Earn Your PhD in Anthropology

Our Ph.D. program in anthropology is designed to provide a broad background in the field with a primary emphasis on sociocultural anthropology, biological anthropology, or archaeology. The degree prepares students for careers in academia, consulting, or other applied professions in the discipline. 

The major foci of research and instruction in sociocultural anthropology include religion, law and politics, ethnicity, gender, history and anthropology, problems of social change and economic development, culture and the environment, cognition and culture, and medical/psychological anthropology. The study of the Islamic world, East and Southeast Asia, and Africa are the greatest strengths among our sociocultural faculty and students. 

In biological anthropology, our faculty and students primarily study living and fossil human and non-human primates, including their evolutionary morphology, behavior, genomics, and sensory adaptations. For more information on ongoing research in biological anthropology, visit our laboratories page

Finally, the major foci in archaeology include human-environment interactions, urbanism, households, and material culture viewed in deep historical perspective. Faculty and students are primarily interested in Mesoamerica, North America, and the Mediterranean. To learn more about research and fieldwork in archaeology, click here.

PhD Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate mastery of the fundamentals of the traditional four subfields of American anthropology (social/cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology) sufficiently to make them effective and competent teachers of introductory undergraduate courses in general anthropology, social/cultural anthropology, and/or biological anthropology.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conceive, plan, propose, carry out, and write up a major piece of anthropological research, related to current theoretical discourse in their chosen subfield and constituting a significant contribution to the discipline.
  • Be able to make compelling and interesting presentations of their ideas and findings to audiences of professional anthropologists in several forms—oral, written, and graphic.
  • Carry out all these tasks in a manner consonant with the highest prevailing standards of ethical and professional conduct in research and teaching.


Each year, Boston University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS) offers incoming Ph.D. students Dean’s Fellowships, which include full tuition, a living stipend, and health insurance for five years; along with a new summer stipend beginning in 2021.

For more information on financial aid for doctoral students, visit the GRS page on fellowship aid.