Graduate Degree Requirements

The Department of Anthropology offers the MA and PhD degrees. Students receiving the MA do so through our 4+1 combined BS/BA+MA program or while working toward the PhD degree.

The enrollment of graduate students in the Department is limited to a number that will make it possible for future students to be given individual attention in their development as teachers, scholars, and social scientists. Seminars, in most cases, are limited to about 10 students, advanced senior and graduate courses are limited to around 20 students. All members of the graduate faculty of the Department are available as major advisors and thesis directors.

Upon their arrival on campus, entering students are assigned to a temporary advisor, but are free to consult any available faculty members concerning their programs during the registration period and thereafter. When a student is ready to specialize, usually during his or her second year, that student is expected to select an advisor who will eventually direct his or her dissertation.

Financial Aid
The Graduate School offers a financial aid package to students of demonstrated ability who enter the program with the intention of pursuing the PhD degree. Depending on his or her qualifications, a student may receive a tuition scholarship, a stipend, and a research assistantship. Up to three years of full financial support are available to students whose progress and performance in the graduate program are satisfactory.

For more information about loans to graduate students, see the Graduate Programs Handbook, available of the School of Liberal Arts' Graduate Studies Resources page.

For more information about joining the Anthropology Graduate Program, see our Apply section.

Degree Requirements

PhD Program

General Requirements for Graduate Degrees
Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and for the degree of Master of Arts are specified by the graduate faculty and the Department. The regulations discussed on this website include both sets of requirements. In general, the steps for admission to PhD candidacy are:

  1. Certification of foreign language competence
  2. Completion of coursework
  3. Passing of comprehensive examinations
  4. Demonstration of competence in basic statistics
  5. Passing the oral examination
  6. Acceptance of the prospectus for the dissertation

Foreign Language Requirement
The foreign language requirements for the master's and doctoral degrees may be fulfilled in the following ways:

  1. By coursework: The student must present evidence of attaining an average of B or better grades in a one-year foreign language course taken at the junior or equivalent level (i.e. 5th and 6th undergraduate semesters) within 3 years of the date of first registration in the Anthropology Graduate Program. OR By earning a B or better in the summer language courses sponsored by the Tulane Graduate Programs Office.
  2. By examination: Departmental language examinations are administered once each semester, on a preannounced date. Students wishing to take a Departmental examination must submit a written request to the Department Chair by a specific date.
  3. By native fluency: Native speakers of languages other than English may petition the Anthropology Department to count either English or their native language as satisfying a foreign language requirement.

Doctoral (PhD) Program in Anthropology
The Department enrolls qualified students in programs of study specializing in archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. The formal requirements for the PhD in anthropology are:

  1. Completion of a minimum of 48 hours of coursework beyond the BA degree, at least 15 hours of which must be at the 700 level. Students specializing in biological anthropology must complete 54 hours of coursework beyond the BA degree; those specializing in archaeology must complete 60 hours of coursework beyond the BA degree.
  2. Demonstration of competence in basic statistics. This requirement must be completed before advancement to candidacy for the PhD or before the award of the MA degree. It is expected that most students would fulfill this requirement before the end of their coursework residency. The statistics requirement may be satisfied by three options:
    1. Satisfactory completion of a college-level course in basic statistics no more than 5 years prior to entering the Graduate Program in Anthropology at Tulane. A student wishing to pursue this option should petition the Department, providing bulletin copy and other relevant documentation in support of the petition.
    2. Satisfactory completion for graduate credit of a course in statistical methods at Tulane. A grade of B or better in Anthropology 6010 or a preapproved course in another department satisfies this option. A student wishing to use other graduate level courses should petition the Department, in advance, for approval.
    3. A student seeking certification in basic statistics without proper course credit may petition the Department for special examination in basic statistics. The Department administers such an examination only once during each academic year, pertaining to all petitions approved during the preceding 12 months.
  3. Within biological anthropology, students specializing in skeletal biology or human paleontology must take a course in human gross anatomy (ANAT 6090) and one additional course in a related field outside the Anthropology Department, in addition to 48 hours of coursework within the Department. Students specializing in Primatology must take 3 courses in related field outside the Department in addition to 45 hours of coursework in the Department. Related fields include Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Cell and Molecular Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Psychology. The selection of courses taken outside of the Department is to be agreed upon by the student and his or her faculty advisor.
  4. Certification in one foreign language (see Foreign Language Requirement, above). It is desirable that the foreign language requirement be met within 18 months of matriculation. The requirement must be fulfilled before admission to candidacy.
  5. An 8-hour written comprehensive examination will be administered over two consecutive days before the conclusion of the 6th semester of residency. This comprehensive examination will cover the subdiscipline of Anthropology in which the student is specializing.
  6. An oral examination of one hour will be required of students in archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology. These oral exams must be taken before the end of the 6th semester of residency. In archaeology and cultural anthropology, the oral exam will cover the anthropology of the geographic area of the student's specialization. In linguistics, the exam will cover the topic of the student's specialization. Biological anthropology does not require an oral exam. Students must petition the Department Chair in writing for the formation of an oral examination committee. Usually, the student's advisor will chair his/her committee. Other members will be chosen by the Department.
  7. Submission of a brief prospectus outlining the subject of the dissertation and approval of this by the Department and the Graduate Council. Guidelines for the preparation of prospectuses a re available in the Department office. Students must petition the Department Chair in writing for the formation of a dissertation prospectus committee. Usually, the student's advisor will chair his/her committee. Other members will be chosen by the Department. Normally, prospectus committees will be formed only after the student has passed the comprehensive and oral examinations. However, grant application deadlines may make it necessary for some students to define their dissertation research ahead of schedule. In such instances, a student may petition the Department Chair in writing for the formation of an advisory committee. Usually, the student's advisor will chair his/her advisory committee. The Department will select other members. This advisory committee will automatically become the student's dissertation prospectus committee upon successful completion of the oral and comprehensive examinations.
    • All students must give each and every member of the Departmental faculty, including Dr. Canuto at MARI, a copy of the prospectus at least 3 business days before the prospectus defense is to take place. For example, if the defense is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:00pm, then copies are due in the hands of the faculty before 3:00pm the preceding Tuesday.
  8. Completion of approximately 1 year of approved anthropological field work. Data collected are usually used in the doctoral dissertation.
  9. Presentation of a dissertation on the approved topic and an oral defense of the dissertation before the faculty of the Department. Students who intend to defend a dissertation must inform the Chair of the Department, in writing, of that intention during the first 2 weeks of the semester in which they wish the defense to be scheduled. Students wishing to receive the PhD degree at May graduation must have a complete copy of their dissertation in the hands of their committee members by February 1. Students wishing to receive the PhD degree in December must give their committee members their complete dissertations by October 15.
  10. All doctoral students are expected to receive some teaching experience. This teaching will be, to the extent feasible, mentored and monitored by the Department, primarily through its Graduate Student Teaching Oversight Committee (GSTOC). Eligibility for teaching Anthropology 1010 (Human Origins) includes qualification in the areas of archaeology and biological anthropology. Qualification in archaeology can be accomplished by satisfactory completion of Anthropology 6250 or Anthropology 7150 or by passing the archaeology comprehensive examination. Qualification in biological anthropology can be accomplished by satisfactory completion of Anthropology 6500 or by passing the biological anthropology comprehension exam. Eligibility for teaching Anthropology 1020 (Cultural Anthropology) includes qualification in cultural anthropology, which can be accomplished by satisfactory completion of a theory course from List A, below, and an ethnography course from List B, or by passing the cultural anthropology comprehensive examination. Eligibility for teaching Anthropology 1030 (Languages of the World) can be accomplished by satisfactory completion of Anthropology 7920 (Linguistic Analysis) or equivalent and one of the following: ANTH 7310 (Prehistory of Languages), ANTH 7590 (Syntax), ANTH 7630 (Phonetics), ANTH 7640 (Phonology), ANTH 7650 (Morphology, or by passing the comprehensive exam in linguistic anthropology.

