The information below addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about the Program. Please consult other pages of this website and the Program Handbook for a fuller description of the doctoral program and the courses of study. Also see the Prospective Students section of the Graduate Center website for general information on admissions procedures, financial aid, housing, student life, health and wellness, professionalization and career counseling.
We accept applications only for courses of study beginning in the Fall semester. The Anthropology Program does not admit new students for the Spring semester. Deadlines and required materials for applications vary by subfield. Students should consult the information posted on the Admissions page of the GC website for relevant deadlines in their subfield. Physical Anthropology applicants should also follow the special instructions on the NYCEP tracking form.
Members of the Admissions Committee will be keenly interested in the required Statement of Purpose. This short essay should convey a clear sense of your academic background and preparation for doctoral study, as well as your intellectual direction and plans. The required letters of recommendation should be from persons familiar with your academic work and your capacity to do doctoral study in Anthropology.
For applicants to the Cultural Anthropology subfield a writing sample is required. Submit a writing sample of 8,000 words or less, for example a research paper, reflecting your scholarly and critical abilities. It should show how you pose and resolve some kind of intellectual problem, using either your own data or other sources. Self-contained papers are usually more successful than selections from theses. Please use a font of 11 or 12, with 1.5 spacing. For subfields other than Cultural Anthropology, a writing sample is optional. You may submit a writing sample, for example a research paper, reflecting your scholarly and critical abilities
When all required items have been received, your file will be reviewed by the Anthropology Program's Admissions Committees. The Program cannot keep track of specific materials for individual applicants, so it is your responsibility to ensure that your materials reach the Office of Admissions before the deadline.
Admission to the PhD Program in Anthropology is very competitive. Four essential factors are considered: a solid academic record and relevant professional/research experience; excellent references; strong test scores (GRE, as well as TOEFL if appropriate); and an articulate and interesting personal statement. No single item is considered in isolation.
The Program is committed to diversity among its students; we strongly encourage applications from minorities and underprivileged students. Our student cohorts over the years reflect a wide diversity of interests, backgrounds, ethnicities and nationalities.
If you apply, you will be notified as soon as the respective Committee reaches a decision on your application. Because of the large number of applications requiring careful consideration the review process can be protracted. If you have not heard from us it probably means your application remains under consideration. We regret that the large number of applications and our small staff prevent us from individually updating applicants on the status of their applications or explaining the eventual decisions.
Beginning in Fall 2013, all students admitted to the Anthropology Doctoral Program will receive full tuition fellowships for five years of study. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are required to establish New York State residency to maintain full fellowship coverage in years 2-5. Many students will also receive Graduate Center Fellowships (GCFs) that include stipend/research support of $25,000 annually. The Graduate Center also offers Magnet Fellowships for selected students from underrepresented groups providing tuition and an annual stipend of $27,000. Federal and State financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and work study are also available for students who qualify. A variety of other fellowships are offered by the Graduate Center including a limited number of Dissertation Fellowships for advanced doctoral candidates who are completing their dissertations. Detailed information on these awards and other options for support is available on the Financial Aid webpage. Students applying for admission are encouraged to apply at the same time for external aid for which they might be eligible, including National Science Foundation and Ford Foundation Fellowships. Applicants from outside the U.S. should apply for their own government programs where they exist. The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research also provides support for students from designated countries.
The Program encourages students to make preliminary research trips to potential fieldsites. Graduate Center Fellowships (GCFs) include $2,000 of support annually designated for summer research purposes. The Doctoral Students Research Grants (DSRG) program provides funds annually on a competitive basis that students can use for this purpose or to augment their summer research stipend support if needed. The Program also typically reserves some of its financial aid allocation to subsidize first-time visits to field sites and holds an annual competition for the available funds. With close faculty guidance, students write proposals for their dissertation fieldwork and submit them to external funding agencies. Students in the Program receive outside funding for their research at an exceptionally high rate. In the last three years, over 30 students have received dissertation research funding from an array of agencies, including: American Association of University Women, American Council of Learned Societies, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ford Foundation, Foreign Language and Area Studies, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, International Research and Exchanges Board, Mellon Foundation, National Drug Research Institute, National Science Foundation, Romanian Cultural Society, Ruth Landes Memorial Fund, Sigma Xi, Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
The results of the National Doctoral Program Survey (2000), funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, place our Program in the top five of forty-one Anthropology programs surveyed across the country. Altogether, over 32,000 doctoral students and recent Ph.D.'s evaluated their program's educational practices. The survey was specifically designed to assess student perceptions of the educational effectiveness of their doctoral programs based on the adoption of widely accepted best practices in doctoral education, as recommended by the Association of American Universities, National Research Council, and others.
It is impossible to miss the growing number of CUNY alumni on the faculties of Anthropology and related departments in colleges and universities across the country, indeed around the world. Over the past three years, graduates of the program have taken up full-time teaching positions at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Federal University of Bahia, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fordham University, Grand Valley State University, James Madison University, Middle East Technical University, North Carolina State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Ohio State University, Regis University, Saint Mary's College, University of Maryland-College Park, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Vanderbilt University, Wayne State University, West Chester University, Western Connecticut State University, and Wheaton College. Many others have gone on to successful careers outside the academy.
Various factors determine success in academic and non-academic job placement. The Program's four-field requirement together with exceptional opportunities for fieldwork and teaching experience, provide CUNY Anthropology graduates with credentials not commonly available from other doctoral programs. Most students acquire significant undergraduate teaching experience at the various colleges of the CUNY system and other colleges in the area while completing their degrees. Many students establish a track record of writing successful proposals and winning external funding for their research (see “Funding for Fieldwork” above). Students regularly participate in professional meetings, and many organize sessions and present papers. It is not uncommon for our students to publish an article while they are writing their dissertations. These activities enhance the job prospects of CUNY graduates in what is undeniably a challenging economic environment, especially for those seeking academic positions. The program also works with the Graduate Center’s Office of Career Planning and Professional Development to enhance student preparation for non-academic careers. The Program's placement rates vary from one year to the next but we are proud of our record and of the achievements of our alumni. Three alumni (one cultural, one physical, and one linguistic) have gone on to win distinguished MacArthur "genius" awards.
After successfully completing the First Exam, a student with relevant graduate work at a prior institution may request that those courses be evaluated for transfer credit. Taking into account the student's academic record in the doctoral program and the comparability of the courses to the GC Anthropology curriculum, the Executive Officer, in consultation with the student's sub-field coordinator and/or curriculum committee, evaluates the courses the student would like to transfer. Official Graduate Center policy allows for the transfer of a maximum of 30 credits. In practice the number of credits commonly approved for transfer is far less.