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Department of Anthropology Doctorate Degree Requirements

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Admission / Transition

Students who apply externally for admission to the doctoral program and have a Masters degree from another program will be admitted directly into the doctoral program. Students who receive their Masters degree from the University of Oregon Department of Anthropology need to submit materials comparable to those of external applicants:

  1. Completed Transition to Doctoral Program form signed by advisor and two exam committee members.  The form is available on the departmental website.
  2. Statement of purpose: This should be~1000 word statement describing the dissertation topic and indicating how, where, and when it will be pursued.
  3. Current curriculum vitae.
  4. Current academic transcript.
  5. Three departmental references using the “Report on Graduate Applicant” forms, one of which must be from the proposed committee chair. The form is here: http://gradschool.uoregon.edu/sites/default/files/reportGradApplicantGS620.pdf.

Admission to the doctoral program is competitive and is decided by the Graduate Committee, generally in the Winter or Spring term of the Academic year prior to Admission.

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Summary of Ph.D. Degree requirements in Anthropology

Transition to PhD program See procedures outlined at the beginning of description of ANTH doctoral program.
PhD Program Archaeology Biological Cultural
comprehensive exam 1 Arch Method & Theory (tailored by student) Area selected by student Social Theory (Core 1 and Core 2 bibliographies)
comprehensive exam 2 Area selected by student Area selected by student Topic and/or geog area selected by student
dissertation prospectus The passing of comprehensive examinations and dissertation prospectus should ideally be completed in 4 terms, but no later than two years after entry into the Ph.D. program. The schedule for the two exams and prospectus will be determined by the student in consultation with his/her exam committee.2 As for Arch and Bio students, except that the first Social Theory comprehensive exam may be taken prior to transition to the doctoral program.
other course requirements 2nd skill, published paper, major research proposal, or language Language, 3 courses in cognate field(s) outside ANTH, published paper, or major funding proposal
Advancement The Director of Graduate Studies will notify the Graduate Coordinator, who will notify the Graduate School
Dissertation Research research and writing of dissertation
Committee Grad School formally appoints dissertation committee/ schedule defense
Ph.D. defense of dissertation

2The advantage of doing the prospectus first is that grant proposals can be submitted while the student is preparing for comprehensive exams. This works well if the student has a good command of the literature and if the dissertation topic is an outgrowth of the Masters research. In other cases, it may be more advantageous to take exams first, especially if the student’s research represents a new research focus.

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Obtaining Doctoral Candidacy

Those admitted into the doctoral program are doctoral students, but they are not yet doctoral candidates. To become a doctoral candidate, a student must:

1.    Form their examination committee
2.    Pass both comprehensive examinations,
3.    Satisfactorily complete and defend a dissertation prospectus, and
4.    Clear all of the coursework and skill or language requirements for the doctorate.

Students should attain candidacy by the end of their second year in the Ph.D. program.

Examination Committee. Upon entering the doctoral program, a student needs to form their examination committee. The examination committee writes and evaluates the comprehensive examinations and evaluates the dissertation prospectus. It consists of three members: the advisor plus two others who are generally faculty in Anthropology, although one may be from another academic department or program. In consultation with their advisor, the student selects the two additional members and secures their consent to serve. The student then submits the list to the Graduate Coordinator, who submits it to the Graduate School.

Comprehensive Examinations. Students of archaeology and biological anthropology develop bibliographies of readings for two exam areas which can be topical, theoretical, or geographic in focus.  Students choose their exam foci, develop synthetic statements about the scope of exam areas, conceptualize questions to direct their readings, and develop the bibliographies in consultation with their advisors and examination committees. The 2 to 3 page-long synthetic statement (~2000 words) defines each of the comprehensive exam areas, justifies or explains the focus or scope of each, and specifies the relationship of the exam areas to the dissertation prospectus. The bibliographies developed for the comprehensive exams should be broader than the specialized research pursued in the dissertation as designed in the prospectus.

Students of cultural anthropology take a theory comprehensive exam and a second comprehensive exam (typically topical and/or geographic in focus). For the theory exam, students take two core theory courses during their first year in the program: ANTH 688 in Fall and ANTH 689 in Winter. Students who have passed both ANTH 688 and ANTH 689 will then be eligible to take the Cultural Theory Comprehensive Exam in the Spring Term of their first year of Fall term of their second year. For the second comprehensive exam students, in consultation with their examination committee, develop a synthetic statement about the scope of the exam area and a bibliography.  The bibliography developed by the student for this one comprehensive exam may overlap with but should also be significantly distinct from the references cited in their prospectus (see below).

