1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Rules and Procedures

Required Courses

  • ANTH 7010 and 7020 ”History of Anthropological Theory I & II“
  • Subfield distribution requirement: 1 course each will be required in the subfields of Archaeology, Linguistics, and Socio-Cultural Anthropology, to be taken over 3 years at a pace of at least one per year (including the student’s own subfield!). These courses should be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Committee in the 1st year and Fall of the 2nd year, and with the student’s committee thereafter. For Linguistics, ANTH 7400 is expected; other options will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Students who enter the program with a previous MA in Anthropology may have one subfield requirement waived on the basis of graduate coursework done elsewhere.

Additional Recommended Core Courses:

  • Methods courses by subfield, ideally to be taken in the 2nd or 3rd year
  • ANTH 7030 (Ethnographic Analysis)
  • ANTH 7060 Proposal Workshop, is recommended in the 3rd year to guide students in writing their department dissertation proposal and grants.

Elective courses

Students’ remaining courses should be electives and independent study (”Directed Readings“) courses that advance their expertise and ability to plan and conduct research in their specific topical and geographical research areas. These courses should be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Committee in the 1st year and Fall of the 2nd year, and with the student’s committee thereafter. During Spring of the 1st year and throughout the 2nd year, it is expected that a significant portion of the student’s coursework will be focused on preparing the MA Reading Essays (described below).

1st Year: First Year Portfolio

During the 1st year of study, each student will prepare a First Year Portfolio consisting of:

  • 1 page cover letter, summarizing the student’s research interests and requesting continuation in either MA or PhD track. Students requesting continuation for the PhD should present their plans for next year’s Critical Reading Essays, including tentatively planned scope of topics, the names of faculty readers, and timetable for completion. Students requesting continuation for the MA only should indicate plans for writing either the Critical Reading Essays or the MA Thesis (see below).
  • 3 course papers (each 5+ pages), unrevised, from 3 UVa classes, student-selected to showcase the substantiveness and quality of the student’s coursework during the year. Portfolios are due April 15 and should be submitted in electronic form to the DGS, who will make them available to the department faculty by posting on a Collab site. They will be read initially by the DGS or other members of the Graduate Committee. Where the quality of a portfolio is in doubt, the whole department faculty will be asked to read it. The faculty will use the portfolio, along with the student’s performance in courses, as a basis for discussion at the May faculty meetings, evaluating the student’s progress.

2nd Year: MA Reading Essays

PhD track students will prepare 2 Critical Reading Essays (each approx. 8,000 words plus bibliography) that should be written in conjunction with formal courses or independent study courses (”Directed Readings“). A description of expectations for the essays is given below.

These reading essays will be read by the student’s committee and the DGS or another faculty member at the DGS’s request. Where the quality of the work is in doubt, the essays will be shared with the wider faculty.

In 2010-11, both essays are due April 15; in future years, one essay is due January 15 and the other on April 15. The essays should be posted on a Collab site for all faculty to access.

The faculty will use the 2 reading review essays, with the student’s performance in courses, as a basis for discussion at the May meetings, evaluating the student’s progress and deciding whether to grant the student (a) the MA degree and (b) PhD candidacy, allowing continuation towards the PhD.

Critical Reading Essays

To lead students to read broadly and deeply in the geographical and thematic areas of their planned dissertation research topic, the main MA and candidacy-qualifying exercise is the preparation of 2 critical reading review essays on the model of Annual Reviews in Anthropology (and the other Annual Reviews series in adjacent fields)

Each essay should be a critical review of the ”state of the field“ in an area of scholarly literature that the student defines in consultation with their committee and other faculty. Ideally, this will be an area of literature to which the student’s dissertation research will contribute. However, it is understood that research plans often change with increased knowledge of the literature, and so it is not crucial that students ”get it right“ in their choice of focus in these essays (so that their work on the essays may be carried forward into their dissertation proposal and research). What is important is building and demonstrating skill in the definition and mastery of bodies of literature.

The 2 essays written should be written over the course of the student’s 1st and 2nd years in the program and include 1 thematic field and 1 geographical field.

Students should build up the bibliographies for their essays in course work and through their reading and writing for the essays themselves. Recent volumes of appropriate journals should be surveyed for relevant articles and reviewed books. While it may be helpful in beginning the process to solicit reading recommendations and syllabi, we would urge students not to overly emphasize the compilation and negotiation of ”reading lists“ as an end in itself.

More than a string of summaries or annotated bibliography, the Critical Reading Essays should digest the field’s literature, synthesizing its major points of departure, major findings, and major debates. The essays should identify recurring difficulties in the field, newly emergent concerns, and the most promising directions for new research.

