Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Program

My recommender is unable to upload the form and letter of recommendation online. Can it be faxed or mailed to the department?

Letters cannot be emailed or faxed; they will be rejected. If the recommender has difficulty with the electronic application and the requirements for submission of the letter(s) of recommendation, please contact the Student Services Officer directly via email or telephone at selleck [at] or 650-723-4641 in order to make other arrangements to submit the letter.

What are the requirements acceptance into the Coterminal M.A. program?

All Stanford University undergraduate majors are eligible to apply for the coterminal master’s degree program with a 3.5 GPA in their department major, a 3.0 GPA in overall coursework, and with no more than one Incomplete listed on the transcript at the time of application. The Coterminal M.A. degree program allows Stanford undergraduates to study for a master’s degree while completing their bachelor’s degree(s) in the same or different department. Undergraduates with strong academic records may apply for admission to a coterminal master’s program upon completion of 120 units but no later than the quarter prior to the expected completion of the undergraduate degree. Full-time enrollment during Summer Quarters, as well as allowable undergraduate transfer credit, are also counted towards quarters of undergraduate study.

For more detailed information regarding Stanford’s Coterminal M.A. requirements, please visit:

How long does it take to get a PhD in Anthropology at Stanford?

The Ph.D. program allows the student to develop a flexible program reflecting special research interests, under the supervision of a faculty committee chosen by the student. Students are encouraged to plan for completion of all work for the Ph.D. in five years.

Ph.D. students in Anthropology must complete a minimum of 135 quarter units with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B). The maximum allowable number of transfer units is 45.
The typical time to degree is approximately 6 years, although it is quite possible to complete all the requirements in 5 years. A typical schedule is as follows:

For additional information please see the Stanford University Bulletin and the department graduate program webpage.

  • Years 1 and 2 – coursework and teaching assistance,
  • Year 3 – qualifying exams and research proposal,
  • Year 4 – approved dissertation research, typically in the field,
  • Years 5 and 6 – research, analysis, data collection, write-up, teaching assistance and oral examination – Dissertation defense.
Are there different tracks of specialization within the graduate program in Anthropology?

Culture and Society, and Archaeology are the two tracks of specialization in the doctoral program. Within these tracks, students may explore a range of fields of study including medical anthropology and ecological and environmental anthropology. Examples of the varying faculty and student areas of study can be found in their respective profiles online. Although, the tracks are informal and at the department-level, only, they are an important way for the department to identify the student’s developing research.

How can I find out about faculty research and faculty contact information?

The department faculty and their research interests are listed online at Anthropology Faculty. Current PhD students in the Department of Anthropology may be contacted by visiting Anthropology Graduate Students.

How can I find out about graduate student research and graduate student contact information?

Current PhD students in the Department of Anthropology may be contacted by visiting Anthropology Graduate Students.

What is the language requirement for the PhD in Anthropology?

PhD students must submit a plan for oral and reading proficiency for successful scholarship in a given field by the end of spring quarter of their Second Year. The chosen language may be related to field research or scholarly work.

What is the teaching requirement for the PhD in Anthropology?

The department requires one quarter of Teaching Assistantship in the Second Year and one or more quarters of Teaching Assistantship in the Second through the Fifth Years. The department requires students in the Second Year cohort to attend a Teaching Assistantship Training workshop at the beginning of the academic year.

If I have prior graduate work, can it be transferred into the PhD program? Will this accelerate my doctoral degree program?

After at least one quarter of enrollment in the first year, students pursuing a PhD may apply for transfer credit for up to 45 units of graduate work done at another institution. Doing so will not necessarily escalated the time to degree completion.

If I have prior graduate work, can it be transferred into the Coterminal MA program in Anthropology?

After accepting admission to this coterminal master’s degree program, students may request transfer of courses from the undergraduate to the graduate career to satisfy requirements for the master’s degree. Transfer of courses to the graduate career requires review and approval of both the undergraduate and graduate programs on a case by case basis.

Courses taken two quarters prior to the first graduate quarter, or later, are eligible for consideration for transfer to the graduate career. No courses taken prior to the first quarter of the sophomore year may be used to meet master’s degree requirements.

Course transfers are not possible after the bachelor’s degree has been conferred. Please be advised that admitted students must have at least one quarter of overlap with both the undergraduate and graduate careers prior to conferral of the undergraduate degree.

Do I have to have an MA or other graduate work before I apply to the PhD program?

No, applicants to the PhD program are not required to have an MA before applying to the PhD program. Less than one third of an entering PhD cohort will have obtained a masters degree.

My most recent degree is not from an anthropology program. Will this adversely affect my graduate application?

No, applicants are not required to have an Anthropology background. However, a background in the behavioral/ and or social sciences would be expected. In addition, the applicant would be expected to have a foundation in social science theory and the ability to do analysis in the social sciences.

How can I obtain more information from the Anthropology Department regarding my interest in graduate studies?

