The Department of Anthropology offers coursework and training leading to the PhD in two principal fields of specialization—archaeology and social anthropology—that have their own programs of study and examination procedures. The department also offers an AM in medical anthropology.

Archaeology

Degree offered: PhD

The graduate program in archaeology provides informed, critical examinations of core issues; comprehensive training in principal methods and theories of anthropologically-oriented archaeology; and direction and support for PhD candidates preparing for research and teaching positions in a wide variety of domains of archaeological practice.

Students choose a primary area of specialization:

  • Archaeology of complex societies
  • Archaeology of ethnicities and languages
  • Archaeology, art, and religion
  • Archaeology of human evolution
  • Environmental archaeology/bioarchaeology

In addition, they acquire a basic understanding of the archaeology of complex societies in both the Old and New Worlds as well as general knowledge of those aspects of ethnography, ethnology, and biological anthropology that have particular relevance to their areas of interest.

Social Anthropology

Degree offered: PhD

The graduate program in social anthropology focuses on issues of globalism, ethnic violence, gender studies, “new” nationalisms, diaspora formation, transnationalism and local experience, medical anthropology, and the emerging cultures of cyberspace. Our mission is to develop new methodologies for an anthropology that tracks cultural developments in a global economy increasingly defined by the Internet and related technologies. Our graduate students (drawn from over 30 countries) expect to work in the worlds of academe, government, NGOs, law, medicine, and business.

Knowing that material culture is a key element in the study of globalism and the new world economy, we work closely with staff from Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, who share our interests in redefining the study of popular culture, art, and the origins of industrial society. Research at the museum also makes it possible for us to maintain close ties to our departmental colleagues in the archaeology program.

Medical Anthropology

Degree offered: AM

The Department of Anthropology offers an MA in anthropology, with a specialty in medical anthropology. The program is intended to provide a basic education in medical anthropology for physicians or other health professions with clinical work experience and prior graduate work, and in exceptional cases, we may consider undergraduates who have superior backgrounds and are committed to careers in medicine or other health professions. The program can be completed in an intensive 12 months.

The Joint PhD in Archaeology and Social Anthropology

In exceptional circumstances, the department may admit students who have a strong interest in pursuing graduate studies that combine archaeology and social anthropology. For more information, contact the graduate program administrator.

Admissions Requirements

Previous concentration in anthropology is not required, but some substantive engagement with the subject is expected of applicants. In addition to academic qualifications, admission decisions are based on the best possible fit between a student’s prospective research area and the current areas of research and teaching of department faculty. Students are expected to complete the program in 6 years.

The graduate program social anthropology highly recommends that PhD applicants submit a writing sample (e.g., term paper or thesis).

Prospective students are urged to apply for outside fellowships that offer tuition and stipend support during graduate school. These include the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, Ford Foundation Fellowships, and the US Department of Education’s Jacob K. Javits Fellowships. Application deadlines for these fellowships are in the fall, well before Harvard’s admissions deadline. Eligible applicants are encouraged to investigate these funding opportunities early in the application season.

Additional information about admissions requirements are available from the Department of Anthropology and specific program requirements are detailed in the GSAS Student Handbook.

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Anthropology

Anthropology Faculty