1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Prospective Graduate Students

We have designed a Ph.D. program that encourages an intense engagement with the historical, theoretical, and ethnographic literature of the student's chosen sub-discipline as well as a broad familiarity with, and conversation across, the three sub-disciplines represented in the department. While the program is rigorous, it is also streamlined and flexibly shaped to the particular needs and goals of each student. Although our intent is primarily to produce students with a Ph.D. in one of the subdisciplines, we will consider students only desiring to earn an MA degree with the idea that they can use their exposure to our program to add to their existing career plans.

A Ph.D. at the University of Virginia requires 54 hours of course work plus 18 hours of dissertation research. Full-time graduate students generally take three or four courses a semester and can complete all Ph.D. course work within two and a half or three years. We expect students to be doing dissertation research, usually away from the University, by the beginning of their fourth year. Although most of our students take courses full-time, we are willing to work with part-time students who wish to schedule a reduced load of course work.

The first set of requirements consists of the "commons courses"-a series of 5 courses to be taken by the end of the fourth semester. Anthropology 701 provides an overview of the history of anthropology; Anthropology 702 focuses upon contemporary anthropological theory; and Anthropology 703 concentrates upon a critical reading of ethnographic, archaeological, and linguistic monographs. A course in archaeological anthropology (Anthropology 708 or 781) and a course in linguistic anthropology (Anthropology 740) complete the series of "commons courses." The second requirement, the Qualifying Assignment, which is fulfilled in the fourth semester, consists of a presentation before the faculty and other graduate students. Often it departs from already completed course work and should move the student towards a dissertation proposal. For those students planning to go on to their Ph.D., the M.A. is awarded upon the successful completion of four semesters of course work and the Qualifying Assignment, as well as demonstrated competency in one foreign language.

With the help of a now expired National Science Foundation grant, the Department instituted an optional sequence of courses intended to help socio-cultural and linguistics students design methodologies appropriate to the particular circumstances of their research. This sequence includes a course on Research Design and Methods, in which a pilot research project is designed; a summer of research during which the pilot project is carried out; a follow-up course, Ethnographic Data Analysis and Writing, in which the project's research design and methodology is reevaluated in light of actual research experience; and a Grant Writing course in which research proposals are written for submission to granting institutions.

Students will complete courses and begin work towards a Ph.D. proposal in the third year of study. By the end of the third year it is expected that students will have defended a Ph.D. proposal within the Department. Competency in a second foreign language is required for the Ph.D. (statistics may be substituted where relevant).

Students entering with an M.A. degree will usually be able to transfer up to 24 credit hours of graduate credit. They can petition the departmental graduate committee for waiver of certain course distribution requirements if equivalent graduate courses have been completed at another university. Students with M.A.s are required to take the commons courses and defend a paper presentation (as described above).

The M.A. Program and Course of Study

An M.A. degree requires 24 hours of course work, which can be completed in one year. M.A. students are asked to take the first two "commons courses," but not the "distribution requirements." They must also demonstrate competency in one foreign language and write an M.A. thesis.

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