Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in the field of Anthropology

Program Learning Outcomes for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of Anthropology

Upon completing the MA and PhD degrees in the field of Anthropology, students will have:

  1. Developed the skills to pursue successfully various professional endeavors, within and outside the academy.
  2. Obtained comprehensive understanding of the history of the discipline and anthropological theory and practice. 
  3. Engaged with the key methodological, theoretical and critical analytical skills at the heart of the discipline with the capacity to become skilled producers of anthropological knowledge and to critique actively and reconfigure canonical anthropological knowledge. 
  4. Applied research and analytical skills to original research questions and case studies to produce actively innovative approaches to anthropological knowledge and to intervene effectively in extant disciplinary discussions and debates. 
  5. Conducted responsible, ethically appropriate research with their interlocutors and consultants in a world of increasingly complex interplay between small-scale and large-scale concerns and commitments. 

Requirements for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of Anthropology

The department seeks applicants to the PhD program with a defined research interest in sociocultural anthropology; an undergraduate background in anthropology is desirable, but not required. Entering students will devise a detailed first-year plan of study with provisional plans for succeeding years in consultation with a faculty advisory committee. The plan will emphasize broad training in the discipline before the eventual definition of a project for dissertation research.

MA Degree Program

The MA degree is a thesis master’s degree. For general university requirements, please see Thesis Master’s Degrees. Although students are not normally admitted to study for an MA in the social-cultural area of specialization, graduate students may earn the MA degree after obtaining approval of their candidacy for the PhD. To earn an MA degree in the field of Anthropology, students must complete: 

  • 30 semester hours of approved course work
  • One qualifying exam or one qualifying essay required for the PhD
  • A thesis which meets the standards of the student's candidacy committee.

PhD Degree Program

For general university requirements, please see Doctoral Degrees. Students pursuing the PhD degree program in Anthropology with the social-cultural specialization must:

  • Complete required course work: 90 semester hours of graduate study (undergraduate courses, including language courses, do not satisfy this requirement)
  • Complete 5 Required Courses (15 credit hours) listed below.
  • Complete 4 additional courses (12 credit hours) as electives in the Department of Anthropology (either ANTH 500-level or ANTH 600-level).
  • Prior to achieving candidacy, successfully complete an end-of-year report. Students will write a 2-3 page (double-spaced) summary of their achievements for the year and consult with a faculty panel at the end of each spring semester.


Total Credit Hours Required for the PhD Degree in Anthropology90

Degree Requirements

Required Courses
Elective Requirements
Students pursuing the social-cultural specialization must take at least 4 courses from departmental ANTH course offerings that are designated as 500-level or 600-level courses12
Additional Requirements as Defined by the Department63
Total Credit Hours90

Footnotes and Additional Information

Requirements for PhD Candidacy (and thus eligibility for the candidacy MA)

Students pursuing the PhD degree program in Anthropology must complete the following. These requirements must be completed no later than the end of the eighth semester of enrollment in the program:

  • Successful completion of all required courses. Students must receive at least a 'B' in a course for the department to deem it successfully completed. They must maintain a G.P.A. of at least 3.0 each semester to remain in good academic standing.
  • The approval by the student's candidacy committee of either two qualifying examinations or two qualifying essays (further details are noted in the Graduate Student Handbook on the Department of Anthropology’s website).  
  • The approval by the candidacy committee of the design and content of at least one undergraduate syllabus to be created in ANTH 650.
  • The committee’s approval of the dissertation research.
  • For students not bilingual, the passing of an examination in a period of 90 minutes, with the help of a dictionary, of at least 1,000 words into English from an academic journal article in anthropology in either the relevant field language or a major scholarly language, such as French, German, or Spanish.
  • (For acquisition of the PhD) Complete and defend the dissertation to the satisfaction of the student's dissertation committee.

Policies for the PhD Degree in the field of Anthropology

Department of Anthropology Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the department of Anthropology publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here:

Financial Support

All first-year students receive the same level of support: a combination of graduate fellowships and tuition scholarships. These awards are renewed for a further four years of study contingent on satisfactory performance.

For additional information, please see the Anthropology website:

Opportunities for the PhD Degree in the field of Anthropology

Special Options

The department will, in a limited fashion, arrange independent study tutorials on specialized topics relevant to student training if they are necessary outside of the regular curriculum; these seminars may be conducted in supervisory consultation with scholars in other disciplines as well as with departmental and adjunct faculty.

Students interested in the specialized field of medical anthropology may, in consultation with faculty, make use of the extensive resources of the Texas Medical Center through ties established with the University of Texas School of Public Health and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Students may earn degree credit for formal courses taken at both schools if the coursework is in accord with the expectations of each degree program.

For additional information, please see the Anthropology website: