Graduate Admissions

Admissions & Placement


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Application deadline: December 1st for Fall of the next academic year. 


Virtual Admissions Informational Event 



Thank you very much for your interest in applying to our graduate programs in Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  We offer doctoral training in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology, with a single admissions process for all applicants. Details about our graduate curricula are available in our graduate handbook.

Graduate Handbook


Application to the PhD Program in Anthropology

Check list of Materials:

  • Description of Interests Form (editable with Adobe Acrobat pdf ; doc
  • Statement of Research Interests and Objectives
  • Personal Statement
  • Writing Sample (optional)
  • Online Conversation (optional)
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcript (GPA 3.0 or higher)
  • CV/Resume
  • TOEFL score (for non-native English speakers)



The University of Illinois Department of Anthropology welcomes application to their PhD program for Fall. We welcome applicants from all subdisciplines, students whose research interests cross subdisciplinary boundaries, and those who are well-matched to the strengths of our faculty. We especially encourage students from underrepresented minority groups to apply as part of our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

This application process provides you the opportunity to show us your best scholarly selves. Please read the information below for guidance on both required and optional materials.

** Submit your Description of Interests Form, Statement of Research Interests and Objectives, Personal Statement and Writing Sample electronically by uploading it with your online application.

A few tips to increase your chances for success in admission to our program and others:

  • Contact potential advisors before submitting your application. A short conversation or email exchange can reveal whether you have shared interests and mentoring styles. This also saves you work if your preferred mentors are not taking students this year.
  • Consider applying to programs where there are at least two faculty with whom you would be excited to work. We often encourage co-advisors because distributed mentoring leads to more diverse and constructive advice for our students.
  • Contact graduate students in the program who share your interests.
  • Faculty and graduate student profiles and contact information can be viewed on the Anthropology Department’s website


Guidance on application materials:

DESCRIPTION OF INTERESTS FORM: This part of the application allows you to indicate your topical and geographical areas of interest and identify the faculty members with whom you are interested in working. Please also indicate if you choose to participate in the optional online conversation.

STATEMENT OF RESEARCH INTERESTS AND OBJECTIVES: This is the single most important item in your application. This essay should be 1000-1500 words and give the admissions committee a clear idea of 1) why you want to pursue a career in anthropology; 2) what anthropological questions or problems interest you; 3) how you want to address these questions; 4) why you are interested in the faculty named in the Description of Interests Form; and 5) why you want to pursue your graduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: The Personal Statement is a brief essay (maximum of 500 words) on how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This is not an academic statement of research, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree.  This information will assist the Admissions Committee identify and nominate candidates for Graduate College Fellowships [see].


WRITING SAMPLE (optional): You may include a writing sample that will help the committee assess your fit for the department as well as provide a deeper sense of your research interests. We realize not all applicants have a writing sample immediately available and you will not be penalized if you choose not to include one. Your writing sample should provide the Admissions Committee and relevant faculty with a substantive piece of scholarly work and demonstrate your ability to write clearly and to make a cogent argument. Applicants may submit a short research paper, an excerpt from a thesis, a journal article, essay, etc. Please do not send more than 8000 words. 


ONLINE CONVERSATION (optional): As an alternative to, or in addition to the optional writing sample, we invite applicants to schedule a fifteen-minute call with members of the faculty they have identified as potential advisors. If you select this option (on the Description of Interests Form) please do not contact us, you will receive a link with options for an online conversation time between December 11-18.


Admissions process and timeline:

Admission decisions are made collectively by faculty in each subdiscipline in consultation with the Graduate Admissions Committee. We receive many worthy applications, and every year must place truly excellent students on our wait list. If you are waitlisted, please understand that this means we consider you to be an outstanding candidate and would very much like to have you join us.

Our graduate admissions process takes place in two phases. A first selectionwhen each subdiscipline ranks their top choices and a final selection is made by mid-December by the Graduate Admissions Committee. We will notify you by Dec 21st if you have been admitted or waitlisted. While the official acceptance date is April 1st, we strongly encourage admitted students to formally accept or decline our invitation as soon as they reasonably can so that we can invite waitlisted students into the program.


Again, thank you for your interest in the University of Illinois.  We look forward to your application.


Brenda Farnell
Head, Department of Anthropology

For additional information on Graduate Study in Anthropology please contact:

Advanced Degrees

Please note that except for a terminal MA degree in archaeology, the Department of Anthropology offers a PhD degree.  Graduate students may request the award of an M.A. during the process of their doctoral program, but not as a standalone degree.  See the Graduate Handbook for further details.