Please refer to the University BulletinDepartment website, and Registrars Office of Graduate Admissions website for more information. Contact information for graduate students including a description of their topic and area(s) of interest is also available at the Department website under Graduate Students.

Is funding offered to PhD students in Anthropology?

The Department of Anthropology offers five years of graduate funding (based on the availability of funds) for the PhD program, through a combination of fellowships and assistantships, covering full tuition and a living stipend. The fellowships are usually given for five consecutive years of graduate study. 

Is there a difference between department funding support and financial aid?

Although, departmental funding support is sometimes referred to as ‘Financial Aid’ this funding is distinct from federal or other funding sources that an individual student may apply for through the Financial Aid office of Stanford University. Department funding support for PhD students is funding provided from the School of Humanities and Sciences by way of the Department for the purpose of supporting the PhD student’s tuition, living expenses, as well academic and research expenses throughout the PhD degree program.

Is Stanford on a quarter or semester system?

Stanford is on the Quarter system. For more information about Stanford’s schedule, please go to the Stanford Academic Calendar published by the Office of the Registrar.

Where can I find out more information about course offerings in Anthropology?

Information about current Anthropology course offerings can be found on our Department website under Courses and in Stanford Bulletin Explore Courses.

Where can I find information about graduate degrees in Anthropology?

For information about the department’s Graduate degree programs, please review the information located on the Department webpages.

Where can I find information about graduate housing at Stanford University?

Information about campus housing for graduate students can be found on Stanford’s Student Housing website.

Where can I find information about the estimated cost of living at Stanford University?

Information about the estimated cost of living at Stanford as a graduate student can be found on The Student Budget website. Remember that this is only an estimate and actual expenses may be different.

Does Stanford offer grant and loan opportunities to graduate students?

Information about sources of Graduate student funding can be found at the Vice Provost for Graduate Education webpages

What is the annual cost of attending your program?

The tuition and fees information for the current academic year are located at the University Registrar webpages

Are there funding opportunities appropriate for application by a graduate applicant before admission to a graduate program?

Please review the information detailed on the department webpages

Graduate Application Materials

Do I need to take the GRE?

No, the GRE test scores are no longer required for graduate admission beginning September 2018. 

Is there an additional or separate process to apply for department funding or for financial aid?

No, the graduate application for admission to the PhD degree program includes the request for Department funding if accepted to the degree program.

I am an International applicant who speaks and reads English. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

The TOEFL test score(s) are required for all applicants to the PhD degree program whose first language is not English. For more information, please go to

Which of my transcripts am I required to include with my graduate application either by .pdf file upload or by paper copy mailing or delivery?

The electronic application requires uploaded copies (.pdf) of transcripts from each postsecondary institution attended for one or more years as a full-time student (Summer transcripts are not required).

Please do not submit official copies of transcripts with the Graduate Application submission by the published deadline. After the published deadline, the department will proceed with an evaluation of the application materials based on the uploaded, unofficial scanned transcript copy(s).

Official transcript(s) will be required only after the applicant accepts an offer of admission. At that time, the applicant may send the transcripts directly to Graduate Admissions.

Acceptable delivery methods are listed at 

If the UG degree has not yet been conferred, the incoming student should wait until degree conferral is indicated on the documents before it is sent. 

Once received, the department will upload the official transcripts to the admission system of record. Records that do not match may result in revocation of admission offers.

Graduate Admissions will review to verify transcripts are official and that UG degrees have been conferred. 

More information can be found on the Graduate Admissions website located at

Are there guidelines for the Statement of Purpose?

The Statement of Purpose is an important part of application. The graduate admissions committee is primarily concerned with information regarding the applicant’s stated research interests. Applicants should describe in the statement of purpose the following information:

- reason for applying to the proposed graduate program at Stanford University
- preparation for the field of study, research and study interests
- future career plans and other aspects including background and interests which may aid the graduate admission committee in evaluating applicant aptitude and motivation for graduate study

Generally, a shorter Statement of Purpose, clearly written, is better than a longer statement. The maximum recommended length is 1,000 words

The statement of purpose must be in keeping with the spirit of Stanford University's student honor code and representative of the applicant’s own work.

What kind of Writing Sample should I submit with my application?

An appropriate writing sample is comparable to an applicant’s Senior Paper, Honors or Master's Thesis, a published paper, or a comparable written work giving evidence of both writing ability and the capacity for research, analysis, and original thought at the graduate level, demonstrating the ability to use theory in relation to evidence. A short, effectively written sample is preferable to a longer sample and may be no more than 10 pages in length. Papers originally written in a language other than English must be submitted in English translation.

The writing sample must be in keeping with the spirit of Stanford University's student honor code and representative of the applicant’s own work.

May I send more than the required number of letters of recommendation? Will this enhance my chances of being offered admission?

Three letters of recommendation are required, only. It is not the quantity of letters, rather it is the quality of the letters that supports the graduate application. At least one recommender should be a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student (unless you have been out of school for more than five years). Substitutions for faculty recommenders may include work associates or others who can comment on the applicant’s academic potential for graduate work. 

