library resources: Doctoral students can avail themselves of the strong collections at Goldfarb Library on campus as well as collections at major libraries in Greater Boston through the Boston Library Consortium. Graduate students also have full access to many nearby manuscript repositories.
  • Boston and Waltham: Brandeis students partake of the rich intellectual and cultural environment of the Boston area — from a plethora of events at area universities to the array of museums and other institutions in metropolitan Boston. The department also maintains close contacts with diverse organizations and groups in Waltham and Greater Boston, allowing for rich fieldwork opportunities.

The Ph.D. Curriculum

The doctoral program's curriculum allows students to organize a program of study around their particular anthropological interests. At the same time, the program is structured so that a broad familiarity with the anthropological discipline is achieved.

Students take two foundational courses — History of Anthropological Thought (ANTH 201a) and Contemporary Anthropological Theory (ANTH 203b) — in the first two years of study. These courses emphasize epistemological issues in anthropological research and ground these issues in the history of the discipline and in contemporary anthropological debates.

Designing Ethnographic Research (ANTH 202b) is also required, which helps students define their research questions, construct a viable methodology and write a successful grant proposal. The remainder of a student's course program is organized around his or her particular interests, with the guidance and approval of the student's advisory committee.