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. Accordingly, while a high score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is helpful, the Department gives primary consideration to an applicant's statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and writing sample.


Deadlines and When to Apply

Applications to the Ph.D. program in Anthropology are accepted beginning September 4. Completed application packets must be received by December 2 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


Application Materials

You'll be required to submit all supplemental application materials electronically, direct through the on-line application you will create in the campus application system, Slate.

* letters of recommendation (3),
* GRE scores,
* academic statement of purpose and personal history statement,
* transcripts
* writing sample

Letters of Recommendation

Three 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.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The GRE General Test is required of all applicants for Ph.D. admission. We cannot waive this requirement, even when the applicant has completed an advanced degree at another college or university in the United States. As noted above, while a high score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is helpful, the Department gives primary consideration to an applicant's statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and writing sample.

We cannot accept GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT scores in place of the GREs. We do not require that applicants file scores from any of the various GRE (subject) tests available.

GRE test results are not valid for more than 5 years. Please see the Social Sciences Graduate Office website for official cut off dates. UC Irvine's GRE code is 4859.

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, and is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your intellectual interests. You may use the statement of purpose to answer 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? 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 articulate a possible plan for graduate-level anthropological research that is compelling, feasible, and speaks to broader debates within the discipline and beyond.

(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) 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.

A statement of purpose should be in the range of 750–1,200 words (around three to five double-spaced, 12-point font pages).

Personal History Statement

The online application system provides the possibility for you to provide a "Personal History Statement." This Personal History Statement, separate from the Statement of Purpose, is required if you wish to be considered for a fee waiver. Otherwise, it not required (most Statements of Purpose include, to some extent, at least, elements that would otherwise be included in a Personal History Statement).

If you do not wish to file a separate Personal History Statement, simply do the following. In the box in the online application in which the personal history statement would normally be entered write "See Statement of Purpose." To repeat: the Personal History Statement is mandatory only if you wish to be considered for a fee waiver.

We require only a single transcript from each school attended, uploaded by the applicant. We are no longer able to accept paper documents through the mail, or to upload electronic supplemental materials on the applicant's behalf.

Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for admission consideration. All admission offers will be provisional. Those who are offered and accept admission and financial support will then be required to submit official documents before the start of the Fall 2019 term, to clear the provisional admission status.

Writing Sample

Only one writing sample should be provided and must be uploaded into the Slate application as uploaded documents. The writing sample should be 8,000–10,000 words long so faculty have time to read the sample in its entirety.

The writing sample does not have to be based upon anthropological research; it could be a seminar paper, a chapter from a thesis, or any kind of original social science writing that demonstrates your skills in critical thinking and analysis. We do not expect applicants to create a sample from scratch for this purpose; we do not have any specific formatting instructions for applicants.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The internet-based TOEFL(-ibT) is required of all international applicants except citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The test is also required of US permanent residents who did not attend four full years and graduate high school in the United States.

A minimum overall score of 80/120 is required for admission, while a minimum sub-score of 26/30 on the Speaking component of the test is needed to qualify for financial support consideration. We cannot waive either of these minimum score requirements under any circumstances. Neither can we waive the requirement for current TOEFL or IELTS scores.

We can accept current IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores as an alternative to the TOEFL-ibT, in which case a minimum 7/9 (overall) is required for admission, and 8/9 (Speaking component) for financial support consideration.

TOEFL-ibt or IELTS test scores for Fall 2019 admission must be dated no earlier than February 2017.

Degrees Offered

The Department of Anthropology offers a Ph.D. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Social Sciences (concentration in Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies), known as the M.A. in MSTS.

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. Completion of the M.A. in MSTS does not guarantee admission into the Ph.D. program.

The Ph.D. cohort size ranges between 8 and 12, 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.



© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766