Ph.D. in Anthropology

The doctoral 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 as well as archaeological fieldwork. 

Ph.D. concentrations include:

  • Archaeology
  • Sociocultural Anthropology (available to Brandeis Master's students and alumni only)

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

Why Brandeis?

While it is possible to earn a Ph.D. at many institutions, there are several compelling reasons to study at Brandeis:

  • First-class training: This highly selective program offers exceptional training in sociocultural or archaeological anthropology. At the same time, while promoting critical thinking and enhancing 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: Doctoral students are automatically considered for departmental fellowships, which include full-tuition remission plus a living stipend for five years. Brandeis and departmental fellowship competitions are open to doctoral students and can provide additional support for pre-dissertation research, language study, and professional development. The department trains students for-- and mentors during-- external funding application processes. 
  • Intellectual community: The anthropology department's 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 on campus. Off campus, students may cross-register at local schools via the Boston Area Graduate Consortium. Additionally, Brandeis is a member of the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology, which enrolls local faculty and students in 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 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. In addition, the career services office at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers centralized career resources dedicated to all GSAS students. They 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. Foundational courses include History of Anthropological Thought (ANTH 201a), Designing Anthropological Research (ANTH 202b), and Contemporary Anthropological Theory (ANTH 203b). These courses emphasize epistemological issues in cross-cultural research and the relationship between scientific and humanistic modes of inquiry. 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. Other requirements for the degree include:

  • Teaching requirement: students are required to serve as teaching fellows as part of their Ph.D. training
  • Qualifying procedure: General examination is taken upon completion of course requirements (usually by the end of the third year of full-time study).
  • Language requirement: A reading knowledge of at least one foreign language must be demonstrated by written examination.
  • Dissertation and defense: The completed dissertation must be successfully defended in an oral examination, before it can be formally accepted. 

More information on these requirements, as well as a comprehensive list of courses of instruction (including those cross-listed in anthropology and courses of related interest) can be found on the Registrar's website.