Admissions and Aid

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 Admissions section of the Graduate Center website for general information on admissions procedures, financial aid, housing, student life, health and wellness, professionalization and career counseling.

Learn more or apply online

Application Deadline:

Cultural/Linguistic/Archaeology: December 1
Biological: December 15

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. Biological 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.  

Applicants to the Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology subfields should limit their Statement of Purpose to no more than 750 words, but an additional writing sample is also 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 and Linguistic 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.  Decisions are usually made by early March.

Admission to the PhD Program in Anthropology is very competitive. Three essential factors are considered: a solid academic record and relevant professional/research experience; excellent references; and an articulate and interesting personal statement. No single item is considered in isolation. The Anthropology Program has suspended the use of GRE scores in our evaluation of applications. Please DO NOT upload your scores in the application or have them sent to us by other means. 
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.

Institutional Aid

Every applicant to The Graduate Center’s doctoral programs will automatically be considered for five-year institutional funding packages. The aid we offer — including fellowships, tuition awards, and assistantships — is based on merit. 

Learn more about institutional aid for doctoral students »

Federal Aid

Federal aid for doctoral students includes:

New York State also provides the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for eligible graduate students who are New York State residents.

Outside Aid

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.

Support for Underrepresented Students

Additional funding may be available to incoming students from underrepresented populations through offerings from the Office of Educational Opportunity and Diversity, including several fellowships and the CUNY Pipeline Program for undergraduate CUNY students.

Learn more about funding opportunities from OEOD »

Tuition rates for doctoral programs at The Graduate Center are based on a student's “level,” which is determined by a combination of the number of graduate credits completed (including, in the case of transfer students, credits accepted by the student's degree program and the Registrar) and specific academic accomplishments. 

The fee structure is also affected by a student’s resident status.

See current doctoral tuition rates »

Student Activity Fees

Each student will be billed for a Graduate School student activities fee, a University student senate fee, a University consolidated services fee and a technology fee. These fees are not refundable.

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 and writing at an exceptionally high rate.  In recent years students have received research funding from an array of agencies, including: American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ford Foundation, Foreign Language and Area Studies/U.S. Department of Education  (FLAS/USDE), Fulbright Hayes, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, Inter-American Foundation (IAF), International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), Institute for International Education (IIE) Fulbright, Mellon Foundation, National Drug Research Institute, National Science Foundation (NSF), Romanian Cultural Society, Ruth Landes Memorial Fund, Sigma Xi, Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Wenner-Gren Foundation, and Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Major fellowships received by CUNY Anthropology doctoral students by year

  2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
NSF GRF 2   1 1 1 1
SSRC IDRF   1 2 2 1 3
NSF DDIG 2 2 2 4 3 3
SSRC DPDF   1   2 1 2
ACLS/Mellon 1       1  
HUD DDRG 2          
IIE Fulbright     1 1 1 1
Wenner-Gren 5 4 5 5 6 6
Charlotte Newcombe 1       1 1
Fulbright Hayes     1      
FLAS 1 1   1 1  
Ford Foundation   1        
AAUW   1     1  
IAF       1   1
IREX       1    
SSHRC         1  
totals 14 11 12 18 18 18

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 biological, 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.

The Anthropology Program at the Graduate Center aims to provide graduates with the following: 

  1. Basic familiarity with the four subfields of Anthropology
  2. Appreciation of the history and breadth of knowledge in a single subfield of specialization
  3. Extensive knowledge of a geographical area where they conduct research (if not primarily lab-based)
  4. Familiarity with the variety of methods commonly deployed in the subfield and facility in those required for specialized research
  5. Command of at least one broad topical specialty within which research is conducted
  6. Complete knowledge in a more narrowly defined area of research
  7. The capacity to design, secure funding for, and carry out an independent research project, and then analyze and write up results that constitute a significant contribution to knowledge in the relevant field(s)
  8. The ability to convey knowledge clearly in oral and written form
  9. Familiarity with ethical issues in the discipline, including the treatment of human and/or animal subjects

Dear Prospective Student,

Thank you for your interest in our Ph.D. program. 

Here is some information about the program.  We admit 13-15 cultural and linguistic anthropology students per year.  Each is guaranteed some form of financial support.  9-10 will get full stipends in the amount of $27,000 per year for five years.  Three of those five years include teaching.  The others do not.   Of these funded students, some are also eligible for Provost Enhancement Fellowships, which include a supplement to the stipend in the amount of $10,000+.  The remaining 4 students get tuition scholarships, so they only have to pay for their own living expenses.  Information about the different fellowships can be found here.

We also welcome students with outside funding packages, especially from their countries of origin, if they are international students.  This happens frequently. 

The admissions procedures can be found online here.

The whole application is important, but three parts are especially so. First is the admissions essay. We look closely at that.  Second is your writing sample.  Third, it is important to know whom you would be interested in working with.  We ask you to list at least 4 faculty members who might be interested in your project.  We ask this because we are, of course, very interested in admitting students who have a direct interest in working with our faculty. 

Here is a link to our faculty webpage.  It includes a short profile about each faculty member. 

You might wish to use this as a starting point, if necessary, to identify faculty with whom you might wish to work.

If you are in town during the fall semester, please stop by for one of our Friday colloquia and join us for the reception that follows.  Information about our colloquia series can be found here, under Events.  A new schedule for the fall should be posted by the third week in September. 

I am available to meet with prospective graduate students.  Please contact our program office to make an appointment or to set up a time to talk.  You can get contact information on our program’s website here.  

I look forward to reading your application!

Take care,

Jeff Maskovsky
Executive Officer (Chair)
PhD Program in Anthropology

Contact Us

Questions may be addressed to the Anthropology Program subfield coordinators:

Additional Information

GC Links

Visit the following links for additional information for prospective students:

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