College of Arts & Sciences

Anthropology - Graduate

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Since its inception in the 1960s, the graduate program has been nationally recognized as a leader in applied anthropology. We define applied anthropology as research with practical application and impact, but anchored in a rigorous foundation in anthropological theory and method, whether from socio-cultural, bio-cultural, medical, or archaeological perspectives. With grounding in core anthropological theory and method, we train our students to be skilled researchers who can traverse both academic and non-academic settings, bringing to their research a sound intellectual base, and skills for application and practice.

Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Anthropology

The M.A. degree in Applied Anthropology at UK is designed to train students to apply the theories, methods, and practices of anthropology to solve real world problems, and to prepare students for careers in different domains of application or for further graduate study. The program draws on the department’s considerable research strengths in a variety of areas (see website for more information), and puts strong emphasis on training in theory, application, and proficiency in qualitative and quantitative research methods and skills. The M.A. in Applied Anthropology program has three Areas of Concentration – Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology and Medical Anthropology. Students must declare their area of concentration in their program application.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Anthropology

The PhD program in Anthropology consists of a minimum of 36 credit hours, plus a minimum of two semesters of ANT 767. Students must fulfill any and all other requirements of the Graduate School. An entering PhD student should complete required coursework by the end of the second year, and successfully defend a dissertation proposal and successfully complete the qualifying exams as early as the fifth semester, but no later than the tenth semester, after admission to the program. Upon acceptance into 3 the graduate program, a student will be assigned a graduate advisor who will review and approve all first year coursework, and in consultation with the DGS, evaluate requests for transfer of up to 9 credit hours of equivalent graduate-level coursework. Following the first year, all coursework will be approved by the student’s committee.

Application Requirements

  1. CV
    • Please provide an updated curriculum vitae containing information on your academic and professional accomplishments and experiences.
  2. Statement of Purpose (no more than two singe-space pages)
    • For MA applicants, discuss how you think the applied MA suits your particular professional and career goals and discuss why the University of Kentucky's Department of Anthropology is a good fit.
    • For PhD applicants, please describe your research interests and a potential dissertation project.
    • See below for tips on how to prepare a statement of purpose.
    • Please upload in the slot for a Personal Statement
  3. Writing sample
    • Please upload one exemplary sample of your writing. This can be a previously published article or an article submitted for publication as the primary author, a paper or essay written for a class, a chapter of your undergraduate or Master’s thesis, or a section of a report submitted to an agency. Please do not submit an entire thesis or a lengthy, multi-authored report.
  4. Three letters of recommendation (see Instructions in the section below)

Applicants must meet the Graduate School admission requirements.

The GRE is not required for admission to this program during the 2022-2023 academic year.


Application deadlines:
  • Fall: January 1

Letter of Recommendation Instructions

3 Letters:

Recommenders, please attach a letter and rate the scholarly ability of the applicant in comparison with students in the same field who have approximately the same amount of experience and education:

Outstanding (upper 5%) Very Good (upper 10%) Good (upper 25%) Average (upper 50%) or Below Average.

Further, please provide your recommendation for admissions to our program: Strongly recommend, Recommend, Recommend with reservations, or No recommendation. Finally, please provide your estimate of the applicant’s promise as a graduate student. Give views on such matters as previous accomplishments and training, intellectual independence, capacity for analytical thinking, ability to organize and express ideas clearly, drive and motivation, ability to work with others, and any other information you feel may assist us in evaluating the applicant’s potential for graduate work.

Preparing a Statement of Purpose for PhD applicants

The statement of purpose that accompanies your application for graduate study at the PhD level is very important to the admissions committee and is often a crucial factor in the decision to admit. A clear, well-focused statement reveals your potential for graduate work. Some tips for writing a successful statement of purpose:

  • Make sure that your research interests can be fulfilled and supported through graduate study in our program. In advance of submitting your application, we strongly encourage applicants to email those faculty members with whom you would most like to work and share your research interests.
  • Be as specific as possible about (1) the direction you wish to pursue in the area of your interest and (2) your educational and/or career objectives. Provide details about the types of anthropology problems that interest you, the kinds of methods and approaches you want to learn more about, and in what parts of the world you want to study. If you want to work with specific faculty, you should mention this in your essay.
  • Write clearly and persuasively. Your statement should clearly and persuasively articulate your plans for graduate study. Please provide details about your experiences, skills, and background that will help you carry out your research interests at the graduate level. The admissions committee needs to be able to evaluate your ability to analyze problems and organize your thoughts about your research interests and/or problems in anthropology.
  • Proofread your statement carefully. It’s a good idea to have a faculty member at your undergraduate or M.A. institution look over your statement before you submit the final copy. 
  • Share your statement with your recommendation letter writers. Once you have written your statement and proofread it, share it with your recommendation letter writers so that they are aware of your research objectives and plans and can comment on these in their letters.

Note: All applicants must meet the Graduate School admission requirements. Students who do not meet these requirements may face delays in being officially admitted to the university or, in rare cases, rescindment of our program’s admissions offer.


The GRE is not required for admission to anthropology graduate programs, however please note that the College of Arts & Science’s Hanh Fellowship requires minimum GRE scores among its eligibility criteria.