List A (Theory Courses in Cultural Anthropology)

  • ANTH 6150 Cognitive Anthropology
  • ANTH 6210 Development of Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH 6350 Culture and Religion
  • ANTH 6510 Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism
  • ANTH 7030 Kinship Systems
  • ANTH 7190 Economic Anthropology
  • ANTH 7210 Concepts of Ethnohistory
  • ANTH 7330 Anthropology of Gender
  • ANTH 7360 Anthropology of Cities
  • ANTH 7380 Cultural Dynamics
  • ANTH 7700 Ecological Anthropology
  • ANTH 7870 The Four Field Method

List B (Ethnography Courses in Cultural Anthropology)

  • ANTH 6040 Cultures of Central Asia
  • ANTH 6050 North American Indians
  • ANTH 6060 South American Indians
  • ANTH 6070 Contemporary Chinese Society
  • ANTH 6080 East Asia
  • ANTH 6530 Native North American Art
  • ANTH 6540 Indians of the Great Plains
  • ANTH 6710 Historical Ecology of Amazonia
  • ANTH 6830 Aztec and Maya Literature
  • ANTH 7110 People of Sub-Saharan Africa
  • ANTH 7280 Middle American Indians
  • ANTH 7370 Locating Southeast Asia

Transfer Credit Approval
Students may request transfer credit for graduate coursework done at other institutions, as indicated in the Graduate Programs Handbook. Because approval of the request for the transfer of courses has the effect of decreasing the course residency requirement, students receiving such approval will decrease by one or two semesters their ability for financial aid.

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programs
Students determined to pursue a sharply focused specialization may wish to consider an individual "Special Interdisciplinary Program" as described in the ***Graduate School Bulletin?***. Under this program, an interested student could specialize in a subfield of anthropology while taking relevant courses in one or two other departments (e.g., biological anthropology with Biology or Anatomy courses; anthropological linguistics with classes in a language department; linguistic anthropology with a language department and Philosophy or Mathematics; cultural anthropology or archaeology with Art (history).

MA Degrees for PhD Students

General Requirements for MA Degrees

The requirements for MA degrees in anthropology for students in the PhD program are the following.

  • The completion of 30 hours of graduate coursework, or 24 hours for students doing an MA thesis. A minimum of 6 credit hours must be taken at the 7000 level. Students must earn grades of “B-” or better to receive graduate credit, but the department generally expects PhD students to earn grades of “B” or better in graduate coursework.
  • Certification in one foreign language by the Department (see Foreign Language Requirement, above). This must be completed before the student is admitted to the program or as soon thereafter as is possible.
  • Demonstration of competence in basic statistics (see Quantitative Methods Requirement, above).

Comprehensive exams and advancement to PhD candidacy are not requirements for MA degrees in anthropology.

A student intending to defend a thesis must inform the Chair of the Department, in writing, of that intention during the first 2 weeks of the semester in which he or she wishes the defense to be scheduled. When the thesis has been completed to the satisfaction of the Chair of the thesis committee and approval of the committee has been given, the director will then recommend it to the faculty for acceptance and the candidate will be advised to complete the preparation of the manuscript in accordance with the rules of the Graduate School as set forth in the Graduate Handbook.

Students wishing to receive an MA degree with a thesis at May graduation must submit complete copies of their theses to their committee members by February 1. Students wishing to receive an MA degree at August graduation must submit complete copies of their theses to their committee members by the last Monday in March. To receive an MA degree in December, students must submit complete copies of their theses to all committee members by November 1.