Graduate Division

Anthropology Ph.D.

Section 1


  • UCI’s Department of Anthropology is known for its collegiality, creative teaching and research, and leading role developing new methods, theory and applications of anthropological knowledge.
  • UCI anthropology offers admitted students 6 years of guaranteed funding.
  • Faculty and students also have a very strong record earning competitive research funding from agencies like the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright Foundation, and Ford Foundation.
  • Graduate students also take a wide array of elective courses, both in and outside the department. Many pursue concentrations in critical theory, feminist studies, or medicine, science and technology studies.

What Sets Us Apart?

  • UCI Anthropology develops strong mentoring relationships. Students are encouraged to develop their own research interests that spring forth from these relationships.
  • The department is incredibly supportive of its students, who in turn leave with a diverse and incredibly useful skillset.
  • UCI Anthropology is unique in the way we are trained to conceptualize research and the freedom and flexibility we are given in our relationships with faculty member
  • We foster a strong sense of camaraderie among the graduate student community.  Rather than competition, we strive to have students work collaboratively on research projects and programs that compliment their strengths.
  • UCI Anthropology is very support of experimental research ranging from ethnographic design to the multiple scaling of projects.
  • We provide a rigorous 2 year-long course sequence that includes methods, grant writing and theory.
  • Graduate students develop skills that prepare them not only for the academic job market, but to an array of fields including the non-profit sector, archival training, government based projects, informatics and technology based professions.
  • A strength of the department is an explicit focus on social and cultural anthropology.
  • UCI Anthropology has a diverse range of faculty whose interests compliment each other and provide a supportive intellectual space for graduate students.
  • We offer 6 years guaranteed financial support
  • UCI Anthropology is a very collegial space with support from many levels including administrative, peer, and junior and senior faculty.
  • Graduate students and faculty are encouraged to build relationships with experts throughout the university to enhance their research and intellectual pursuits.

Quick Facts

Program Type

Doctoral Program

Normative Time to Degree

7 years

Capstone Type


Accordion Section

Admissions Requirements

The Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine seeks graduate students interested in a highly selective and intensive program that emphasizes current developments in anthropological theory and innovative methodologies for the study of contemporary issues.

Since the department specializes in sociocultural anthropology, successful applicants to the Ph.D. program must have selected this field of the discipline for the intensive study. Moreover, the department expects applicants to have preliminary research interests that are broadly consistent with those of our faculty. This is especially important given the nature of anthropological fieldwork.

Successful applicants to our program excelled in their undergraduate work and have demonstrated strong intellectual capabilities and creativity in pursuit of their scholarly goals. Accordingly, while a high score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is helpful, the Department gives primary consideration to an applicant's statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and writing sample.

Deadlines and When to Apply

The Department of Anthropology only admits students for the Ph.D. with the exception of the master's-only program in Medicine, Science & Technology Studies. Admissions are only for fall quarter. Accordingly, we encourage all graduate students to begin the application process early to ensure ample time for collection of all required materials. All applicants for the Ph.D. programs must apply online using the UCI Online Application for Graduate Admissions.

Applications will be accepted beginning September 3. Completed application packets must be received by December 2 in order to be fully considered for admission and financial support for fall quarter. Admissions offers are made in February.

Further information on the application process and graduate study at UCI is available at the Social Sciences Graduate Affairs Office or by email at See also UCI information for prospective applicants. If you would like to apply for a waiver of the application fee, see this webpage:
Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is one of the most important parts of the application to the Department of Anthropology at University of California, Irvine. It is usually the first thing read by members of the Graduate Committee and other faculty, and is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your intellectual interests. You may use the statement of purpose to answer questions of the following sort (you do not need to answer these exact questions; these are just suggestions):

(1) Why are you interested in Ph.D. study at this time, and why in particular are you interested in the Department of Anthropology at Irvine? What kinds of research are you interested in? Note that it often happens that persons accepted into our graduate program, like in any graduate program, change their research plans to some extent after they are admitted. The point is to show that you are able to articulate a possible plan for graduate-level anthropological research that is compelling, feasible, and speaks to broader debates within the discipline and beyond.

(2) What are your short- and long-term academic, professional, and career goals? How would the process of being a doctoral student and earning a Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at Irvine help you achieve those goals?

(3) What sort of relevant academic background would you bring with you to the Department of Anthropology at Irvine?

(4) How does your intended area of specialization fit with current research areas being pursued by faculty within the department?

(5) Other things you would like the members of the admission committee to know about you that are not covered adequately in other parts of the application.

A statement of purpose in the range of 750–1,200 words should be adequate and do nicely (around three to five double-spaced, 12-point font pages).

Writing Sample

Only one writing sample should be provided. It cannot be submitted via the application portal; email it as a PDF to The writing sample should be 8,000–10,000 words long. (That will probably translate to 15–25 pages, but since there is significant variation in fonts, margins, single versus double spaced, etc., it is probably easiest to go by word count.) If you go over that it is not a big deal, but in that case faculty may not have time to read the sample in its entirety.

The writing sample does not have to be based upon anthropological research; it could be a seminar paper, a chapter from a thesis, or any kind of original social science writing that demonstrates your skills in critical thinking and analysis. We do not expect applicants to create a sample from scratch for this purpose; we do not have any specific formatting instructions for applicants.

Letters of Recommendation
Three letters are required in support of your application. It is not necessary that your letter writers be anthropologists; it is more important that they be faculty with whom you have worked or studied, and who can talk about your accomplishments and potential for graduate-level study. Professional references are acceptable if you have relevant professional work experience or have not been in school for a number of years.
It is important that you stay in touch with your letter writers to ensure that their letters are submitted by the application deadline.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The GRE General Test is required of all applicants for Ph.D. admission. We cannot waive this requirement, even when the applicant has completed an advanced degree at another college or university in the United States. As noted above, while a high score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is helpful, the Department gives primary consideration to an applicant's statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and writing sample.

We cannot accept GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT scores in place of the GREs. We do not require that applicants file scores from any of the various GRE (subject) tests available. UC Irvine's GRE code is 4859.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The internet-based TOEFL(-ibT) is required of all international applicants except citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The test is also required of US permanent residents who did not attend four full years and graduate high school in the United States.

A minimum overall score of 80/120 is required for admission, while a minimum sub-score of 26/30 on the Speaking component of the test is needed to qualify for financial support consideration. We cannot waive either of these minimum score requirements under any circumstances. Neither can we waive the requirement for current TOEFL or IELTS scores.

We can accept current IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores as an alternative to the TOEFL-ibT, in which case a minimum 7/9 (overall) is required for admission, and 8/9 (Speaking component) for financial support consideration.


For application review purposes only, scan and upload copies of transcripts for all institutions attended since high school. In the online application, you will be prompted to upload your scanned documents. Please upload both the front and back sides of the transcript. Uploaded transcripts should be recent and include the following: your name, dates of attendance, grades/marks received, credits and grading legend. UCI reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admission process, and rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between uploaded and official transcript(s) are found. Official transcripts will be requested if and when you are admitted and decide to attend UCI. Do not send official transcripts until this time, unless you are requested to do so.

Personal History Statement
The online application system provides the possibility for you to provide a “Personal History Statement.” This Personal History Statement, separate from the Statement of Purpose, is required if you wish to be considered for a fee waiver. Otherwise, it not required (most Statements of Purpose include, to some extent, at least, elements that would otherwise be included in a Personal History Statement).
If you do not wish to file a separate Personal History Statement, simply do the following. In the box in the online application in which the personal history statement would normally be entered write “See Statement of Purpose.” To repeat: the Personal History Statement is mandatory only if you wish to be considered for a fee waiver.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A CV may be submitted, but is not required. It is fine to simply discuss relevant research and work experience in the required Statement of Purpose.

Degrees Offered

The Department of Anthropology offers a Ph.D. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Social Sciences (concentration in Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies), known as the M.A. in MSTS.

No general M.A. in Anthropology is offered, although students admitted into the Ph.D. program may earn an M.A. in Anthropology along the way. Completion of the M.A. in MSTS does not guarantee admission into the Ph.D. program.

The Ph.D. cohort size ranges between 8 and 12, and the Department generally has between 50 and 60 students in its Ph.D. program at any one time. While students work closely with their main advisors, they also draw on the expertise of the entire Department and the campus in pursuing their educational and research goals.

Financial Support

All applications for Ph.D. admission are considered also for financial support, and all admission offers to Anthropology currently include five years of funding. Applicants are not required to apply separately for admission and financial support.

Our competitive, merit-based funding packages include annual registration fees and comprehensive student health insurance; a combination of TA or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) appointment with individual members of faculty, and fellowship quarters in lieu of employment. Summer support and, in limited amounts, graduate student research and travel funding are also available.

All offers to non-residents of California, including non-US citizen international students, include nonresident tuition in the first year or two of study.

Financial assistance based on need (loans, primarily) is available to qualifying student applicants, through UCI Financial Aid & Scholarships:

All students applying for need-based financial aid are required to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

International students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible to apply for federal need-based financial aid.

Further information on assistantships and funding resources can be found here.


Information on graduate student grants can be found in the student center, and the grant proposal application itself can be found here.

Tuition & Fees

Graduate/Credential Student Fees 2019-20

  Fall 2019 Winter 2020 Spring 2020 Annual
Student Services Fee 376.00 376.00 376.00 1,128.00
Tuition 3,814.00 3,814.00 3,814.00 11,442.00
Assoc. Grad Students Fee 9.00 9.00 9.00 27.00
Student Center Fee 139.69 139.69 139.68 419.06
Bren Events Center Fee 23.00 23.00 23.00 69.00
Recreation Center Fee 88.00 88.00 88.00 264.00
Document Fee * 80.00 0.00 0.00 80.00
Student Health Insurance 1,459.18 1,459.18 1,459.18 4,377.54
Total California Resident $ 5,908.87 $ 5,908.87 $ 5,908.86 $ 17,726.60
Nonresident Supplemental Tuition 5,034.00 5,034.00 5,034.00 15,102.00
Total Nonresident $ 10,942.87 $ 10,942.87 $ 10,942.86 $ 32,828.60


Posted 12 July 2019 at

The tuition, fees, and charges posted to your billing statement or account are estimates based on currently approved amounts. These figures may not be final. Actual tuition, fees, and charges are subject to change by the Regents of the University of California and could be affected by increases or reductions in State funding, or other developments. Accordingly, final approved levels (and thus your final balance due) may differ from the amounts shown.