For all three subfields, when the comprehensive exam bibliographies are in near-final form, the student calls a meeting of the exam committee for final discussion and approval of the bibliographies and to schedule the dates and times of the exams.  Through the process of writing the synthetic statement and meeting with the committee, the student has an opportunity to describe the boundaries and content of the particular comprehensive exam areas and explain their relationship to each other and to the dissertation research topic in a coherent way.  At the committee meeting, the student orally summarizes the synthetic statement and the exam committee as a whole approves the final version of the exam bibliographies on which the exams will be based.  The synthetic statement and exam bibliographies are included in the student’s official departmental file.  A student preparing for the comprehensive examinations is typically invited to submit questions for the exam. This procedure serves the purpose of providing the examination committee with a concrete indication of the student’s understanding of the exam as intellectual terrain.  Where it is inadequate, this can be corrected by the examination committee.  If the questions are good, they will inform the writing of the exam.

Archaeology and biological anthropology students have the option of taking their comprehensive examinations as: 1) two four-hour sit-down exams, 2) as two take-home exams, or 3) as one of each. Whichever option is chosen must be made in consultation with their Advisor and be approved by all members of their examination committee. Students who chose take home exams will have 10 days to write them, and the final result will be a 15-20 page paper (single-spaced, 12 point font, 1-inch margins). Regardless of how the exams are done, they are read by the examination committee, which then confers as to whether or not the student has passed.

Cultural anthropology students will have the option to take their theory comprehensive exam either as a five-day take-home written exam or as a four-hour sit-down exam. The process of preparing for the four-hour sit-down exam for cultural anthropology students is the same as the process for archaeology and biological anthropology students, and the student’s exam committee will grade this exam. In Spring Term of their first year, students will meet with their individual advisors, develop a reading list, and enroll in a 1-2 credit reading course with their advisor. Students should ideally take their theory comprehensive at the end of the Spring Term of their first year or during the Fall Term of their second year. At the end of Spring Term in their first year, the student will take the comprehensive exam. The comprehensive exam will be read by the advisor and a second committee member. Students are expected to identify a second committee member by the end of Winter Term of their first year. The student will have five days in which to write the exam. The three possible evaluations are: High Pass, Pass, and No Pass or Fail.

Students should make sure their answers clearly respond to the questions, and present coherently developed arguments and detailed treatments of the texts chosen to discuss as evidence.  Students may introduce texts that do not appear on the comprehensive exam bibliographies, but the questions will give the student ample opportunity to discuss the works on the official bibliography for the exam.  Quality of writing is a factor in the evaluation of exams, but the exam committee will not penalize students for superficial blunders that sometimes occur, if the exams are taken in the four-hour sit-down format. Take home exams will, of course, be held to a higher standard in this regard.

Dissertation Prospectus. The student will write a dissertation prospectus and formally present it before a special meeting of the examination committee. The prospectus should include: a) definition of the research problem, b) a literature review placing the research problem in broader context, c) a statement of the significance of research, d) a detailed description of methods to be used in data collection and analysis, and e) a list of references cited. Although format may vary, the dissertation prospectus should embody the academic rigor and detail of a National Science Foundation (NSF) doctoral dissertation improvement grant proposal. The prospectus bibliography should be extensive and similar in magnitude to the comprehensive exam bibliographies. As indicated above, the references cited in the prospectus may overlap to a degree, but should also be significantly distinct from either of the comprehensive exam areas. The oral presentation should not be scheduled until the dissertation prospectus is acceptable to the examination/prospectus committee. The purpose of the oral presentation is to allow the committee as a whole to collectively discuss the student’s research prospectus with a view toward facilitating implementation of the research project.

Ideally, the prospectus is completed in time to use it as the basis for students to apply for research funding. Such proposals grow out of the dissertation prospectus, which functions doubly to prepare a student to write a competitive research proposal as well as to conduct doctoral research. Although some students may need no external funding for their research, most will. The submission of external funding proposals is an important component of professional development. Students typically submit proposals to multiple agencies (e.g., NSF, Wenner-Gren, NIH, Fulbright), to increase their chances of success. Because the time-lag between proposal submission, notification regarding proposal acceptance (or rejection), and the time at which the funds are made available may be 9 months or more, proposals should be submitted to the earliest possible deadline or deadlines once the student has entered the doctoral program.  This presupposes that the student has identified likely sources, learned their deadlines, and organized his or her schedule in such a way as to accommodate the targeted deadlines. Failure to submit in a timely way will postpone research and cause students to lose significant time. Some links to on- and off-campus sites containing information on funding can be found on the departmental web site here:

http://pages.uoregon.edu/anthro/academics/graduate/

A student who fails one or both of the two written examinations, or who performed unsatisfactorily in the oral presentation of the dissertation prospectus, will be permitted one retake. Any retake must occur within one year of taking the first exam or defending his/her prospectus, whichever occurred first.

