PhD Program Requirements

Universal Department Requirements

MA Degree

Students are expected to receive their MA degree by the end of their second year or fourth semester of full time study.

1. Theory Requirement (472 – Social Theory and Anthropology). All students are required to take Anthropology 472 in their first year.  Under special circumstances this requirement may be delayed or waived by petitioning the entire departmental faculty.

2. Two Subdisciplinary Course requirements.  All students must complete at least one course taught by a faculty member of the anthropology department in each of the two subdisciplines other than their own; Anthropology 472 may satisfy the sociocultural requirement.  Students with good cause to substitute prior extensive coursework in the subdiscipline, especially in the context of a Master’s degree at another university, for one or both of the other subdisciplinary requirements may petition the relevant subdisciplinary faculty to do so. 

3. Courses with Six Faculty.   All graduate students are required to have had courses with at least six different departmental faculty members.  Team-taught courses may count for both faculty members. 

4. Credit Hours.   The anthropology department requires 36 credit hours for the award of an MA degree without thesis; 24 credit hours are required for an MA degree with thesis.

5. Petition for the Award of the Masters Degree.   Once a student has completed all requirements for the MA degree, the student and his or her adviser submit a petition to the chair; the chair circulates the petition to the entire faculty and forwards it to the graduate school.  This petition should include documentation of satisfactory completion of all the graduate school requirements (including cumulative credits, thesis if one was done, and grade point average), the three requirements listed above (1-4), as well as any special requirements set by the student’s subdiscipline (see the relevant subdisciplinary document).  Sample petitions are available in the academic coordinator’s office.

PhD Degree

All MA degree requirements are also requirements for doctoral candidacy whether the student actually receives the MA degree or not.  Continuation for the PhD involves being advanced to doctoral candidacy.

Students are expected to complete the degree in six years.

Proposal defenses and admission to doctoral candidacy are expected by the end of the third year. At this time students should have completed all the PhD requirements except for the dissertation.

1. Student-Specific Requirements for Doctoral Candidacy.   Students may be asked by their committees to fulfill additional requirements, directly relevant to their doctoral dissertation research, prior to admission to candidacy.  These may include a foreign language or specialized training outside of the Anthropology Department in other areas such as statistics, computer programming, or laboratory techniques.  Students will be formally notified by their committees of such additional requirements.

2. Defense of the Doctoral Proposal.   All students must defend a doctoral proposal prior to admission to PhD candidacy.  Proposals must be defended before a faculty committee consisting of a minimum of three full-time tenured or tenure track members of the anthropology faculty.

3. Petition for Admission to Doctoral Candidacy.    Once a student’s doctoral proposal has been successfully defended and all other requirements set by the graduate school, anthropology department, subdiscipline, and the student’s committee have been met, the student and adviser should submit a petition to the chair for advancement to candidacy; the chair will then inform the entire faculty and forward the petition to the graduate school.  Petitions should be in the form of a memorandum explaining how all of the requirements were satisfied.  Sample petitions are available in the academic coordinator’s office. At the end of the third-year students must also file a Title, Scope and Procedure of Dissertation form.

4. Teaching Requirement. As part of the training and professionalization of graduate students in Anthropology, the Department requires all students to participate in a minimum of FIVE Mentored Teaching Experiences. All students participating in the MTE are required to attend the Teaching Orientation offered by the WUSTL Teaching Center. All teaching for the MTE must be done in the Anthropology Department.

The following schedule is offered as a guide for attaining the minimum requirements for the MTE:

  • Yr. 1: No MTE
  • Yr. 2: MTE/MTE
  • Yr. 3: MTE/MTE
    - 5th MTE in summer school, University College, or during years 4-6 -- see below
  •  Yr. 4: Fieldwork
  •  Yr. 5: MTE if appropriate/opportunities for independent teaching
  • Yr. 6: MTE if appropriate/opportunities for independent teaching

The Departmental no longer requires that students teach a course independently.

Those students who are interested in gaining further teaching experience are encouraged to apply for the opportunity to teach as the instructor-of-record. The fifth MTE may be obtained by teaching a Summer School or University College course. However, because the Department does not control these course offerings we cannot guarantee that a graduate student can teach an independent course at Washington University. A minimum of THREE MTE’s must be successfully accomplished before a student may teach independently at Washington University. Note: Teaching in University College or Summer School AS PART OF THE MTE will not be compensated above or beyond what a students receives for the graduate school stipend. The reason for this is that the university makes a distinction between a student’s education—and the MTE is part of a graduate student’s education—and “work,” which is covered under part-time instructor status. 

5. The Doctoral Dissertation.  The doctoral dissertation must constitute an integrated, coherent original work, whose parts are logically connected to each other.  Normally, the doctoral dissertation consists of a sequence of integrated chapters that introduce the dissertation research, provide the background and the methods for the research, present and interpret the results, and then tie the various portions of the dissertation together in a concluding chapter, with appropriate citations. 