* The Document Fee provides lifetime access to official transcripts and academic verifications without a fee for in-person pickup or delivery by USPS. In addition, there is no fee for mailing the initial diploma. Effective Fall 2018, new undergraduate, professional, and graduate students are assessed the one-time document fee. Eligible students are able to use financial aid to cover the Document Fee.

Core Faculty

Victoria Bernal
Ph.D., Northwestern, 1985
gender, war, cyberspace, islam, transnationalism, africa
SBSG 3318 | 949-824-3137

Tom Boellstorff
Ph.D., Stanford, 2000
digital cultures, queer studies, indonesia
SBSG 3322 | 949-824-9944

Leo Chavez
Professor & Graduate Program Director
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1982
migration, media, discourse analysis, visual semiotics, medicine
SBSG 3326 | 949-824-4054

Eve Darian-Smith
Professor, Anthropology and Law | Director, International Studies
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1995
LLB, University of Melbourne, 1988
human rights, global governance, international law, postcolonialism, indigenous law and politics, ethnographic approaches, social and legal theory
SST 569 | 949-824-3744

Kim Fortun
Professor and Chair
Ph.D., Rice University, 1993
environmental problems and science, science and technology, environmental health, disaster, india
SBSG 3302 | 949-824-0376

Michael Fortun
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1993
anthropology of science, air pollution science, data science, genetics, history of science, united states, iceland
SBSG 3308 | 949-824-0646

David Goldberg
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Comparative Literature. Director, UC Humanities Research Institute
HIB 243 | 949-824-8180

Sherine Hamdy
Associate Professor
Ph.D., New York University, 2006
medical anthropology, science, technology and society, bioethics, comics, islam, egypt, middle east
SBSG 3328 | 949-824-0646

Mizuko Ito
Professor in Residence
Ph.D., Stanford, 1998
technology usage, focusing specifically on children and youths changing relationships to media and communications
HG 4014

Angela Jenks
Lecturer with Potential of Security of Employment & Director of Undergraduate Students
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco, 2009
medical anthropology, race and ethnicity, urban ethnography, united states
SBSG 3304 | 949-824-3188

Eleana Kim
Associate Professor
Ph.D., New York University, 2007
kinship, transnationalism, environment, korea
SBSG 3332 | 949-824-9298

Lilith Mahmud
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University
freemasonry, elites, gender, nationalism, race, citizenship, critical studies of europe, secrecy, transparency, knowledge production, secret societies, power
SBSG 3312 | 949-824-1585

George Marcus
Distinguished Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1976
elites, ethnography, and cultural critique, pacific
SBSG 3566 | 949-824-5345

Bill Maurer
Dean and Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1994
money and finance, law and culture, caribbean
SBSG 5218 | 949-824-6802

Keith Murphy
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2008
linguistics, design, aesthetics and morality, sweden
SBSG 3306 | 949-824-9234

Sylvia Nam
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2012
urban studies, property, transnational expertise, southeast asia
SBSG 3552 | 949-824-0965

Valerie Olson
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Rice University, 2010
environmental systems, science and technology, u.s., extreme environments
SBSG 3334 | 949-824-9737

Kristin Peterson
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Rice University, 2004
science and technology, feminism, pharmaceuticals, west africa
SBSG 3336 | 949-824-9652

Justin Richland
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
J.D., University of California, Berkeley
legal discourse analysis and semiotics; anthropology of law; contemporary native american law, politics, art and ethnographic museology

Damien Sojoyner
Associate Professor & Graduate Admissions Director (Ph.D. and M.A. in Medicine, Science and Technology Studies (MSTS))
Ph.D.,  University of Texas at Austin,  2009
prisons; public education; urban anthropology; race; african diaspora theory; public policy and law; gender; united states
SBSG 3546

Ian Straughn
Lecturer with Potential of Security of Employment
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2006
archaeology, cultural heritage, middle east and islamic studies, space and landscape, material culture
SBSG 3544 | 949-824-0646

Roxanne Varzi
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2002
iran, war, islam, visual anthropology, film, art/popular culture in iran, social cultural anthropology, religious studies, visual culture
SBSG 3314 | 949-824-7146

Mei Zhan
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University, 2002
medical anthropology, science and technology studies, theory and methodology, chinese medicine, globalization, china
SBSG 3316 | 949-824-8167

Career Outcomes

career outcomes data

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