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Other Requirements for the Doctorate

The following course and additional requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed before advancement to candidacy.

Other Requirements for Archaeology Students As described in an earlier section, in order to complete the Masters degree, an archaeology student must complete a skill requirement. To complete the doctoral degree, an archaeology student must complete an additional (second) “skill.” Alternatively, a high level of competence in a single foreign language will fulfill both skills required at the doctoral level. Students should choose a skill in consultation with the advisor no later than the first year of the doctoral program.  The student preparing for the doctorate must complete both skill requirements before the Ph.D. comprehensive examinations may be taken.  All classes used to satisfy the skill requirement must be taken on a graded basis.

There are several ways to complete the skill requirement for the Ph.D.:

  • Ancillary skill (as described under Skill Requirement for the Masters degree).
  • Language. A second language (as described under Skill Requirement for Masters degree), or demonstration of greater proficiency in a single foreign language, or demonstration of greater proficiency in English and proficiency in a field language.
  • Major Research Proposal or a Paper accepted for publication

Ancillary Skill. The skill requirement for advancement is the same as described above for the Masters degree.

Language. Students who desire to satisfy both skills by demonstrating high proficiency in a single language must pass the Modern Language Association (MLA) examinations in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing, with an average percentile score of 55 or better and no individual score below the 45th percentile. In the case of languages for which no MLA exam is available, students may demonstrate their ability by another appropriate examination procedure.

International students who desire to meet both skills by demonstrating high proficiency in English may do so by documenting their graduation from a degree program at an institution where English is the language of instruction. Alternatively, such students may undergo an English proficiency evaluation by their doctoral committee, based on the written Ph.D. examinations and oral defense of the dissertation prospectus.

In cases where a student wishes to develop as a skill a field language not taught on campus, the student, with the support of his/her advisor, may petition the Graduate Committee for the acceptance of a package of three appropriate courses in Linguistics, chosen to prepare the student for language learning in the field. Alternatively, if an examiner is available, an examination procedure will be permitted.  The examination procedure must first be cleared by the Graduate Committee.

Major Research Proposal or a Paper accepted for publication, Ph.D. students may submit–in consultation with their faculty advisor and Ph.D. committee–a substantive and significant research paper for peer-reviewed publication, or a grant application to a major funding source (NSF, Wenner-Gren, SSRC, NIH, or comparable funding source).  Publications or grant proposals must be submitted while in residence at the University of Oregon.  If graduate students choose to submit a paper for peer-reviewed publication, they are encouraged to present the paper or poster session at a national, international, or regional conference before the paper comes out, although this is not required.  For papers submitted for publication, the graduate student must be the first author and the student’s advisor and committee should be satisfied that the work is primarily the intellectual product of the student.  The paper must be formally accepted by the journal to meet this requirement.  The publication or grant proposal option is strongly recommended for Ph.D. students who hope to pursue careers in academia, but may also be extremely helpful for those pursuing applied or CRM careers.

Other Requirements for Biological Anthropology Students Students of Biological Anthropology choose a skill in consultation with the advisor no later than the first year of the doctoral program. Language skills and a variety of ancillary skills may be used to fulfill this requirement. All classes used to satisfy the skill requirement must be taken on a graded basis.

Ancillary skill. Competence in a variety of professional and scientific research skills may be developed through completing a set of three or more interrelated courses that include both practical and theoretical components. An ancillary skills package is designed in consultation with the advisor and should complement the student’s areas of expertise in anthropology.  Ancillary skill satisfying course packages:

  • are from allied fields (not from anthropology course offerings, examples include anatomy, biology, computer science, geography, geology, and psychology),
  • comprise a minimum of three interrelated courses,
  • develop practical expertise in data collection, manipulation, or analysis, and
  • involve learning experiences in laboratory or field settings.

Students are encouraged to plan their skill package carefully with their advisor taking their professional and career goals and their more immediate dissertation research into account.  A one-page description of the ancillary skill package, how it relates to the student’s academic program and dissertation research, and the courses that will fulfill the skill requirement should be approved by the advisor and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator.

Language. Any foreign language may be submitted by the student with their advisor’s approval.  See description for archaeology students above.

Major Research Proposal or a Paper accepted for publication. See description for archaeology students above.

Other Requirements for Cultural Anthropology Students. In cultural anthropology, students can demonstrate competence in a foreign language other than the one completed for the Masters degree, demonstrate high proficiency in a single language, take three courses in a cognate field, submit a high-quality paper for publication, or develop a major funding proposal (e.g., NSF, Wenner-Gren). All classes used to satisfy this requirement must be taken on a graded basis.

