PhD Program

Our Program

Washington University's Department of Anthropology has one of the top-rated doctoral programs in the country. It is highly collegial and notable for its strong tradition of close mentoring, its policy of generous funding and its solid record of placing graduates in desirable positions.

Anthropology faculty and graduate students work locally and globally. In archaeology we study emergent social complexity in small-scale societies; social, political, economic, and ritual variability among hunter-gatherers and pastoralists; development of food production; environmental archaeology; and landscape archaeology. We specialize in paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, isotopic analysis, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geoarchaeology, and bioarchaeology. Research strengths in biological anthropology include primate ecology and conservation; primate evolution; biomechanics and energetics; human evolution and diversity; and the study of early modern humans. Resources include labs in biomechanics, human biomarkers, primate genetics, and primate endocrinology. Two of our biological anthropology faculty have primary appointments in the Medical School. Theoretical and topical interests in sociocultural anthropology are diverse and include global health and medical anthropology, environmental anthropology, food studies, science and technology studies, political anthropology, law, and the study of institutions. Sociocultural anthropology students also benefit from intra- institutional collaborations. Our program maintains strong links with the Washington University School of Medicine and we advise MD/PhD students. We also work with Washington University’s Brown School, and students may earn both the PhD and MPH.

Graduate Program

our three sub-disciplines

Archaeology Program

Archaeology faculty and graduate students at Washington University in St. Louis are engaged in active field research across North and South America; East, Southeast, and Central Asia; and Africa. Although our research intersects with many diverse themes and debates within the field of Anthropology, we have notable strengths in the archaeological study of emergent social complexity in small-scale societies; social, political, economic, and ritual variability among hunter-gatherers and pastoralists; development of food production; environmental archaeology; and landscape archaeology.

Find out more about our archaeology program

Biological Anthropology

Research strengths in biological anthropology include primate ecology and conservation, primate evolution, biomechanics and energetics human evolution and diversity and the study of early modern humans.

Find out more about our biological anthropology program

Sociocultural Anthropology

Sociocultural anthropology doctoral students at Washington University enjoy a sense of community and wide range of intellectual offerings. Our theoretical and topical interests are diverse, as reflected by faculty and current students.

find out more about our sociocultural anthropology program

Fully-Funded Program

Financial Support for New & Continuing Students

The Department of Anthropology is committed to providing support so productive students can move through the program in a timely fashion without the distraction of having to hold outside jobs. Students who are admitted to the program are generally funded with tuition remission and a living stipend (University Fellowship) for 4-6 years, assuming continued high academic performance.

Learn more about financial support

Summer Research Support

All anthropology graduate students are eligible for summer support which has historically averaged out to approximately $1000.00 per student. Students traveling for pre-dissertation exploratory research may be eligible for more funds.

Grants and External Support

Washington University doctoral students have an outstanding record of winning external research grants, attesting to both their abilities and the department's tradition of close mentoring. Students are encouraged to begin conceptualizing their dissertation projects early in the program, and courses such as methods seminars and a seminar/workshop in proposal writing further strengthen external funding.

Recent grants

Applying to the Graduate Program

The deadline for applying to the PhD program is December 1 for the following academic year. We are a highly selective department and normally admit three to four students per subfield each year from a competitive pool of U.S. and international applicants.

How to Apply

Why Anthropology at WashU?

Our graduate students are engaged in field research across the world. Learn more about ongoing and recent research in the department.

Recent Dissertations

Dissertation Research Spotlight: Oguz Alyanak

Oguz Alyanak, a PhD candidate with the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, discusses his dissertation research focusing on how and where men in Strasbourg spend their free time.


If you have questions, please reach out to Kirsten Jacobsen.

Email Kirsten Jacobsen