MA Track

Students in the MA track may choose either of the following options:

  • Write an MA thesis to be evaluated by 2 faculty readers, who will hold a defense by late April>
  • Alternatively, the MA degree may be awarded upon acceptance of 2 Critical Reading Essays by the student’s committee, as in the PhD track.

It is expected that students in the MA track will have completed all coursework and other requirements for their degrees by the end of their 2nd year.

Summer Language Training and Preliminary Research

Each year the Anthropology Department and GSAS Dean’s Office makes available funding for students in the PhD track to do summer language training and preliminary research. Students are generally expected to apply during their 1st year to the GSAS Dean’s Office for Summer Foreign Language Instruction (SFLI) awards, and during their 2nd year to the Anthropology Department for Dissertation Research Feasibility Study (”Pre-field research“) grants.

3rd Year: Proposal and Grants

  • The Proposal Workshop (ANTH 7060), ordinarily taken in the 3rd year, will guide students in writing their department Dissertation Proposals and external research grant applications.
  • Each student is expected to defend the department Dissertation Proposal (also called the research prospectus) in committee by the end of April in their 3rd year. An extension to the 4th year may be granted upon request, on a case-by-case basis.
  • In addition, all students will make a public presentation of their doctoral projects. at a 3rd Year Symposium in March of their 3rd year. This AAA-style panel, with 15-minute presentations and a limited time for questions-and-answers, will not be an evaluated exercise but an opportunity for students to get feedback about their projects from the whole department community in the midst of grant-writing. [Students now in year 3, who had a QA presentation last year, will not be required to have an additional public presentation of their doctoral projects this March (i.e., there will be no 3rd Year Symposium in 2010-2011).]
  • Students whose research involves human subjects are required to gain approval from the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board for the Social and Behavioral Sciences (IRB-SBS) prior to starting the research. An annual IRB Tutorial session guides students in preparing and submitting their IRB Protocols.

Research and Dissertation Years

  • Doctoral research
  • Dissertation writing
  • Dissertation writing groups
  • Dissertation year fellowship applications
  • Presentation of chapter drafts in subfield workshops
  • Professionalization and job seeking
  • Job seekers workshop
  • Postdoctoral fellowship and job applications
  • Conference presentations
  • Publication of book reviews and journal articles
  • Dissertation defense (attended by fellow students and department faculty)

Transition to the New Curriculum

  • Students now in years =3 will continue under previous rules.
  • Students now in year 3, who had a QA presentation last year, will not be required to have an additional public presentation of their doctoral projects this March (i.e., there will be no 3rd Year Symposium in 2010-2011).
  • Students now in year 2 will follow the new curriculum beginning this year and prepare the 2 Critical Reading Essays. It is understood that they were not required to create the First Year Portfolio.
  • If any of the current 2nd year students wish to continue under the previous curriculum, preparing and presenting a QA paper under direction of their committees (but without ANTH 7110), they may do so.
  • Students who entered in Fall 2010 and subsequently follow the new curriculum as outlined above.

Official Description of Anthropology PhD Requirementsas published in the Graduate Record:

The doctorate requires 72 credits at the graduate level, comprising at least 54 of course work (the remaining 18 may be non-topical research), and the successful completion of a dissertation. Students entering with an M.A. degree can transfer up to 24 graduate credits.

The doctoral requirements reflect the department’s commitment to a critical assessment of the history of anthropology, to an integrated approach across the sub-disciplines (socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics), and to a program flexibly shaped to the particular needs and goals of each student.

During their first year, students take two ”common courses“ on the history of anthropological theory; over the course of their program, each student also takes one course in each of the sub-disciplines of socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology. (Students who enter the program with a previous M.A. in Anthropology may have one sub-discipline requirement waived on the basis of graduate coursework completed elsewhere.)

In their second year, students prepare two essays that critically review the ”state of the field“ in two area of scholarly literature relevant to their planned dissertation research topics. Working closely with their advisory committees and other faculty, they define and develop their mastery of these areas in conjunction with graduate seminar courses and individually-designed Directed Readings courses. For those students planning to go on to a Ph.D., the M.A. is awarded upon successful completion of the two essays and applicable course work, as well as demonstrated competency in one foreign language.

In the third year of study, students complete courses and write their dissertation research proposal. The Ph.D. is awarded after students defend their research proposal, conduct their dissertation research, and write and defend a dissertation that makes an original contribution to scholarly knowledge in their chosen topics. Competency in a second foreign language is also required for the Ph.D. (Statistics may be substituted where relevant.)

For students taking the M.A. degree only, 30 credits are required consisting of 24 credits of regular courses and 6 credits of thesis research. M.A. students are asked to take only the first two semesters of ”common courses.“ They must also demonstrate competency in one foreign language and write either two critical reading reviews (like the Ph.D. students) or an M.A. thesis under the guidance of two faculty.