Additional considerations for Coterminal M.A. applicants: Two letters should come from  Anthropology faculty members. Third letter can come from an academic advisor and may be from outside Anthropology.

How are letters of recommendation submitted for the Graduate Application?

Letters must be submitted using the electronic application. As part of the online application, the applicant will be required to register the names and contact information, including e-mail addresses, of each recommender. Recommenders will then receive an e-mail with directions on how to proceed. For additional information, please go to Letters should be received by the published deadline.

How does my recommender upload my letter of recommendation to the graduate application?

The electronic application and web-based recommendation submission process does not accommodate applicant recommendation via a letter service (i.e. Interfolio or other service). Letters of recommendation are submitted online, by the recommender. The recommender’s email address is used as the contact. Once the recommender’s email address has been provided in the electronic application, an email message is sent to the recommender with instructions on setting up the recommender account and submitting the recommendation, electronically.

The process of making a recommendation includes submissions of an electronic form in which the recommender answers questions about the qualifications of the application (i.e. how long the recommender has been teaching and the approximate number of students the recommender has taught), and ranking the recommender gives to the applicant compared to all others taught at that level. Due to the electronic application recommendation process, a letter service is not applicable and would not function. Applicants should contact their recommenders notifying them in advance that they will be receiving an email message asking them to submit a letter of recommendation.

Graduate Application Process

Am I eligible to apply for the PhD program in Anthropology?

You are eligible for admission to graduate programs at Stanford as long as you have either completed a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association; or completed an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing.

Can I apply for winter, spring, or summer quarter admission?

No, applications will be submitted during autumn quarter for matriculation in the following autumn quarter/in the following academic year (e.g. apply in autumn for matriculation in autumn of the following academic year).

Can I apply to more than one department, center or program at Stanford University?

You may apply to only one degree program per academic year; however, you may only apply concurrently to one departmental program and to a professional school program (law, medicine or business). Please refer to

Can my application to the PhD program be considered for the MA program if my PhD application is not successful?

The Department of Anthropology does not offer this option. Students should apply directly to the PhD degree program in Anthropology. Current PhD students, either in the Department of Anthropology or at another PhD program within Stanford, can request to fulfill the M.A. degree requirements on the way to the PhD degree. The Department of Anthropology does not offer a terminal M.A. to non-Stanford students.

Can I obtain a fee waiver or fee reimbursement from Stanford University?

Stanford University offers several fee reduction programs. For additional information on this University policy, please see

The Department of Anthropology does not offer a fee waiver.

Should I arrange to visit the campus or meet with the department faculty before submitting my application?

Applicants are welcome to tour the department and to make an appointment to meet with the Student Services Officer.

Those applicants who wish to tour the campus to learn more about the University should contact the Visitor’s Center

May I send supplemental materials to my electronic application?

Yes, please upload all application articles directly to the online application.

May I send in supplemental materials before I submit my online application?

Please upload all application articles directly to the online application. 

I am interested in applying for a FLAS, Fulbright or NSF fellowship at the time I submit m,y application to the graduate program. How can I find out more about these extramural funding opportunities?

Please review the information detailed on the department webpages

What is the Graduate Admission policy on representation and authenticity?

The department’s offer of admission is based on the student’s representation of accurate information in the graduate application. A degree in process and pending completion must be completed by the graduate applicant. The Registrar office of Graduate Admission policy on representation and authenticity is listed at the Stanford Right of Verification policy located at

Who evaluates my graduate application, and what is the process of evaluation?

Applications are reviewed holistically to assess their promise for teaching and research careers. Greater emphasis may be placed on the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. Faculty from the Department of Anthropology represent the department’s Graduate Admissions Committee each year – usually about six faculty, with two faculty from each of the department tracks.

How long is the evaluation process and when can I expect to receive information on the status of my graduate application to the Department of Anthropology? How will I be notified?

Decisions and notifications are usually made by mid-March and sent electronically via an email prompt by way of the ApplyYourself applicant profile. Please do not call the Department of Anthropology to inquire about the status of your application. The application status for materials received can be checked via the applicant’s web-based account.

How selective is the admissions process?

Each year, the Department of Anthropology receives many competitive applications to the PhD program for very few funded openings. As with the PhD program, the department also receives many competitive applications to the Coterminal MA program for very few non-funded openings.

If I am not offered admission to the graduate program in Anthropology, may I reapply?

You may (re)apply to a particular degree program in a subsequent application season. Regardless of a first-time application or a (re) application, the prospective applicant is required to submit an on-line application by the published deadline and pay the application fee for each application submitted.

If I receive a rejection letter, may I ask the department for more information regarding the department’s decision process and their evaluation of my application?

The department is not able to provide specific information related to individual applications. The admissions decisions have been based on an assessment of the qualifications of the applicant relative to the unique applicant pool in a given admissions season.

Is it possible to defer admission into the graduate program in Anthropology if there is a circumstance in which I am unable to begin the graduate program in the following autumn quarter?

No, the department does not allow deferral of admission.