Language. Students can demonstrate competence in a foreign language other than the one completed for the Masters by following the same requirements as specified under Language Requirement for Masters degree.

Students who desire to satisfy both Masters and Ph.D. requirements with a single language, must demonstrate high proficiency by passing the Modern Language Association (MLA) examinations in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing, with an average percentile score of 55 or better and no individual score below the 45th percentile. In the case of languages for which no MLA exam is available, students may demonstrate their ability by another appropriate examination procedure.

International students who desire to meet the language requirement by demonstrating high proficiency in English may do so by documenting their graduation from a degree program at an institution where English is the language of instruction. Alternatively, such students may undergo an English proficiency evaluation by their doctoral committee, based on the written Ph.D. examinations and oral defense of the dissertation prospectus.

In cases where a student wishes to develop knowledge of a field language not taught on campus, the student, with the support of his/her advisor, may petition the Graduate Committee for the acceptance of a package of three appropriate courses in Linguistics, chosen to prepare the student for language learning in the field. Alternatively, if an examiner is available, an examination procedure will be permitted.  The examination procedure must first be cleared by the Graduate Committee.

Cognate Field.  Competence in a variety of professional and scientific research skills may be developed through completing a set of three or more interrelated courses that include both practical and theoretical components. A cognate field package is designed in consultation with the advisor and should complement the student’s areas of expertise in anthropology.  The package of cognate courses should be tailored to a student’s research interests and offered not in anthropology but in allied fields (art history, biology, comparative literature, folklore, geography, geology, psychology, public policy and planning, sociology, for example).

Major Research Proposal or Paper accepted for publication. See description for archaeology students above

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From Doctoral Candidacy to the Ph.D.

Once advanced to candidacy, the doctoral candidate will propose a doctoral committee, in consultation with their advisor. The doctoral committee must include three members from the Anthropology Department plus one member from a University of Oregon department other than Anthropology, who is termed the ‘outside member.’ Usually the doctoral comittee consists of the examination committee plus the outside member as the fourth member. If the examination committee included a member from another department, then a third member from the Anthropology Department must be added. The student’s advisor will inform the Graduate Coordinator of the proposed committee, who will inform the Graduate School, which authorizes the formation of the committee.  The remainder of the candidate’s program will be devoted to the research upon which the dissertation is to be based, to the preparation of the final manuscript, and to its successful defense.  Students who aspire to obtaining a position in academia should also work on publications during this time.

Field Research. Normally a student undertakes dissertation research in the year following advancement to candidacy.  Much of the basic planning, however, is done during or as a part of the preparation of the prospectus beforehand.  If research funds are required, applications to funding agencies should have been submitted while the student was taking courses and preparing for exams. All required permits must be obtained prior to the beginning of the research.  If research involves human subjects, before research begins, on-campus clearance must be obtained through the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Office of Research Compliance Services. http://orcr.uoregon.edu/index.cfm?action=irb

If research involves animals, on-campus clearance must be obtained through the Office of Veterinary Services and Animal Care. http://ovsac.uoregon.edu/

Preparation of the Dissertation. While in the field, students will maintain contact with their dissertation advisor and continue to be enrolled in absentia at the University. Preparation of the dissertation will be done in close consultation with the advisor. The dissertation itself should be based upon original research, typically involving field or laboratory work.  It must be written in fully professional and publishable style, appropriate to the sub-field of specialization and adhering to the University of Oregon Thesis and Dissertation Style and Policy Manual, which can be found here: http://gradschool.uoregon.edu/policies-procedures/doctoral/dissertation

Presentation of the Dissertation. All members of the dissertation committee read the dissertation before it enters final draft in order that the student may make revisions before undertaking the final typing.  The student should make drafts of the dissertation available to the committee in a timely fashion according to an agreed upon schedule, and the committee should provide feedback to the student in a timely manner.  A complete revised draft of the dissertation must be distributed to all committee members at least three weeks before the candidate can take action to schedule the oral defense. The chair of the student’s committee will confer with the committee to decide whether the defense should be scheduled.  After the committee has agreed that the dissertation is defensible, the student must orally present and defend the dissertation before the committee and such faculty, graduate students, and others as desire to attend.  Dissertation defenses are open to the public.

The decision on the dissertation is made by the dissertation committee alone.  Upon its positive recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School, and with the fulfillment of all other requirements, the candidate is awarded the Ph.D. degree.

No candidate can be recommended for the degree until the minimum Graduate School requirements for credits, residence, study, and the skills requirements set forth by the Department have been satisfied.

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