Notes on Applying

In addition to the required admissions forms, transcript(s), curriculum vita/resumés, optional test results, and letters of recommendation, applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose and a writing sample. Below are some suggestions for their preparation. 

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is an intellectual, professional and personal statement addressing your motivations for graduate study and your present thoughts about the direction of your academic training and research. Since this is one of the most important parts of the application, considerable care should be taken in crafting it. The statement need not exceed four double-spaced pages.

Statements by applicants to the doctoral program should articulate one or more scholarly problems in the discipline and suggest a course of study and a research project that should allow the applicant to make a significant original contribution to scholarship within anthropology.

In preparing to write the statement of purpose, it is a good idea to review major journals in the field and significant foundational and recent books in the subfields you are most interested in. What intellectual problems and theoretical approaches do you find most compelling? Where do you believe you might make the greatest contribution? You may wish to discuss, in brief, relevant intellectual training, academic accomplishments and research experiences, and indicate the specialized skills (including language training), literature or subfields you hope to master during graduate study. It is not necessary to specify a precise ethnographic area or research topic, but it is usually helpful to explain the kind of research you hope to undertake and the skills you will need to conduct that research successfully.

Writing Sample

The writing sample should represent your very best academic work. This does not need to be a piece of anthropological writing; indeed, many strong applicants have worked in other fields before pursuing graduate work in anthropology. The writing sample ideally will demonstrate your capacity for clear expression, close reading, skilled observation, critical thinking and the creative, rigorous interpretation of empirical data.