The Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington recognizes three principal sub-fields of anthropology into which its graduate programs are divided: archaeology, biocultural anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. The department has a concurrent MPH/PhD degree program with the departments of Epidemiology and Health Services. The MA degree can be earned ONLY within a PhD program as a thesis or non-thesis degree. Graduate Non-Matriculated (GNM) status, is recognized by the anthropology department, however, there is a separate application process for applicants seeking GNM status.

Archaeology and Biocultural Anthropology admissions will be run every year, however, Sociocultural Anthropology has moved to an "every other year" model admitting students in the odd numbered year. Next admission cycle for Sociocultural Anthropology will be for Autumn 2017 (apply in December 2016).


Applicants may apply for and be admitted for autumn quarter only. Applicants admitted to a particular program may not "defer" their offer of admission and must reapply to the program for consideration in a subsequent year. 

Offers of admission are usually mailed prior to the first of March. Those receiving offers of admission should respond as quickly as possible and certainly by April 15; those failing to do so risk losing their place in the entering class.

Applicants are considered on the basis of academic ability, career motivation, and promise for achieving professional competence associated with the PhD, with interests and goals that fit with departmental programs and faculty interests. It is recommended that the applicant complete an undergraduate program appropriate for graduate work in anthropology, but a BA in anthropology is not specifically required. All applicants are required to take the GRE. In addition to the GRE, applicants from non-English speaking countries are required to demonstrate proficiency in English (see Graduate School Memo #8). The Graduate School requires a minimum grade point average of B (or 3.0 on a 4.0 scale) for the last 90 quarter credits (60 semester credits) of completed course work. 


The application deadline is December 15 if applicants wish to be assured of being considered for applicable fellowships. Only complete applications will be reviewed. Complete online applications to Graduate Admissions includes:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Official Graduate Record Examination scores (GRE) taken within the last five years
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language scores (TOEFL) taken within the last two years or equivalent (for international applicants only)
  • Statement of Financial Ability Form (for international applicants only)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Curriuculum Vita
  • Unofficial transcipts from all institutions attended

Applicants will be notified by e-mail if materials are missing and when all application materials have been received.

Tuition and Residency Status

The approximate cost of one year for a full-time, first-year, non-resident/international student (2016-17) is $48,948. This figure includes the cost of tuition ($28,326) and estimated books and living expenses for one year (not including summer). Expenses are subject to change without notice. International students cannot be admitted unless proof of funding is submitted. The Graduate School posts projected expenses for international students on their web site.

The approximate cost of one year for a full-time, first-year resident student (2016-17) is $36,900. This figure includes the cost of tuition ($16,278) and estimated books and living expenses for one year (not including summer). Expenses are subject to change without notice and can be found on the Office of Planning and Budgeting webpage. US Citizens who are not residents of the State of Washington will have an opportunity to apply for residency status from the Washington State Residency Office after residing in the state for at least 12 months.

Depending upon subdiscipline, length of field studies, personal and professional factors, etc., it can take anywhere from 5-10 years to complete our PhD programs.

Diversity within the Department of Anthropology

The Department of Anthropology, in keeping with our disciplinary mission, has long attempted to diversify the composition of our graduate students. We recognize that diversity – whether defined as cultural, racial/ethnic, national, socio-demographic, gender/sexuality, religious, linguistic, age or ability – enriches the process of discovery by engendering multiple modes of thinking about problems and communicating ideas.

Given that anthropology as a discipline will only remain relevant to the world if it includes and trains practitioners from diverse backgrounds, the UW Department of Anthropology is committed to developing a more diverse faculty, staff and student body in order to better achieve our departmental, institutional and discipline-related goals of research, teaching, community service and social justice. View the Anthropology Diversity Mission Statement.

We have benefited from support from the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program in pursuit of this goal. In order to attract strong students to our graduate programs, the department has actively recruited during the national meetings of the major anthropological societies - the American Anthropological Association, the Native American Relations and Native American Scholarship Committees of the Society for American Archeology, the Alaska Anthropological Association, and the Association of American Physical Anthropologists. Additionally we have taken steps to follow-up on names submitted to us by Graduate Opportunities for Minority Achievement Program as part of the University Name Exchange Program. We also recruit with the Olson Fellowship which is funded by a bequest to the department by the Olson family. The bequest stipulates that members of North American Native tribes be given the highest priority.

Opportunities for PhDs In Anthropology

An increasing number of PhDs in anthropology have been finding employment in areas other than teaching, such as government work and private industry. Many students combine anthropology studies with medicine, political science, law and/or other fields with specific job goals in mind. For further information about employment opportunities, the department recommends recent issues of The American Anthropological Association (AAA) Newsletter, which publishes periodic reports and profiles on this topic.
AAA website: