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. Moreover, 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

The Department of Anthropology only admits students for the Ph.D. with the exception of the master's-only program in Medicine, Science & Technology Studies. Admissions are only for fall quarter. Accordingly, we encourage all graduate students to begin the application process early to ensure ample time for collection of all required materials. All applicants for the Ph.D. programs must apply online using the UCI Online Application for Graduate Admissions. Paper applications are no longer used.

Applications will be accepted beginning September 16. Completed application packets must be received by December 1 in order to be fully considered for admission and financial support for fall quarter. Admissions offers are made in February.

Any documents that cannot be uploaded directly into the online application (this includes transcripts and the writing sample) can be sent as PDF documents to; they will be uploaded for you.

Further information on the application process and graduate study at UCI is available at the Social Sciences Graduate Affairs Office or by email at See also UCI information for prospective applicants. If you would like to apply for a waiver of the application fee, see this webpage:


Costs and Financial Aid

Tuition and Fees

The University of California's current fee and tuition rates are published here: United States citizens and permanent residents who relocate to California from other states may apply for legal residency here, following one year of continuous residence. The required "procedures of intent" are outlined here:

Financial Support

All applications for Ph.D. admission are considered also for financial support, and all admission offers to Anthropology currently include five years of funding. Applicants are not required to apply separately for admission and financial support.

Our competitive, merit-based funding packages include annual registration fees and comprehensive student health insurance; a combination of TA or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) appointment with individual members of faculty, and fellowship quarters in lieu of employment. Summer support and, in limited amounts, graduate student research and travel funding are also available.

All offers to non-residents of California, including non-US citizen international students, include nonresident tuition in the first year or two of study.

Financial assistance based on need (loans, primarily) is available to qualifying student applicants, through UCI Financial Aid & Scholarships:

All students applying for need-based financial aid are required to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

International students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible to apply for federal need-based financial aid.

Further information on assistantships and funding resources can be found here.


Information on graduate student grants can be found in the student center, and the grant proposal application itself can be found here.


Application Materials

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 in the range of 750–1,200 words should be adequate and do nicely (around three to five double-spaced, 12-point font pages).

Writing Sample

Only one writing sample should be provided. It cannot be submitted via the application portal; email it as a PDF to The writing sample should be 8,000–10,000 words long. (That will probably translate to 15–25 pages, but since there is significant variation in fonts, margins, single versus double spaced, etc., it is probably easiest to go by word count.) If you go over that it is not a big deal, but in that case faculty may not 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.

Letters of Recommendation
Three letters are required in support of your application. 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.

Test scores for Fall 2014 admission must be dated no earlier than February 2009. UC Irvine's GRE code is 4859.

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 2014 admission must be dated no earlier than February 2012.


The official University of California, Irvine campus requirement is that applicants provide two official copies of each post-secondary school transcript: undergraduate and graduate alike, including summer schools and non-degree extension work completed. The campus also requires that transcripts be sent directly from the issuing school to the University of California, Irvine academic program to which the candidate is applying for admission. (Applicants who attended UCI must request transcripts from the Registrar's Office; we cannot obtain them on your behalf.)

However, the Department of Anthropology (and other departments in the School of Social Sciences), recognizing the cost and labor involved in obtaining transcripts, optionally allows applicants to simplify the transcript process during the admissions processes. It is fine to provide two official copies of each post-secondary school transcript as noted above. Another option we allow, however, is to provide just one (rather than two) unofficial (rather than official) copy of relevant transcripts. Such unofficial transcripts can either be scanned and sent as email attachments, or as paper documents sent through the regular mail. Note that while these unofficial transcripts are acceptable for admission consideration, they are not acceptable for matriculation. If you are offered and accept admission to our Ph.D. program, an official set of transcripts would be required prior to matriculation.

So to review, there are two options for sending transcripts to us.

Option A: At the time you apply, provide one unofficial transcript (either in paper or electronic pdf format) indicating the conferral of the undergraduate and, for applicants who have advanced academic work, one unofficial transcript for each master's degree conferred. If you are offered admission, matriculation will be subject to providing two official transcripts indicating the conferral of the undergraduate and, for applicants who have advanced academic work, each master's degree conferred. This also includes any other post-secondary program attended, such as community colleges, summer sessions, and non-degree extension programs. These two official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes issued by the school(s) attended. (Applicants who attended UCI must request transcripts from the Registrar's Office; we cannot obtain them on your behalf.) NOTE: if you choose Option A, then if you are offered admission, before you can matriculate and officially join the graduate program, you will need to provide the two official transcripts for all relevant programs.

Option B: At the time you apply, provide two official transcripts indicating the conferral of the undergraduate and, for applicants who have advanced academic work, each master's degree conferred. These two official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes issued by the school(s) attended. (Applicants who attended UCI must request transcripts from the Registrar's Office; we cannot obtain them on your behalf.) NOTE: if you choose Option B, then if you are offered admission there is nothing more you will need to do with regard to transcripts, because we will already have the two official copies.

Regardless of which option you choose, official or unofficial transcripts should be sent directly from the Registrar's Office at your previous institutions, either through the mail to the postal address below, or electronically to

The mailing address for transcripts is:

Attention: Graduate Admissions
Social Sciences Graduate Affairs Office
3151 Social Sciences Plaza A
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, California 92697-5100


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.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A CV may be submitted, but is not required. It is fine to simply discuss relevant research and work experience in the required Statement of Purpose. If you do choose to send a CV, as with the writing sample, it should be emailed as a PDF to

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.



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