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Program Summary

Emory’s graduate program in anthropology encourages a diversity of research agendas across the three subdisciplines of archaeology, biological anthropology and socio-cultural anthropology. The program balances rigorous coursework with a tutorial approach to advanced subjects and is designed to be intense and demanding for faculty and students alike.

The core program consists of a series of courses and seminars that provide students with advanced training in the broad field of anthropology, including a proseminar that engages critically with work of the faculty across the three subdisciplines.

As a whole, the educational program provides students with a graduate-level grounding in anthropology that is sophisticated and unique. Specialization within cultural or biological sub-fields is encouraged, as well as combinations and creative dialogues between them. Components of the program are outlined below.


First Year

  • Student in Residence
  • Begin Coursework
  • Participate in Teaching Roundtables and Department Events (speaker series, socials, etc.)
  • Summer Language/Laboratory Training or Pilot Research (optional, at end of either first or second year)

Second Year

  • Student in Residence
  • Continue Coursework
  • Complete Teaching Assistantship/Associateship 
  • Submit Methodology Requirements Proposal
  • Establish Qualifying Exams Committee
  • Participate in Teaching Roundtables and Department Events (speaker series, socials, etc.)
  • Summer Pilot Research (optional, at end of either first or second year)

Third Year

  • Student in Residence
  • Continue Coursework (if needed)
  • Apply for Research Grants & Fellowships
  • Complete Teaching Associateship (second and possibly third teaching requirement)
  • Prepare For and Complete Qualifying Examination
  • Complete Methodology Requirements
  • Participate in Teaching Roundtables and Department Events (speaker series, socials, etc.)
  • Research Proposal Presentation
  • Advance to Candidacy

Fourth Year

Fifth Year and Beyond

  • Continue Fieldwork/Laboratory Research


  • Return from Fieldwork and Begin Dissertation Write Up (In Residence)
  • Complete Co-Teach/Solo teaching assignment
  • Participate in Post-Field Seminars
  • Participate in Teaching Roundtables and Department Events (speaker series, socials, etc.)
  • Apply for advanced student fellowships (optional)

Final Year

  • Complete Dissertation
  • Schedule Dissertation events (public presentation and committee defense)
  • Participate in Post-Field Seminars
  • Participate in Teaching Roundtables and Department Events (speaker series, socials, etc.)

Components of the Program

Requirements include three core courses and three additional Anthropology elective core courses. Individual courses of study will be designed in consultation with the student's advisor. Some courses may be taken in other departments. In addition to meeting department course requirements, students must complete coursework in accordance with candidacy requirements of the Graduate School.

Three core courses:

  • ANT 500 Pro-seminar
  • ANT 501 History of Anthropological Thought
  • ANT 503 Evolutionary Processes

Three additional Anthropology electives:

  • At least one course must be in biological
  • At least one course must be in cultural

Biological Anthropology Research Seminar

Graduate students specializing in Biological Anthropology are required to enroll in a 1-credit Research Seminar in Biological Anthropology (ANT 555) each semester of their first three years in the program.

Methodology Requirement

Students must fulfill a methodology requirement. Criteria for fulfilling the requirement will be established by the student in coordination with their advisor. The requirement may, for instance, stipulate research methods, ethnographic writing, language training, statistics courses, or training in laboratory techniques.

Prospective applicants can browse offered courses on the Emory University Course Atlas.

The faculty members of the Department of Anthropology conduct an annual review of all graduate students in the program. Prior to the review, students update their tracking document and submit an annual activity report. The review takes place in mid-May. This is an important time for faculty to also celebrate the students for their achievements, such as publications, grants or awards. After the meeting, the Director of Graduate Studies prepares a brief letter for each student, informing the student of the faculty's view of academic and professional progress and, if necessary, outlining any concerns.

The department places high priority on preparing students' doctoral research proposals, both to further students' education and to maximize the chances of obtaining extramural funding for dissertation research. Students work with their advisor to develop framework for their dissertation proposal, generally starting in the second year. Students refine their funding proposals and present them formally to the department in Spring of the third year. With the input received from the department, students finalize their plans and set off for the field... or lab!

Funding for fieldwork may come from a variety of sources. See external funding list.

Assisting and teaching one's own class provides invaluable experience and an important professional credential. Students complete three assistantships before candidacy and will co-teach or teach a class solo before defending their dissertation. 

Read more about Laney Graduate School's TATTO Program.

A student's primary supervisor is the faculty member most directly concerned with the student's scholarly aims and typically becomes the committee chair (if research aims change, another chair may be chosen). The committee will supervise the development of dissertation research. The committee must contain three members: three must qualify as Emory Graduate School faculty, two must be Emory Anthropology faculty. Additional members may be included from outside the University. The student will meet with the committee at regular intervals.

By the end of the second year, the student selects a chair and two or more additional members to serve as an exam committee in order to qualify the student for candidacy. This committee is generally maintained and established as the student's dissertation committee.

Students must pass an exam that qualifies them for doctoral candidacy. Students work together with faculty to develop the questions and structure of the exam in an effort to best demonstrate the student's expertise. Students choose specialty areas as the focus of the written portion. Normally, these areas will be identified by the end of the second year and exams will be completed in the Spring of the third year. Following the written portion, students will meet with the committee for an oral exam after which the committee will deliberate and the student will receive a grade: High Pass, Pass, Fail.

Students must advance to candidacy by September 15th of their 4th year in the program in order to remain eligible for a stipend and tuition scholarship. To apply for candidacy, the student must have met the following:

  • Completed coursework 
  • Passed qualifying examinations
  • Received approval for dissertation research proposal and have preliminary title
  • Fulfilled methodology requirements
  • Completed initial teaching requirements
  • Resolved any incomplete grades
  • Apply for Candidacy with the Laney Graduate School

After completing coursework, refining the research proposal, submitting grant applications and reaching candidacy, students undertake a period of field or laboratory research. Depending on the type of research to be completed, students may be conducting fieldwork abroad or may be researching in an Emory laboratory. Regardless of the research environment, it is important for the student to remain in close contact with the advisor and other committee members.

After completing fieldwork or laboratory research, students are expected to be in residence for dissertation write-up. During the post-field period, students complete the final teaching requirement (co-teaching a course) and participate in department seminars. They are also encouraged to attend department talks, social events and colloquia with other graduate students and faculty in order to benefit from and enrich the intellectual and communal life of the department.

Students may apply for advanced student fellowships through the Graduate School.

Upon completion of the final draft of the dissertation, and with the committee's approval, the student will schedule a public presentation of the research and a private oral defense with the committee. 

Note: Not every student will follow the typical timeline. Individual time spent in field research or laboratory research may vary.