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Graduate Program

The UO Department of Anthropology offers the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree with a concentration in one of three subfields: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, or Cultural Anthropology. While graduate students choose one subfield on which to focus their studies, many follow an interdisciplinary path that bridges between subfields, as well as to different disciplines. This approach is encouraged in our department, which is distinctive in its commitment to the integration of the anthropological subfields via five Areas of Expertise and Focus.

Students without a relevant Master’s degree (i.e., a Master’s degree in Anthropology or a closely related field) are admitted as Conditional Doctoral Students and first obtain an M.A. or M.S. in Anthropology in the departmental Master’s program before transitioning into the Ph.D. program. Students with relevant Master’s degrees are admitted as Doctoral Students directly into the Ph.D. program.

The goal of virtually all the students in our graduate program is to obtain a Ph.D. in preparation for an academic career in research/teaching or for a career as a professional anthropologist doing applied work. We rarely admit students whose sole aim is to obtain a Master’s degree, except in the case of a student interested in obtaining a Master’s so s/he can work professionally in the field of Cultural Resource or Heritage Management. In most cases, such a student will be studying archaeology of Oregon or the Pacific Northwest and have a research or applied project underway for their Master’s project. We expect such students to have attended an archaeological field-school, have gained some lab experience, and have some practical experience in CRM, working for a government agency, contract firm, or university research division.

Graduate Student Monya Anderson at the Smithsonian Institute’s Natural History Museum

Our graduate program attracts outstanding students from across the nation and around the world. Students in the program work closely with a primary advisor, who supervises their graduate training through formal coursework and supervised research and teaching activities. Paths through the graduate program vary by subfield and by individual student. All graduate students take a core set of anthropology courses, which is determined by their primary subfield of study, and then select an appropriate set of courses from both inside and outside the department to fulfill their degree requirements in a way that best suits the individual’s professional goals. For students getting their Master’s on the way to the Ph.D., the advisor and a second reader supervise the completion of a thesis or paper. For doctoral students, the advisor and a doctoral committee supervise the completion of key program requirements, including the comprehensive examinations, proposal defense, and dissertation research. Additional information on graduate requirements can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.

felicia madimenos heel ultrasonometer

Graduate student Felicia Madimenos using a heel ultrasonometer to measure bone density in a Shuar man from Ecuador. Felicia’s doctoral research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation

Nearly all graduate students in the Department of Anthropology receive funding for all or most of their graduate study. Funding is not guaranteed and is typically determined on a year-to-year (or sometimes a term-by-term) basis, based on academic merit and availability of Graduate Teaching Fellowships. Students making good progress in the program typically receive approximately 4 years of departmental support. Most graduate students are supported through departmental Graduate Teaching Fellowships, which are teaching assistant positions that involve leading discussion or lab sections. There are other potential sources of funding available to graduate students in the department, which are detailed in the Graduate Student Handbook. These include Graduate Teaching Fellowships in other departments or centers (e.g., Biology, General Science, Center on Diversity and Community), Research Assistantships, and through external sources of funding such as the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

In addition to funding for graduate study, students in the program typically apply to and receive funds to support scholarly research activities. Many of our students receive internal UO sources of funding to support their research, such as the through the various departmental awards or through various research institutes and centers around campus. Examples of the latter include small research grants (<$5000) from the Center on Diversity and Community, Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, Center for the Study of Women in Society, the Graduate School, and the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, among others.

magana street art pic

A photograph from graduate student Maurice Magaña’s doctoral research in Mexico. Maurice is funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for his project “Contentious Walls: The Cultural Politics of Social Movement Street Art in Southern Mexico”

Graduate students typically seek external financial support for their doctoral research, through federal programs such as the National Science Foundation or the Social Sciences Research Council, or through private foundations like the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The high success rate for obtaining competitive research grants is a testament to the extremely high quality of graduate students in the UO anthropology program. Additional information on funding opportunities can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.

A list of current graduate students along with research interests can be found on the Graduate Student Page.

The Association of Anthropology Graduate Students (AAGS) addresses the concerns of all students interested in the field of Anthropology through colloquium seminars and lectures. As the representative body for graduate students in Anthropology, AAGS is also a unified forum for the presentation of suggestions and grievances regarding the intellectual atmosphere, working conditions, and other matters that affect those enrolled in the Anthropology graduate program at the University of Oregon. For more information about AAGS, visit our webpage.


Interested in our graduate program? Visit our

Information for Prospective Graduate Students page

and our

Graduate Admissions Procedure page.