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 October 1. Completed application packets must be received by December 1 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),
  • academic statement of purpose and 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 Health Education Database, are required to demonstrate oral English proficiency before they admitted to a UCI graduate program and are appointed to Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate titles. For Teaching Assistant and 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 on the UCI Graduate Division website. The English proficiency requirement for TAs can be found here.

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.

Academic Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement

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).


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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