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Offering coursework and training leading to an AM in medical anthropology and a PhD in archaeology and social anthropology

Fall 2024 Admissions Update

Admissions to the PhD in social anthropology and the AM in medical anthropology have been paused and will not be accepting applications for fall 2024. The PhD in archaeology will be accepting applications.

The Department of Anthropology is one of the world’s leading institutions for anthropological research. Our PhD programs provide in-depth conceptual and methodological training in archaeology and social anthropology, with faculty whose work covers every time period—from the Paleolithic to the present—and every major world area. The department also offers an AM in medical anthropology.

You will have the unique opportunity to work with a world-renowned faculty that has a long tradition of foundational research across nearly every continent. You will have access to a wide range of resources including the Harvard Medical School, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, various area centers such as the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Korea Institute, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Asia Center, and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. You will also have access to extensive archaeological and anthropological collections of the Peabody Museum, an important resource for both research and teaching.

Projects that students have worked on include “Archaeology of the 19th and 20th Century Chinese Labor Migrants,” “Zooarchaeology in Ancient Mesopotamia,” and “Mass Media in Indonesia.” Our PhD graduates are now on the anthropology faculties at some of the top universities in the world. Others have secured positions with Facebook, the World Bank, and various museums.

Additional information on the graduate program is available from the Department of Anthropology, and requirements for the degree are detailed in Policies.

Areas of Study

Archaeology (PhD only) | Medical Anthropology (AM only) | Social Anthropology (PhD only)

Admissions Requirements

Please review the admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program-specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Department of Anthropology.

Academic Background

Previous concentration in anthropology is not required; however, applicants must be able to clearly state their interests in anthropology and demonstrate familiarity with intellectual issues in current anthropological theory and method.

Writing Sample

For PhD applicants, a writing sample is required as part of the application and can be a term paper or thesis no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced) not including bibliography. Do not submit a longer sample with instructions to read a particular section. Applicants should select an example of their best academic writing that demonstrates their capacity for rigorous analysis and independent work. It is not essential that the writing sample be directly related to the topics or areas that you are proposing to study in the future.

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose should demonstrate a geographic cultural region and/or a particular topical or theoretical interest in anthropology. Language skills related to an applicant’s intended area or areas of specialization should be explained in the statement of purpose.

Standardized Tests

GRE General: Not Accepted

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Anthropology

Anthropology Faculty

See list of Anthropology faculty


Degrees Offered


Questions about the Program?

Monique Rivera
Graduate Program Administrator