Anthropology: Physical, PhD

The emphasis in the Graduate Program is on training candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. This degree certifies that, in addition to having a sound knowledge of anthropology as a whole, the holder has been trained to do independent research at a professional level of competence in at least one of the major sub-disciplines of anthropology: archaeology, cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, or linguistic anthropology.

View the University’s Academic Requirements for PhD Degrees.

The total course units for graduation in this major is 20. A minimum of 12 course units must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to course requirements, there are language requirements, a written PhD Preliminary Examination ("Comprehensive Exam") and the Final PhD Examination ("Oral Exam") for the PhD.


The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2018 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

Sample Plan of Study

First Year
Core Courses
Contemporary Archaeology in Theory
Evolutionary Anthropology
Language in Culture and Society
Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Culture and Society
Basic Courses in Area of Specialization
Comprehensive Examination (spring)
Second Year
Colloquium Seminar
Specialized courses, seminars, tutorials
Grant writing course
Teaching Assistant
Completion of Language Exam (fall or spring)
Third Year
Completion of course requirements
Apply for dissertation research grants
Oral Examination & submission of Dissertation Proposal
Teaching Assistant
Fourth Year
Dissertation Research
Fifth Year
Dissertation Research, Writing, and Submission
Sixth Year (if necessary)
Dissertation Writing and Submission