Ph.D. Program

The graduate program in Brown’s anthropology department encourages a diversity of doctoral research agendas in socio-cultural anthropology, anthropological archaeology, and linguistic anthropology.

Our program balances a rigorous curriculum of core classes with more specialized training in advanced courses. Our graduate seminars and independent study courses provide an engaging and rigorous tutorial approach to training. Graduate courses offered this academic year are listed on Courses@Brown.

Brown’s graduate program is primarily PhD granting; students are not admitted to the department solely to seek a Master’s degree. Doctoral students complete requirements for a Master’s degree during their course of study, as well as additional requirements described below.


Degree Requirements

Generally awarded as part of the overall requirements for a Ph.D.

Four core courses

  • ANTH2010: Principles of Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 2020: Methods of Anthropological Research (or equivalent)
  • ANTH 2501: Principles of Archaeology
  • ANTH 2800: Linguistic Theory and Practice
  • Four approved electives
  • A Master’s Thesis
  • 12 additional elective courses beyond the 8 required for the Master’s Degree (or the fulfillment of equivalent through coursework at another university) 
  • Preliminary examinations in three topics
  • One year of teaching experience, usually as a teaching assistant
  • Approved research proposal for doctoral research
  • Foreign language requirement (if required by the candidate’s doctoral committee)
  • Dissertation, based on independent field research

More detailed information about the program, including a general outline of the timeline for completing the program, can be found in the Anthropology Graduate Handbook

Specialized Ph.D. Tracks

Cell phone company ad in Nigeria
In Nigeria, there are more cell phone subscribers than there are adults. A whole array of new phrases and practices has accompanied the spread of this new technology. Photo by Daniel Jordan Smith.
Anthropology and Population is a special track in Brown University's Ph.D. program in anthropology. Candidates file a regular application for admission with Anthropology with the Graduate School, but indicate in their essay their interest in this program. Students must fulfill all of the requirements for doctoral program in anthropology, but also must fulfill additional requirements. They must take the following additional required courses: Anthropological Demography (ANTH 2300) and Principles of Population (SOC 2080). They are also required to take one population-related elective in or outside of Anthropology.

They choose a topic within Anthropological Demography as one of their preliminary examination topics, participate in the activities of the Working Group in Anthropology and Population, and attend the regular colloquia of the Population Studies and Training Center (PSTC). PSTC also has a set of requirements trainees must meet. Special fellowships are available to students in this program.

More information @ PSTC

Lutz BasesThe Graduate Program in Development (GPD) is an interdisciplinary initiative sponsored by Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies and supported by an IGERT (Integrated Graduate Education Research and Training) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It supports training and research for PhD candidates in Anthropology as well as other disciplines (Economics, Political Science, and Sociology). GPD seeks to promote social science research on processes of social, political and economic transformation in the developing world with a special focus on the persistent problem of inequality. Inequalities of well-being and opportunity represent the most difficult and persistent obstacles to promoting equitable, democratic and sustainable development. As the problems of development and inequality become ever more complex and global, GPD aims to provide graduate students with the interdisciplinary skills necessary for innovative research.

The program offers specialized courses, funds field-based research, provides fellowships, hosts visiting faculty, and promotes collaborative research initiatives with partner institutions in the global south. The program builds on a core group of faculty internationally renowned for their research and scholarship in the area of development and inequality. Program activities are open to all PhD students at Brown. All trainees and fellows are eligible for summer fieldwork research grants.

More information @ Watson

Medical anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that seeks to understand human experiences of health, illness, and suffering. Medical anthropologists study topics such as global health, local health systems, indigenous medicine, violence and trauma, disability and the body, gender and sexuality, biotechnology, bioethics, and social suffering. Brown’s PhD program offers an array of opportunities for students seeking specialized training in medical anthropology. Brown’s anthropology faculty are actively engaged in researching a wide variety of topics within the subfield of medical anthropology, including HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, mental illness, reproductive health, gender and sexuality, violence and trauma, biotechnology, language and medicine, anthropology of drugs, and bio-archaeology.

Pentecostal HealingStudents admitted to the PhD program in Anthropology who express an interest in studying medical anthropology should plan to enroll in Medical Anthropology (ANTH 2230), and at least one other relevant seminar such as International Health (ANTH 2200A). Students are also strongly encouraged to seek out additional relevant courses in other departments and to serve as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate medical anthropology course such as Culture and Health (ANTH 0300) or International Health (ANTH 1310). In addition, students are encouraged to participate in a student-led Medical Anthropology Reading Group and to attend related speaker series. PhD students who wish to focus on medical anthropology should work with appropriate faculty to develop a dissertation project that is grounded in the theory and scholarship of the subfield.

For more information, contact Professor Daniel J. Smith or Professor Katherine A. Mason.