Admissions Process

Each year the Department receives more than 300 applications, and less than 2.5% of those are admitted. The Candidate Statement is a very important part of the application. In evaluating candidates, faculty are interested in a candidate statement that clearly and specifically describes: (1) the candidate’s topics of research interest (as pertains to a future dissertation project), (2) what has brought you to those specific research interests (e.g., intellectually, personally, etc.), and (3) why the University of Chicago’s Department of Anthropology is a good fit for you to pursue your dissertation work. The candidate statement should be limited to 1,500 words. Letters of reference should come from people who are familiar with those aspects of the applicant’s background, broadly defined, that are relevant to graduate study in anthropology. GRE scores are not required for application and are not part of the department’s evaluation process.

All applications are considered together in the admissions competition rather than on a rolling basis. Admissions are handled by a committee of faculty members, which solicits readings from multiple relevant faculty for every application. Faculty read and evaluate candidate applications independently of each other. Admission, thus, is done collectively—rather than students being “picked” to work with particular faculty—based on general enthusiasm from a range of readers. As such, all faculty are taking on student advising and therefore applicants need not contact faculty directly before applying (e.g., to inquire if they are taking students or interested in their specific application).

Semi-finalists for admission to the Anthropology Department will be interviewed. In January, semi-finalists will be contacted to schedule an interview with faculty members.

The Department welcomes applications from a variety of academic backgrounds; previous study of anthropology is not required. A writing sample is requested of all applicants, demonstrating the ability to write clearly and make a cogent argument. It is preferred that it be 6,000 words or fewer, not inclusive of bibliographic references. Writing samples may be a research paper, an excerpt from a bachelor’s or master’s thesis, or an essay exam.

Applicants may address general questions to Americia Huckabee, Administrator for Student Affairs, 773-702-5436; Questions regarding application requirements or admissions policies should be directed to Social Sciences Division Admissions at

Apply Online

In 2023, applications will be accepted beginning October 1, with a due date of December 5.

Our application process is now entirely online (paperless).  All supporting materialincluding letters of recommendation, transcripts, and writing samplesmust be submitted electronically through the online application. Information regarding how to apply, requirements, etc. can be found on the Division of the Social Sciences website.

Special Note: While the Anthropology Department offers an M.A, degree on the way to the Ph.D., its central focus is on training Ph.D. students. Students not yet ready to make a commitment to the Anthropology Ph.D. may explore several more specialized M.A. programs, which allow one to take courses across the social sciences, strengthening a future application to a Chicago Ph.D. program. For example, see the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences.