Ph.D. Program

For more information on graduate programs, contact, Graduate Coordinator. Deadline for application is December 1.

The PhD program is designed to help students develop the skills necessary for independent and original research.  Under the supervision of a faculty advisor and committee of their choosing, students will develop a course of study to successfully complete their PhD.  Students are encouraged to complete all requirements for the PhD in five to eight years.

PhD Dissertation Committee

In consultation with their advisor, students enrolled in the PhD program must form a PhD Dissertation Committee.  This committee may or may not be the same as the Graduate Advisory Committee.

Responsibilities of this committee may include:

  • Reading outlines and drafts of internship reports, dissertation manuscripts, and offering constructive feedback.
  • Conducting oral and written examinations as appropriate.
  • Advising about career options and opportunities.

PhD Degree Requirements

Requirements for the PhD in Anthropology include:

  • 24 graduate hours of coursework beyond the MA degree
  • 18 graduate hours of dissertation research credit (ANTH 700V)
  • Demonstrated competence in a language other than English
  • Advancement to candidacy via completion of written and oral examinations
  • Successful defense of the dissertation proposal
  • Completion and successful defense of a doctoral dissertation


  1. All students enrolled in the Anthropology PhD program must complete a total of 24 hours of graduate coursework beyond the MA degree including the following courses:
  2. The 5000-level Method & Theory course in their area of specialization (ANTH 5103 for cultural, ANTH 5203 for archaeology, and ANTH 5303 for biological).  These courses are designed to review the history of anthropological subfields; recent theories and practical implication and applications of various methods of acquiring, analyzing and interpreting anthropological data.  Your advisory committee may identify additional method and theory courses for you to take.
  3. At least one "core course" in each of the other two subfields of anthropology.  A list of courses that will fulfill these requirements will be provided each semester.  Although course offerings will vary, a core course will typically include material that is considered foundational for that subfield.
  4. At least one doctoral-level (6000-level) Proseminar course in your subfield.

Additional information regarding the courses listed above, as well as other courses provided in the department, can be found in the Graduate Catalog of Studies.

Students must also complete 18 hours of dissertation research credit beyond the above listed requirements.  These credits may only be completed after the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended.

If you begin your doctoral study at the University of Arkansas with an MA from another university, you must take the required courses as listed above.  However, a doctoral-level student that enters the program with an MA in anthropology may request a waiver for core courses outside of their subfield.  They may no request a waiver for the 5000-level Method & Theory course or the Proseminar in their subfield.  Students interested in requesting a waiver should contact the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students that completed their MA degree at the University of Arkansas are only required to take the Proseminar course in their subfield.  They do not need to re-take the core course in their subfield or the Method & Theory courses listed above for their PhD.

Foreign Language Requirement

PhD students are required to demonstrate competence in a language other than English by passing a written or oral examination as appropriate.  Check with your advisor to learn more about how to complete the language requirement.

Candidacy Examination

A Student must complete Graduate School residence requirements, the foreign language requirement, and departmental course requirements before the student is eligible for advancement to candidacy.  Students will notify their committees of their intention to take the examination, and their committee will construct the examination questions.  The exam will be taken on campus over a period of three consecutive days.

Your committee will construct your written examination questions generally according to these guidelines:

  • Section 1 will cover theory and method in your subfield of anthropology.
  • Section 2 will pertain to the subject area that you plan to pursue for your dissertation research.
  • Section 3 will examine research methods and analytical techniques that you will need to know to successfully conduct your dissertation project.

The student's committee, in consultation with other faculty as needed, will evaluate the written answers.  The student's committee chair will meet with the student and provide relevant feedback, including any weaknesses in the written examination that might need to be addressed in the oral examination.

The committee chair will then schedule an oral exam with the student's committee.  After the oral exam, the committee will meet and make one of the following recommendations:

  1. The student has demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities to proceed with his/her dissertation.  The student is then advanced to candidacy.
  2. Remedial work is necessary.  Remedial work may include taking portions of the qualifying exam again, writing another paper, taking an additional course or independent study, or other options as appropriate.  Upon successful completion of this remedial work, the student will be advanced to candidacy.
  3. The student is not advanced to candidacy.

The committee recommendations will be communicated in writing to the student, Director of Graduate Studies and the Department Chair.  The Graduate School will be notified in writing when students have passed their candidacy examinations.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

Following advancement to candidacy the student is expected to prepare a PhD proposal that will outline the research to be conducted for the dissertation.  To demonstrate competence and preparedness for the dissertation, the dissertation committee will conduct an oral proposal defense.  This proposal defense must be taken no later than the end of the fall or spring semester after completing the written qualifying examinations.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

Following the dissertation proposal defense, the student will undertake their proposed research and prepare an original dissertation on a topic within their subfield of specialization.  The completed dissertation should be submitted to the dissertation chair and dissertation committee within time limits specified by the Graduate School.

It is the responsibility of the dissertation committee to evaluate the quality of the research and ensure that it meets departmental, university, and professional standards.  It is the primary responsibility of the advisor to oversee and follow the progress of the research.  Once research is completed and the dissertation is written in the proper format, the student should submit their dissertation to the dissertation advisor for comments and suggestions.  After making appropriate modifications and upon approval of the advisor, the dissertation should be distributed to the remaining members of the dissertation committee.  The dissertation defense should only be scheduled in consultation with the dissertation advisor, and the committee as necessary.  The Graduate School should be notified of the defense at this time.

With prior consent from your dissertation committee, you will prepare a memorandum announcing the time and location of your final examination and submit this memorandum to the department office and Director of Graduate Studies.  This memorandum should include a short (less than 250 word) abstract of your dissertation, and a list of your committee members and dissertation chair.  This announcement must be distributed no later than ten days before the final examination.

The final examination will be oral and primarily a defense of your dissertation, but it may also include other aspects of your graduate study.  After passing the defense and negotiating any necessary final requirements or revisions with your committee, you should prepare the final dissertation and obtain approval signatures from your advisor and dissertation committee.  Consult the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate School for proper guidelines for submitting final degree paperwork.

If the examination is failed, you must petition the faculty for re-examination; otherwise you will be dismissed from the program.

Teaching Requirement

Although the PhD is primarily a research degree, communication skills are critical to professional development.  Therefore, students will be required to engage in teaching activities within the department before completing the program.