The Department of Anthropology offers programs of graduate study designed to provide a broad background in all significant facets of the discipline—biological as well as cultural, analytic as well as descriptive—while still encouraging specialization. It provides training both for students interested in an academic career in anthropology and for those concerned with practical issues approached from the integrative perspective of anthropology.

The department, in cooperation with the Milwaukee Public Museum, also offers a program leading to a Certificate in Museum Studies. The Milwaukee Public Museum, the fourth largest natural history museum in the country, is the site for methods courses that provide the student practical experience in museum work and for courses in the history and theory of museum exhibits. Each student’s program of studies includes training in anthropological theory and methods, issues and problems in cultural anthropology, archaeology, anthropological linguistics and physical anthropology, as well as topics that focus on the student’s area of particular interest.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program:

  1. A general master’s degree in anthropology or equivalent preparation without the master’s degree. An applicant with a master’s degree in another field may be admitted if the student has a grade point average of 3.0 (4.0 scale) in graduate work and is approved by the departmental Graduate Admissions Committee.
  2. Reason Statement.
  3. Three letters of recommendation.
  4. A writing sample such as a relevant term paper, article submission, etc.

Applicants are accepted into the PhD program only if a faculty member agrees to serve as major professor. Applicants are encouraged to contact the faculty member they wish to work with prior to applying to the program. The applicant’s statement of purpose should identify their proposed major professor.

Application deadlines for admission to the program are January 15th for the following fall semester and September 15th for the following spring semester. Applicants requesting financial assistance may have other deadlines to be considered eligible. Contact the department’s graduate advisor for specific financial aid deadlines.


A student who receives the master’s degree must formally reapply for admission to the Graduate School before continuing studies toward the PhD.

Credits and Courses

Minimum degree requirement is 54 graduate credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM. A student lacking any of the courses (or equivalents taken elsewhere) required to attain a Master’s degree in their major area of concentration must complete these courses as part of their PhD work.

ANTHRO 801A Survey of Physical Anthropology3
ANTHRO 802Perspectives on Prehistory3
ANTHRO 803Survey of Cultural Anthropology3
Select one of the following:3
Anthropological Applications of GIS
Archaeology of Death
Zooarchaeology: Analysis of Faunal Remains
Analysis of Archaeological Ceramics
Introduction to Research Methods in Anthropology
Techniques and Problems in Ethnography
Techniques and Problems in Archaeology
Archaeological Analysis and Report Preparation:
Archaeological Field School
Introduction to Anthropological Statistics
Topics in Advanced Research Design in Anthropology
Other courses with the approval of the advisor and Director of Graduate Studies
Advanced Seminar
Select one of the following:3
Seminar in Problems in Cultural Anthropology:
Seminar in Prehistory and Archaeology:
Other courses with the approval of the advisor and Director of Graduate Studies
Foreign Language/Specialization
A foreign language or specialized scholarly skill
Total Credits15

Foreign Language or Specialized Scholarly Skill

The candidate may satisfy this requirement by demonstrating one of the following:

  • Proficiency in a foreign language useful in the student’s career.
  • Proficiency in mathematical, statistical, or computer skills.
  • Proficiency in other skills that meet departmental approval.

Additional Requirements

Doctoral Preliminary Examination and Dissertation Proposal Defense

The candidate must pass an oral doctoral preliminary examination as one of the qualifications for achieving dissertator status. Candidates choose two to four topics in consultation with their advisor for the Preliminary Examination. The topics must be broader than, but related to, the focus of the candidate’s proposed dissertation research. The topics must be approved by the Department’s Graduate Studies Committee and the Department faculty. The preliminary examination must be passed within five years of initial enrollment for a student to be eligible to continue in the program.

The candidate must pass a formal dissertation proposal hearing prior to starting dissertation research.


The candidate must prepare a dissertation reporting in the candidate’s own style the results of an original research investigation representing a substantive creative contribution.

The dissertation must be formatted in accord with Graduate School requirements. Students will submit an electronic copy of the dissertation to the Graduate School and a signed, unbound “hard” copy to the Department of Anthropology.

Dissertation Defense

As the final step toward the degree, the candidate must pass an oral examination before their doctoral committee in defense of the dissertation.


The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.