Course Work

Graduate students in Anthropology are required to take 12 courses, including three required courses, spread over the first three years.

The first required course is a pro-seminar typically offered in the first semester of the first year. The pro-seminar addresses the history of anthropology through the lens of a particular topic. All first-year students are required to take this course. Senior graduate students may also take this course if the topic to be investigated is different from the one they have taken.

The second required course is research methods which is offered in the fall semester of the second year. In the course students will reflect on the summer fieldwork they carried out at the end of their first year of graduate training, and develop methodological strategies for their future dissertation research. Students in this class are also required to organize and participate in a departmental methodology workshop that takes place towards the end of the fall semester.

The third required course is Proposal Writing, which is offered in the first semester of the third year. In this course students learn to articulate their dissertation research projects and apply for external funding.

In addition to these three required courses, a fourth course, on Regions, is strongly recommended for second year students. The course, which is typically offered in the spring semester is designed to help second year students to acquire expertise in the regional debates and literature they will draw on for their dissertation proposals.

In addition to these required and recommended courses, the department is committed to offering up to three electives each semester and to sequencing electives over two years to ensure that every cohort is exposed to a wide array of themes, concepts and areas. Students are strongly encouraged to take courses from a variety of department faculty to develop broad-based relations and cross-cutting interests. The department is very committed to collective mentorship and encourages students to engage as many faculty as possible on their interests.

With the approval of their advisors, students may request to count up to two courses in a related discipline from the social sciences or humanities towards the required 12 courses.

If students wish to initiate a directed reading course on a topic of interest to several of them, they should approach the relevant faculty member so it is approved and made into an official course well in advance of the semester in which it is to be offered.

Advising and Evaluation

Each student will be assigned an advisor for the first two years of study after which they have to constitute their committee with a chair and second reader. Students meet periodically with their adviser/chair to discuss their academic plans.

All students are required to sit for a qualifying exam in March or April of their first year. For this exam, students will write short essays in response to questions based on a previously circulated reading list. A faculty committee will evaluate the essays. If the committee deems it necessary, the student may have to retake the exam in early May. If the second effort is unsatisfactory, the student will be asked to leave the program.

Students are expected to maintain consistent progress and will get annual evaluations from their advisers based on consultation with the other faculty.

Students may only carry forward one incomplete in their grades at a time. Students are required to petition for an extension of any incomplete (I or IP) grade that extends beyond one year. Petitions should be filed with the student’s advisor, DGS and the Departmental Chair.

Students are required to have their comprehensive exams (see below) completed by the first semester of their fourth year before the start of field work.

Other Requirements

Foreign Language

All graduate students are required to study one foreign language. This could be a field language or a language that a student would find useful for research literature. In the case of students whose native language is not English, the foreign language must be different from their native tongue.

Students should be able to demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language relevant to their field of study before completing the comprehensive exam. Students must be certified as having achieved at least an intermediate proficiency in their chosen foreign language before they proceed to conduct fieldwork.

The Center for Language Education and language departments on campus are a resource for students to complete this requirement. Students can seek outside funding for training as well, and a limited amount of money is available from the department for language training outside the university.


All students are required to provide teaching assistance for three courses in the first three years of their training. There are other possibilities for gaining teaching experience after the student has acquired All But Dissertation (ABD) status. These include the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship and Teaching Fellowships from the Programs in Latin American Studies, Expository Writing, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program’s Teaching Fellowship.


The department holds regular colloquia with external speakers. Participation is an essential component of the student’s training and attendance at colloquia is mandatory while the student is resident in the university. All ABD students are required to present their work in the departmental colloquium at least once before their graduation.

Comprehensive Examination

Students are required to schedule and complete their exams by the first semester of the fourth year after completion of coursework. The major requirement for this is the preparation of two synthetic essays: the first on a conceptual issue, and the second on a region.

Students should begin to conduct bibliographic searches for these essays in the first year and hold consultations with all members of the faculty as they develop these essays. The final essays should be between 25 and 30 pages in length, and should demonstrate the student’s mastery over the major debates in their chosen fields.

Each student is responsible for establishing a three-member committee of the faculty (one of whom should be requested to act as chair) who will examine the student on the essays and conduct a viva voce examination. In some cases, this committee could include one member of the faculty from outside the Department of Anthropology. The names of the committee members should be communicated to the academic program coordinator by the end of the second year. Students should inform the coordinator of any changes to their committee.

While the committee will conduct the examination, the essays must be read and approved by all members of the departmental faculty. Students must circulate their essays to all faculty members at least four weeks before the date of examination, and incorporate or otherwise address the faculty’s suggestions in making revisions.

The final essays must be submitted to the examination committee, along with a copy of the student’s dissertation research proposal, at least two weeks before the scheduled exam. Students will be awarded the MA degree on passing the comprehensive examination.

Most students will receive ABD (All But Dissertation) status upon successful completion of the comprehensive examination, and may proceed to their dissertation research, or there may be personal circumstances in which a student may wish to discontinue after receipt of the MA degree.