Admissions Process

Application Requirements

For 2024 enrollment applications are due December 5. Application requirements include:

  • Unofficial transcripts for all post-secondary schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Candidate statement
  • Resume/CV
  • Writing sample
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores, if required per the University English Proficiency Policy
  • Application fee (view waiver options)

GRE scores are not required and are not considered in our evaluation process.

Apply Online

All supporting material—including letters of recommendation, transcripts, and writing samples—must be submitted electronically through the online application. Questions about the application or process should be directed to the Division of the Social Sciences at

Application Guidance

Each year the Department receives more than 300 applications, and less than 2.5% of those are admitted. The Department welcomes applications from a variety of academic backgrounds; previous study of anthropology is not required.

In determining who is admitted, the candidate statement is an integral component to our review. 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.

A writing sample is required 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. 

Letters of reference are also an important part of our process and 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. 

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 based on general enthusiasm from a range of readers, rather than students being “picked” to work with specific faculty. Because all faculty are involved in student advising, applicants need not contact faculty directly before applying (e.g., to inquire if they are taking students or interested in their specific application).

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.


Applications are accepted in fall each year, for enrollment in fall of the following year. For 2024 enrollment our application deadline is December 5.

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.


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