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.

Areas of Study


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/archaeological science

In addition, all students acquire a basic understanding of the archaeology of both less and more 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. The extensive archaeology and ethnology collections of the Peabody Museum provide an important resource for both research and teaching.

Social Anthropology

Degree offered: PhD

The graduate program in social anthropology focuses on issues of globalism, ethnic politics, gender studies, “new” nationalisms, diaspora formation, transnationalism and local experience, medical anthropology, linguistic and semiotic anthropology, and media. 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 AM 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.

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 7 years.

PhD applicants should submit a writing sample (e.g., term paper or thesis). The GRE is not required.

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

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Anthropology

Anthropology Faculty