Graduate Admissions

Admissions & Placement

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

Applications for Fall 2021 admission are due by December 1, 2020, and should be completed on-line through the University of Illinois Graduate College via the link below. Admissions decisions are typically made during January and February.  We do not accept new students for the Spring term. 

A complete application involves considerable effort on your part and consists of the following:

  • The application for admission to the Graduate College, including transcripts from your previous schools. The application is available on-line.
  • The statement of your research interests in anthropology (these typically average 4 to 5 double spaced pages)
  • Letters of recommendation from three people who know you well and can evaluate your potential for advanced study in anthropology.
  • The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is no longer a requirement for admission to the graduate program.
  • International applicants must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores, unless you attended an English-speaking university for at least two years.
  • International applicants must submit appropriate visa and financial documentation as detailed in the Graduate College application form.

Admissions decisions are among the most important that our faculty make.  Each year we receive applications from many more well-qualified candidates than we are able to admit to our programs. The care you take in preparing your statement and in selecting the persons who will be sending letters of recommendation on your behalf will help provide us with the information we will use to identity applicants most likely to succeed in our programs. 

Our Department is deeply committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive professional and scholarly community.  In accordance with discussions and initiatives in our profession and on the University of Illinois campus (, we recognize that dimensions of identity such as race, gender, class, religion, disability, language, and sexuality matter at once as crucial topics of anthropological study and in terms of the politics of scholarly practice.  These values help guide our graduate programs from the admissions process through all phases of training and mentoring.

Successful applicants to our department will be joining one of the leading anthropology programs in the nation.  According to the 2010 National Research Council (NRC) report on graduate programs across the nation, Anthropology at the University of Illinois ranked 12th out of 82 peer programs overall, and received rankings of 1st in program outcomes; 1st in percentage of students fully supported through the graduate program; 6th in percentage of minority students; 7th in percentage of international students; and 8th in time to degree.

Our program typically provides admitted graduate students with five and half years of funding support to assist them in their period of studies and research. This support usually includes fifty-percent-time positions as a teaching assistant or research assistant, with accompanying tuition and fee waivers and related benefits. Continuing support is contingent upon each graduate student's strong progress in the program. After the first four years of such support, students are later eligible for one and half years of such department funding support after they complete work on dissertation research. Our University also provides additional opportunities for competitive grants and fellowships to support course work, research, travel, and dissertation completion.

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:

Specific Requirements for Advanced Degrees


The department offers two advanced degrees, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. The qualified student may work directly for the Ph.D. degree without taking an M.A. If an M.A. is taken, all requirements for it must be met by the time of, or before, the completion of the Preliminary Examination for the Ph.D. degree.