Applying to a PhD Program | Department of Anthropology

Applying to a PhD Program

While our main goal is to prepare students for employment outside academia, they will also be well qualified for transfer to a doctoral program. We have a successful record of having students accepted to highly ranked graduate programs. The Anthropology Students Association usually offers a workshop on applying to graduate programs once a year. Check with Melissa Tanner for the date.

The first step in applying to Ph.D. programs is identifying your areas of interest. Is there a particular part of the world you want to study? Are you interested in the environment? Medical anthropology? Community development?

Then, you should find a number of programs where faculty members specialize in your areas of interest. A key part of getting a Ph.D. is developing a good relationship with a professor who can be your mentor and adviser. So you should carefully research who the experts are in the areas that interest you. You should also try to find out what kind of reputation these people have as mentors. If possible, visit their schools and meet with them to find out if the two of you seem to have a good chemistry. The McNair Program, for instance, offers funding for trips to graduate schools.

Some ways to find out information about anthropology departments and the interests of their faculty:

  • AAA Guide to Departments - available in the department of anthropology resource room
  • Websites of particular anthropology departments and home pages of faculty members
  • The Society for Applied Anthropology has a list of applied anthropology programs; be aware that the list does not separate departments that offer Ph.D. programs from departments that offer only a master's degree
  • The Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs (COPAA) offers a list of applied anthropology programs and also has a resource link for students
  • Ask your professors

Filling out the applications to graduate school is a time-consuming process, so plan ahead for it. In your essay, be as specific as possible about your research interests. Identify specific faculty members you would like to work with, and explain why.

Your letters of recommendation are critical. They will be most persuasive if they are written by faculty members who know you as a person. So it is in your best interest to develop mentoring relationships with several faculty members at UNT, starting as early as possible.

For general information on applying to graduate school, there are many books and websites you can consult. Here is one website. It is written for undergraduates applying to Ph.D. programs but the advice is equally sound for master's students: Phil Agre's Advice for Undergraduates Considering Graduate School.

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