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Preparation for Admission

The Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine seeks graduate students interested in a highly selective and intensive program that emphasizes current developments in anthropological theory and innovative methodologies for the study of contemporary issues.

Since the department specializes in sociocultural anthropology, successful applicants to the Ph.D. program must have selected this field of the discipline for the intensive study. The department expects applicants to have preliminary research interests that are broadly consistent with those of our faculty. This is especially important given the nature of anthropological fieldwork.

Successful applicants to our program excelled in their undergraduate work and have demonstrated strong intellectual capabilities and creativity in pursuit of their scholarly goals. Decisions are based on the department’s evaluation of the applicant's statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and writing sample. Applicants may also contact faculty in the department regarding their interest in applying and to explore their fit with the program. Please keep in mind, however, that Individual faculty are not designated specific admissions priorities; admissions are determined by department consensus.


Deadlines and When to Apply

Applications to the Ph.D. program in Anthropology are accepted beginning October 3rd. Completed application packets must be received by December 1st in order to be fully considered for admission and financial support for fall quarter. The Anthropology Ph.D. Program starts in the fall quarter of each year; new students are not admitted for the winter or spring quarters.

To apply, click on the Apply Now button located under our Graduate tab on our website.

The UCI campus uses a fully-online graduate application program, Slate. All applications and supplemental application materials are to be sent through Slate, by the applicant. Letters of recommendation will be submitted by recommenders through the application portal.

Further information on the application process and graduate study at UCI is available at the Social Sciences Graduate Affairs Office or by email at socsci.gradinfo@uci.edu.

Application fee waivers are available to qualifying US citizens and permanent residents: Fee Waiver Information


Application Materials

You'll be required to submit all supplemental application materials electronically, directly through the online application you will create in Slate.

  • letters of recommendation (3)
  • academic statement of purpose
  • personal history statement
  • transcripts
  • writing sample

NOTE: GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is NOT Required.

English Language Proficiency

All graduate students, except those who have earned an undergraduate degree from an institution at which English was the sole language of instruction according to the World Higher Education Database, are required to demonstrate oral English proficiency before they are admitted to a UCI graduate program and are appointed to Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate titles. For Teaching Assistant and Teaching Associate positions, the aforementioned exception will apply only when the undergraduate degree has been earned within five years’ prior to admission to a graduate program at UCI. Please read the full policy on English proficiency for graduate admissions and how to search for your institution in the database on the UCI Graduate Division website. The English proficiency requirement for TAs can be found here.

Letters of Recommendation

Three (3) letters are required in support of your application. These letters must be uploaded by recommenders into the application portal. It is not necessary that your letter writers be anthropologists; it is more important that they be faculty with whom you have worked or studied, and who can talk about your accomplishments and potential for graduate-level study. Professional references are acceptable if you have relevant professional work experience or have not been in school for a number of years.

It is important that you stay in touch with your letter writers to ensure that their letters are submitted by the application deadline.

Academic Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is one of the most important parts of the application to the Department of Anthropology at University of California, Irvine. It is usually the first thing read by members of the Graduate Committee and other faculty. The statement of purpose should articulate as clearly as possible a project that you hope to pursue as a graduate student towards your dissertation. Note that it often happens that persons accepted into our graduate program, like in any graduate program, change their research plans to some extent after they are admitted. The point is to show that you are able to present a possible plan for graduate-level anthropological research that is compelling, feasible, and speaks to broader debates within the discipline and beyond.

Personal History Statement

You may use the personal history statement to tell us about yourself, your background, your intellectual pursuits, and educational experiences, and what has led you to apply for a Ph.D. in anthropology. You may also explain why you believe UC Irvine is the program that will help you to achieve your personal and intellectual objectives. You may consider addressing questions of the following sort (you do not need to answer these exact questions; these are just suggestions):

  1. Why are you interested in Ph.D. study at this time, and why in particular are you interested in the Department of Anthropology at Irvine? What kinds of research are you interested in?
  2. What are your short- and long-term academic, professional, and career goals? How would the process of being a doctoral student and earning a Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at Irvine help you achieve those goals?
  3. What sort of relevant academic background would you bring with you to the Department of Anthropology at Irvine?
  4. How does your intended area of specialization fit with current research areas being pursued by faculty within the department?
  5. Are there other things you would like the members of the admission committee to know about you that are not covered adequately in other parts of the application?

Both the Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement should be in the range of 750–1,200 words each (around three to five double-spaced, 12-point font pages).

Writing Sample

The writing sample should be a piece of scholarly writing that is the best example of your writing and analytical skills. There is no set page limit, but we recommend samples that are more than 10 pages, and fewer than 25 pages.


Degrees Offered

The Department of Anthropology offers a Ph.D. in Anthropology and students enrolled in the Ph.D. program are also eligible to receive an M.A. in Social Sciences (concentration in Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies), known as the M.A. in MSTS, if they complete all of the requirements.

No general M.A. in Anthropology is offered, although students admitted into the Ph.D. program may earn an M.A. in Anthropology along the way. The Ph.D. cohort varies in size, from 5-10 students, and the Department generally has between 50 and 60 students in its Ph.D. program at any one time. While students work closely with their main advisors, they also draw on the expertise of the entire Department and the campus in pursuing their educational and research goals.


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