PhD in Anthropology

Anthropology seeks to understand the nature and origins of human biological variability, cultural diversity, and social formations through systematic exploration, scientific examination and the application of theory to human populations and their artifacts, including their social configurations, past and present.

Although anthropology has historically been most successful in the analysis of small sociocultural systems, its current challenge is to situate the direct objects of study in their global contexts in both space and time. The discipline draws freely on various fields of study in the humanities and in the social and natural sciences, and its diversity today is such that no single central mission earns a wide consensus.

While training in the traditional four subfields of archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology and social/cultural anthropology are offered in the department at Binghamton, students are encouraged to specialize along tracks that cross these sub-disciplinary boundaries.

A central objective of graduate training in anthropology is the ability to develop an original research design and to communicate the research findings in a research paper, thesis or dissertation of publishable quality. All recipients of graduate degrees submit and defend formal, written demonstration of their ability to apply appropriate analysis to an original research project, except for the MS degree for which an oral demonstration of ability is required.

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology is awarded to students who have shown mastery of the general materials of anthropology and a substantial command of the specialized subject matter of one or more of the four subfields, and who have successfully carried out and formally presented research judged to constitute an original contribution to the discipline.

Admission to the Doctoral Program

Students without substantial experience beyond the BA are not normally admitted directly to the PhD program. Although an MA is not required for admission or for the completion of the PhD, most students complete an MA in the course of their doctoral studies, either by submitting a thesis or through the two-paper option (see MA requirements).

Applicants with graduate work at other universities are required to submit GRE aptitude test scores along with their applications, TOEFL where applicable (see MA Program admission requirements).

Course requirements for the Doctoral Degree in Anthropology

  • Minimum credits satisfying master's requirements (subfields, ANTH 501 and 504, and electives): 30
  • Electives (exclusive of ANTH 580, 590, 591, 599, 698, 699, and including no more than 8 credits of ANTH 597, and not more than 8 credits of coursework outside of anthropology) to be chosen with the advice of the student's guidance committee and the written approval of its chair: 26
  • ANTH 699, Dissertation, as required to maintain registration after admission to candidacy.
  • Total minimum credit hours: 56

Students who have completed an MA at another university or in another discipline may request credit for up to 30 credit hours toward the PhD, and they may request the exemption from one or more of the subfield distribution requirements on the basis of previous graduate coursework in the relevant area. Students should address such requests to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Foreign language and research skill

See language requirement for the master's degree. Students having completed an MA at another university that required a language examination may submit evidence of having satisfied this requirement. In some instances, the choice of research area by the student may require demonstration of additional language proficiency (e.g. due to a lack of relevance of the language competence previously demonstrated). Students should seek the advice of the members of their doctoral committee regarding appropriate language and research skills for the pursuit of their individualized programs of study.

Admission to candidacy

To be admitted to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology, a student must have satisfied at least the minimum course credit requirement (at least 56 hours, exclusive of courses graded below B-, with a GPA of 3.5 or better) and language requirements as determined by the student's doctoral committee. In addition, a student must:

  1. pass a written examination covering three literature areas (one of which may be a regional competency examination)
  2. propose a dissertation research project in colloquium before the department
  3. pass an oral examination administered by the guidance committee in which questions address both the written exam and the colloquium
  4. Within six months after admission to candidacy, submit a dissertation prospectus approved by the student's doctoral committee.

Granting the degree

Each doctoral candidate must demonstrate the ability to complete an original research project and submit the findings in a dissertation acceptable to the student's dissertation committee. Upon approval by this committee, the dissertation must be defended in a public defense attended by the candidate's committee, an outside reader appointed by and representing the dean of the Graduate School and any others who wish to attend. A successful defense and submission of the dissertation to the Graduate School complete the requirements for awarding the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology.

Guidelines for Graduate Study in Anthropology

Students are advised to consult the department's Guidelines for Graduate Study for additional information regarding graduate orientation, mentoring, funding, time-to-degree expectations and degree requirements.

Professional Development

Our program’s central objective is to train students in the development of original research design and to communicate findings in publishable papers. Faculty and students develop close working relationships. Independent study is encouraged and closely guided through academic advising.

Our department hosts a summer session class called the Archaeology Field School program, where students have the opportunity to earn credit as well as gain practical field experience. Outings in 2014 included excavation training and scientific analysis techniques at a historic 17th Century estate in New York. Binghamton University also boasts the Public Archaeology Facility, one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country.

The Career Resource Library is available as a tool for students to learn how to use anthropological skills in industry, business, management and health research; how to teach anthropology; careers as independent consultants; ethnographic research; preparing to become an applied anthropologist; and the nature of anthropological fieldwork.

After You Graduate

MA graduates are prepared to be instructors at community colleges or pursue doctoral studies. Recent doctoral graduates are employed in positions at the New York State Department of Health, the National Geographic Society, Museum of International Folk Art, Purdue University and the University of Tennessee.


Fall: January 15 (Funding) / April 15

Spring: October 15

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This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sept. 2019
4 - 5 years
12,921 USD
(Resident); $24,261 (Non-Resident)
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