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The Department of Anthropology prepares students for knowledgeable teaching and significant original research in sociocultural anthropology, also enabling them to bring anthropological concepts, findings, and approaches to bear on cross-disciplinary scholarship, public understanding, and public policy. The Doctor of Philosophy in anthropology is the final degree in the graduate program.
Sample of written work 25 pages maximum. Entering students are very strongly advised to have prior training in sociocultural anthropology (that is, a master’s degree and/or undergraduate coursework, although this need not be a full undergraduate major).
Optional: Applicants may submit a statement with their application, briefly describing how their academic interests, background, or life experiences would advance Princeton’s commitment to diversity within the Graduate School and to training individuals in an increasingly diverse society. Please submit a succinct statement of no more than 500 words.
The Ph.D. in Anthropology involves two academic years (four semesters) of coursework prior to the Ph.D. qualifying examination, dissertation field research, and the writing of a dissertation. First-year plans of study require enrollment in the Proseminar (ANT 501-502): a sequence taught by two instructors that covers both classic and contemporary texts and topics. First-year students are also required to enroll in the Coseminar (ANT 503), a fall term course whose instructor changes each year and whose theme is anchored in that instructor's recent research. Like first-year students, second-year students are required to enroll in the Coseminar. First- and second-year students are all required to enroll once in the department's field practicum (ANT 505), offered every other year. Overall, first- and second-year students take a minimum of three courses per semester: two courses within the department (required and/or elective) and one elective course that may be taken outside the department. Many of the department's elective courses are organized as half-semester seminars so as to expose students to a wider array of themes and faculty.
Assigned work for all courses must be completed by the end of the spring semester for students to be eligible for summer funding. (Announcements concerning University summer funding opportunities are generally made in January; most anthropology students do language training and/or pre-dissertation exploratory research and other preparatory work during their first two summers.)
Students are required to demonstrate competence in one scholarly language besides English. Students are urged to fulfill the scholarly language requirement early in the fall of their first year of study (satisfaction of this language requirement is a prerequisite for the second-year general examination).
In September of their first year, each student is assigned a first-year mentor. In coordination with the director of graduate studies (DGS), the student works out a plan of study that is reviewed at least twice that year. During the second year, each student convenes a committee of two advisory "co-chairs" with whom the student works in preparation for the second-year general examination; additionally, a third faculty member may either be recruited by the student or assigned by the DGS specifically to evaluate the written and oral components of the examination.
The first-year general examination, taken in May, is a comprehensive assessment of students' grasp of the foundations of social/cultural anthropology, organized around, but not limited to, readings in the Proseminar (ANT 501-502).
Along with strong completion of first- and second-year departmental courses, the second year general examination is a key prerequisite qualifying students for continued Ph.D. degree candidacy. The written component consists of three essays and bibliographies relating to theoretical/topical and area fields of knowledge developed by students in consultation with their committees. Essays are limited to 4000 words each (approx. 14-15 pages, double spaced) and each is accompanied by a selectively annotated bibliography.
The oral component of the second-year general examination is a discussion of the written essays among the student and the student's committee. (If a student did not select a third committee member earlier in the year the DGS will, in consultation with the student and committee, appoint one faculty member to serve ad hoc as an examiner).
Completion of all coursework from previous semesters and completion of the language requirement are prerequisites for taking the second-year general examination.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after successfully passing all parts of the second-year general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that the following requirements are met: successful completion of all coursework through two years of study, completion of the language requirement, and passing the second-year general examination.
All graduate students are expected to assist in teaching at least one undergraduate course any time during their residence at Princeton after completing the first-year program, unless there is no opportunity to do so. Teaching is considered to be an important part of graduate education; however, teaching is not a requirement of Graduate School fellowship support.
Each student makes a presentation of their proposal for dissertation fieldwork (doctoral research) to department faculty and students. The proposal is first submitted in writing to the student's advisory committee for assessment; after approval, it is presented orally for discussion with graduate program faculty and students. The department proposal presentations are generally completed before the end of the fall term of the third year and are usually based on the student's dissertation research grant applications. While many students can accomplish dissertation fieldwork using their university fellowship, the department strongly encourages students to apply for external research funding for several reasons: this is an important professionalizing experience; it is also a way to gain the extra time and flexibility that sociocultural anthropologists often need to meet fieldwork's travel and language fluency demands; finally, it enables banking one year of University fellowship support for use during post-fieldwork analysis and writing.
Students who have passed the second-year general examination are eligible to submit a dissertation based on original research. This research is supervised by the student's advisory committee (designated as dissertation “readers”). Departmental acceptance of the dissertation (achieved once the student's two dissertation readers have both approved a revised draft) qualifies the candidate for the final public oral (FPO) examination. This examination is based on the dissertation but extends beyond it to matters of the discipline as a whole, and confirms the candidate’s readiness for a career in the profession. The FPO may be held anytime during the academic year, based on a departmental request to the Graduate School one month prior to the proposed examination date. Two additional faculty are appointed (in consultation with the student) as dissertation "examiners" for FPO purposes. Subject to approval by the department and the Graduate School, one of these may be a relevant specialist of the student's choosing from outside Princeton. There are at least three principal examiners, all of them normally members of the Princeton faculty at the rank of assistant professor or higher, at least two of whom have not been principal readers of the dissertation. At least one of the examiners must be from the student's home department. The student and the examiners should be present in person. In no case may there be fewer than two examiners who participate in person, so as to respond to the student's presentation, comment on the dissertation text, and pose questions. In order to defend in May of any year, a candidate must submit a complete dissertation draft by February 1 to each of their two main advisers (i.e., to both dissertation "readers").
Carolyn M. Rouse
Rena S. Lederman
João G. Biehl
John W. Borneman
Carol J. Greenhouse
Rena S. Lederman
Serguei Oushakine also Slavic Languages and Literatures
Carolyn M. Rouse
Andrew A. Johnson
Jeffrey D. Himpele
Naomi S. Stone
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.