University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Anthropology offers a PhD in Anthropology, with concentrations in Sociocultural Anthropology, Archaeology, or Biological Anthropology. The PhD in Anthropology is concerned with diverse analytic and substantive problems in the contemporary world and includes research sites across globally. For example, the PhD in Anthropology might focus on issues of political economy and finance; the dynamics of race, gender, and sexuality; psychological and medical anthropology; the study of religion and secularism; genomics and the anthropology of science and reason; folklore theory; linguistic anthropology; long term human-environment relations; cultural politics of food, energy, and space; aging and the life course; historic archaeology, archaeology of the contemporary; bioarchaeology, biocultural approaches in human biology; human evolution, cultural politics of identity, space, and the body; agrarian micropolitics; or urban anthropology.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Admission to the Program

Applicants for the Anthropology PhD are required to specify the concentration to which they wish to apply: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, or Sociocultural Anthropology. Applicants are required to name at least two faculty with whom they wish to work.

Applicants must hold a Bachelor of Arts degree or its equivalent from an institution of acceptable standing and may hold a Master of Arts in Anthropology or another field. Previous concentration in anthropology is not required. The department does not accept applicants interested in the Master of Arts in Anthropology degree only.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement to PhD Candidacy

Total time to advancement is expected to be three years.

sTep I

The students begin to narrow down their interests to particular topical and geographical fields of specialization, a process that normally takes one year. During this time students are expected to take required core course per their programmatic speciality. 


Students attend seminars, prepare three field statements in their specializations, satisfy their language requirement, and prepare for their PhD oral qualifying examination. This step lasts one to two years. With the successful passing of the orals, students are advanced to candidacy for the PhD degree.

Normative Time in Candidacy

Step III

Students undertake research for the PhD dissertation under a three-person committee in charge of their research and dissertation. Students do original field, laboratory, or library research, which generally takes a minimum of one year. The students then write their dissertations based on the results of this research. On completion of the research and approval of the dissertation by the committee, the students are awarded the doctorate. When registered during this phase, students normally enroll in ANTHRO 299 with their dissertation chair.  

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is 6 years.

Time to Advancement

Archaeology Concentration
ANTHRO 229AArchaeological Research Strategies: History of Theory in Anthropological Archaeology4
ANTHRO 229BArchaeological Research Strategies: Research Design4
ANTHRO 290Survey of Anthropological Research (every semester until advanced to candidacy)1
ANTHRO 291Professional Development in Anthropological Archaeology1
ANTHRO Methods and Area courses, per approved study list
ANTHRO Electives, per approved study list
Biological Anthropology Concentration
Anthropology Theory Seminar: Select one from the following:
Archaeological Research Strategies: History of Theory in Anthropological Archaeology [4]
Fundamentals of Anthropological Theory [5]
Fundamentals of Anthropological Theory [5]
ANTHRO 290Survey of Anthropological Research1
ANTHRO Methods Course, per approved study list
ANTHRO Electives, per approved study list
Sociocultural Concentration
ANTHRO 240AFundamentals of Anthropological Theory5
ANTHRO 240BFundamentals of Anthropological Theory5
ANTHRO 290Survey of Anthropological Research1
ANTHRO Electives per approved study list
Foreign Language(s)

In addition to English, the program requires at least one other language. This language may be a language of international scholarship, a literary language, or a field language. The required language must be directly relevant to the research.

Field Statements

Field statements are bibliographical essays on areas of specialization that are to address substantive areas of anthropology. Each field statement is a critical summary and analysis of issues and debates in a field of knowledge. Students will write three field statements. Faculty sponsors will work with the student in the preparation of these field statements. All three faculty sponsors for archaeology field statements must be from within the Department of Anthropology; biological anthropology and sociocultural anthropology students may work with one faculty member from outside the department. Students normally enroll in a section of ANTHRO 298 for each statement with the professor supervising that statement.


The dissertation prospectus is an intellectual justification and research plan for the dissertation. Sociocultural students must get their prospectus signed by all three dissertation committee members and file it at the end of their third year before the PhD Oral Qualifying Examination.  The dissertation prospectus should be between 8-10 pages.  Archaeology and Biological Anthropology students must submit their dissertation prospectus before the PhD Oral Qualifying Examination, and it should be between 8-10 pages.

Time in Candidacy

Fieldwork and Dissertation Writing

After advancing to candidacy for the PhD, students are expected to conduct dissertation fieldwork, typically for about a year. Students then return to analyze their findings and begin writing their dissertations. Some use this period to gain more experience in teaching as well. 

Dissertation Presentation/Finishing Talk

There is no formal defense of the completed dissertation. Archaeology students are required to publicly present a talk about their dissertation research in their final year, normally as part of the Wednesday brown bag lunch lecture series of the Archaeological Research Facility.

Required Professional Development


All Archaeology graduate students are expected to attend Wednesday brown bag lunches held at 2251 College Avenue, organized by faculty affiliates of the Archaeological Research Facility, and they may regularly present research talks there.


All Anthropology graduate students not yet advanced to candidacy are required to enroll in ANTHRO 290, each semester until they are advanced to PhD candidacy. All in-residence archaeology students are expected to register in ANTHRO 291 to participate in the Archaeology Outreach Program, which includes school and community group talks and other activities. 

Research Resources

The department administers three endowments, the Lowie and the Olson Funds, which are designed for student research support, and the Brandes Fund, for ethnographic research. Graduate students are eligible to apply for these funds for research and conference travel and other related expenses over the course of their graduate career. Please consult the Graduate Programs page on the departmental website for further details.

Teaching Opportunities

The department strives to provide every student with an opportunity to gain teaching experience. Every year, students work as teaching assistants responsible for small discussion or laboratory sections (graduate student instructors, or GSIs) and serve as readers assisting with grading but not conducting independent teaching. Students who have advanced to candidacy and have taught at least two, and ideally four, semesters, may be appointed to teach Anthro R5B: Reading and Composition in Anthropology on topics of their own design with approved content. In preparation for teaching, each fall the department offers a pedagogy seminar Anthro 375, required before or concurrent with the first GSI assignment, on teaching in anthropology.



Contact Information

Department of Anthropology

232 Anthropology and Art Practice Building

Phone: 510-642-3391

Fax: 510-643-8557

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Department Chair

Sabrina Agarwal

232 Anthropology & Art Practice Bldg

Faculty Graduate Advisor, Archaeology

Junko Habu

232 Anthropology & Art Practice Bldg

Faculty Graduate Advisor, Sociocultural Anthropology

Stefania Pandolfo

232 Anthropology & Art Practice Bldg

Equity Advisor

Charles Briggs

232 Anthropology and Art Practice Bldg

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Tabea Mastel

213 Anthropology & Art Practice Building

Phone: 510-642-3406

GSI Affairs Advisor

Cori Hayden

232 Anthropology & Art Practice Bldg

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