In this context, it may be appropriate for the dissertation to consist in part of research articles that have been written (and may be published) by the graduate student during the course of the doctoral research.  Whether this dissertation format is appropriate for a given dissertation (within a subfield that accepts such a dissertation) needs to be determined a priori by the student and her/his doctoral committee.  Should it be deemed appropriate, it must have an introductory chapter that provides the theme and core questions of the dissertation research and that explains the relationship(s) between the constituent chapters and parts, and it must also have a concluding chapter that brings together the information and ideas expressed in the thesis, relates them to the introduction, and shows how they constitute a coherent whole.  (See Minimal requirements for dissertations for the GSAS requirements regarding a dissertation that includes previously written materials.)

Evaluation of Students

Student progress is monitored by the entire faculty in the first and second years. 

1. First Year Evaluation of All Students.   At the end of each student’s first year in the program, the faculty will complete a formal evaluation of their progress and status in the program.  This will be based upon the student’s performance in courses (including testimonials of faculty, grades, and written course evaluations), their writing skills, their ability to complete work in a timely fashion, and their potential for independent scholarly research.  All students will be notified in writing of the outcomes of the evaluation.  Students who show good prospects for the PhD program will be informed that they are making good progress in the program and are encouraged to continue.  Students about whom there are some doubts as to their potential for the PhD program will be advised that the second year is a critical training period for them to demonstrate that they will be able to perform at the PhD level. In cases where continued work towards a PhD is not encouraged, department procedures for academic probation and dismissal will be followed (these are detailed below). The intent of the first year evaluation is to keep students as informed as possible of their current status in the program and thus reduce any ambiguity and anxiety regarding their performance. The faculty also believe that students’ best interests are served by knowing as early as possible about any academic difficulties.

2. Second Year Evaluation of All Students.   Passing the second year evaluation is a graduate school requirement for third year funding.  The department also takes the opportunity at this time to assess each student’s performance at this point in their careers when they typically are making the shift from classroom student to researcher.  The second year review involves discussion of each student in a faculty meeting, and a review of the student’s research interests.  The student’s written work is reviewed by his/her adviser and proposal committee following subdisciplinary requirements. Feedback about the review is provided to the student by the academic adviser.

3. From the beginning of the third year a student’s progress is evaluated by their committee, which will always consist of a minimum of three full-time tenured or tenure-track members of the anthropology faculty.  This committee has authority to set specific PhD candidacy requirements for the student. The committee also recommends to the chair that a student be advanced to PhD candidacy.  Students who cannot identify three faculty members who are willing to serve on their committees are not considered to be making satisfactory academic progress.

4. Changing Academic Advisers and Committees.   Students may change advisors and committee members at any time in their graduate career by finding new faculty members willing to take on such duties and by informing the chair of the department in writing.  Any faculty member who opposes such changes may raise objections with the faculty committee responsible for the oversight of the status and progress of students.

5. Timely Progress to Degree.  Students who are beyond the fourth semester and who have not yet received their MA degree, those beyond the sixth semester who have not been admitted to doctoral candidacy, and those beyond their sixth year since matriculation will be asked to document their recent progress toward their degree and their plans for the coming year.  Students requesting formal leaves of absence will be asked to do so during these reviews.  A faculty committee appointed by the chair and composed of members of each sub-discipline will review these proposals and make recommendations to the chair and graduate school regarding leaves of absence and formal extensions of the Graduate School’s four year rule for completion of masters degrees and seven year rule for completion of PhD’s.  For further details on these time limits, please see the sections of  the General Requirements for Masters and Doctoral degrees in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bulletin online. Department procedures for evaluation of academic performance are described above and in subdisciplinary requirements.

Procedures for Academic Probation and Dismissal

The following describes how the department implements The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Policy on Probation and Dismissal for Academic Reasons

Academic performance of all PhD students is reviewed on an annual basis by  department faculty. The Department has designated the Graduate Advisory Committee (the Committee of Three) to manage decisions regarding placement on probation, removal from probation, recommendations for dismissal after a probationary period, and recommendations for immediate dismissal due to extreme underperformance.

This Committee is chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies and includes two other faculty members, with a representative from each of the sub-disciplines, Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Sociocultural Anthropology.  If it is determined by a vote of the majority of the Graduate Advisory Committee that the student is not satisfactorily meeting the academic requirements of the Program based on the above criteria, the Graduate Advisory Committee will consider whether the student should be placed on probation or if extreme underperformance warrants immediate dismissal from the Program, in accordance with the GSAS Policy on Probation and Dismissal for Academic Reasons.  Normally, a probationary period would be no less than three months and, where probation criteria involve coursework, the probationary period will normally consist of one semester.  However, there may be circumstances in which a student may be placed on probation for less than three months. 

The student will be notified of the Graduate Advisory Committee decision in writing, including an explanation of academic performance issues leading to probation or immediate dismissal and, if applicable, any requirements for what must be done within a specified period of time during the probationary period in order for the student to return to good standing.  The written probation letter should generally be accompanied by the opportunity for the student to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies or designated departmental faculty representatives for clarifying discussion(s), and copied to the Dean of GSAS.

All students on probationary status will be reviewed by Graduate Advisory Committee after each semester to determine whether the student should be (a) removed from probation and returned to good standing; (b) continued on probation; or (c) dismissed from the program. 

The student will be notified of the decision of the Graduate Advisory Committee in writing.

If a student is dismissed from the program, the student will be notified in writing and will have the opportunity to appeal such dismissal in accordance with the GSAS Policy on Probation and Dismissal.