Anthropology PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Claudio Lomnitz
Director of Graduate Studies: Zoe Crossland
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

The department offers a full-time program of instruction which prepares students for research and teaching at the university level, for museum and archaeological work and for independent research and writing. Students in the PhD program in the Anthropology Department may specialize in either socio-cultural anthropology or archaeology. A specialty in biological anthropology is offered in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology.

The graduate faculty includes professors in the Department of Anthropology at Barnard College. These offerings are enhanced by a joint program with the American Museum of Natural History and close links with the Columbia Center for Archaeology. Other institutions, including Teachers College, Columbia's Regional Institutes and School of International and Public Affairs, and New York museums, enrich the Columbia experience.

Departmental research facilities include an archaeology laboratory equipped with microscopes and pXRF; a second lab with facilities for stable isotope preparation, archaeobotanical research and experimental ceramic firing is projected to be operational by fall 2024. Archaeology graduate students also have access to the Center for Archaeology media lab. Other facilities include the Center for Studies in Ethnomusicology; the American Museum of Natural History; the Museum of the American Indian; The New York Botanical Garden; the Wildlife Conservation Society; Wildlife Preservation Trust; the university libraries; and the computer center.

Fellowships are awarded to students in the PhD program in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students. Graduate fellowships thus include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) awards a certificate in Comparative Literature and Society. For more information, see the ICLS website.

Special Admissions Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample, a personal statement, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

Any offer of admission is contingent upon having taken the GRE and any applicable English Proficiency exam. Applicants should contact the DGS if they have questions about this requirement.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

Joint Programs

American Museum of Natural History

Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History have agreed to join their resources in teaching and conducting research in anthropology. Museum curators are appointed adjunct professors of anthropology, teach seminars and lecture courses at Columbia, and advise graduate students. Columbia faculty and students, in turn, have access to the museum’s research facilities, library, archives, laboratories, and photograph and artifact collections. In addition, opportunities for graduate students to work in the field with museum curators are available. Collectively, this agreement substantially increases the intellectual community at Columbia in all anthropological subdisciplines, giving students a greater chance to exchange ideas and work with faculty whose research spans four continents and many methodological approaches.

Teachers College

An intensive program is offered at Teachers College in anthropology and education and in applied anthropology. It trains candidates in anthropology and its relationship to problems in the domain of formal and informal education.

Regional Institutes

The department also participates in the programs of institutes at Columbia that are concerned with various regions of the world, including the Institute of African Studies Institute, the East Central European Center, the Harriman Institute, the Institute of Latin American Studies Institute, the Middle East Institute, the European Institute, the South Asian Institute, and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

Sociomedical Studies

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Division of Sociomedical Sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health, the objective of this interdisciplinary program is to provide in-depth training in both disciplines, enabling PhD students in Anthropology and in Sociomedical Sciences to apply the full range of anthropological perspectives and methods to questions of health. Health is broadly imagined, including bodies and their vicissitudes, social meanings and contexts, and questions of social and cultural equity in domestic and international contexts. Programs are individually designed but require a minimum of 30 credits in anthropology and 30 credits in public health, comprehensive exams, doctoral research, and a dissertation. For more information about the admissions procedure, contact the program coordinator, at (212) 305-1561.

Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC)

The department participates in the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (, which allows students to take courses at any participating institution in years 2-7. Archaeology PhD students participate in specially designed introductory core classes with students from CUNY and NYU in their first year.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.