Cultural Anthropology Track

Huts [Photo by James Cameron Monroe]

The Doctoral Program in Cultural Anthropology

During its first fifteen years, our program pioneered new forms of ethnography, re-theorized culture to comprehend power, inequality, heterogeneity, contingency, and continuous change, and engaged conceptual innovations within and beyond the discipline under the rubric of "culture and power." Rather than reproduce the boundaries among the traditional subfields of anthropology, we explored how recombinations of these approaches can elucidate specific anthropological problems. With our new programmatic focus, "emerging worlds," we will carry this work forward and forcefully articulate anthropology's distinctive commitment to the study of culture as world-making practices, past, present, and future. In recent years, our department has theorized culture not as “tradition,” but as the world-making networks, geographies, innovations, meanings, and assemblages that are carrying us into the future. Our new initiative in “Emerging Worlds” articulates the shape of this new disciplinary paradigm.


In their first year of the program students enroll in a team taught, two-quarter intensive core theory seminar and a course in ethnographic methods or practice. In addition to these courses, they participate in the departmental colloquia and proseminars and work closely with their faculty advisor to develop their dissertation prospectus. In their second and third years, students are able to take topical courses both within and outside the department and, in consultation with their faculty committee, have considerable freedom to design their own program of study.

In the spring quarter of their third year, students take Qualifying Examinations prior to advancing to candidacy for the Ph.D. and embarking on a sustained fieldwork project. Students are expected to complete their dissertations within a year of finishing field research.

In addition to the Qualifying Exams students are expected to:

  • pass a first-year review of their written work

  • take three additional 5-credit courses in anthropology (excluding independent study courses)

  • maintain satisfactory academic progress

  • fulfill the ethnographic writing requirement and the foreign language requirement

  • meet the specific requirements of the Graduate Division

Graduate students may obtain a parenthetical notation on their anthropology Ph.D. certificate indicating that they have specialized in Feminist Studies or Latin American and Latino Studies if they meet the requirements of the sponsoring department.

For full details of degree requirements, and other aspects of the anthropology graduate program, please see the Anthropology Graduate Handbook.