How to Apply

We will be admitting a new cohort of graduate students for the 2024-2025 academic year. Applications will open on October 1st, 2023, and applications will close on December 15th, 2023 (11:59pm P.S.T.).  To learn more about applying, please see below.

 The department does not have paper applications - all applications are submitted online.


APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED BEGINNING OCTOBER 1ST.  THE APPLICATION DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 15th (for both masters & PhD). The application system will close at midnight E.S.T. on December 15. You will not be able to submit any information or supporting materials after this time.

The application fee is $90.

Follow this link to information about applying
and to fill out an online application: 

Any technical issues with the CollegeNet application should be addressed to
Technical Support on the CollegeNet application system and not with the
Graduate Anthropology Department.

Admissions Requirements

Following are the required components of the application:

  • All undergraduate and graduate transcripts (scan & upload unofficial version)
  • Three letters of recommendation (online submission)
  • A statement of purpose (1,000 words maximum)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)*** for international students who are not native English speakers (unless they have a post-secondary degree at an American college or University)
  • Writing samples are highly recommended.  Writing samples should be NO longer than 25 pages and must be submitted online via the CollegeNet application.  It is recommended that your writing sample include a bibliography.  The bibliography pages do not count towards the 25 page limit.

*** GRE scores are optional for all applicants. If a student chooses to submit GRE scores, they will be considered as part of the application package.  There is no minimum GRE or TOEFL score requirement. The Institution Code for the University of Pennsylvania is 2926. There is no department/major field code. Please arrange to take your exam by a date that will guarantee that your scores will be forwarded to the University of Pennsylvania by the December 15th deadline.

*** TOEFL Exam scores are required for all international applicants. There is no minimum TOEFL/IELTS score requirement. The TOEFL/IELTS exam is not required if you are currently enrolled in or have already graduated from a school where English is the language of instruction, or if you are a citizen of a country where English is the official language.

To access the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences website, click here:

Our fee waivers are managed by the Grad Division of the School of Arts and Sciences. To request a waiver, you should email Patricia Rea, Associate Director for Admissions, with a brief letter stating the reason for your request. Please be advised that applicants must demonstrate a clear and compelling case of financial hardship and fee waivers may be considered for U.S. citizens or permanent residents only.

If you are granted a waiver, you will receive a code to enter into the application at time of submission. Please do not submit your application while your request is pending.


Evaluation Criteria for PhD Applicants

We evaluate applicants holistically, taking into careful consideration the full picture of how each applicant’s unique experiences have prepared them for success in graduate school. Here are some skills and traits that we look for in highly competitive applications to our program:

Academic preparedness and research experience. The applicant demonstrates academic preparation and skills that equip them well for graduate coursework and research in anthropology. The applicant has taken advantage of relevant available research opportunities and have a realistic perspective on how to conduct a research project.

Writing ability. The applicant demonstrates the strong writing skills necessary to succeed in coursework, grant applications, and, eventually, the doctoral dissertation. 

Analytical skills. The applicant has the analytical skills necessary to grasp and advance in the learning and teaching process required for the anthropology Ph.D. program generally and their proposed doctoral dissertation research specifically. Their academic work so far suggests potential for innovation and original thinking. 

Fit with our department. The applicant understands what anthropology is and what kinds of research areas our department specializes in. The applicant's interests overlap with the interests of at least one, and ideally multiple, faculty and graduate group members. Their materials articulate why they are excited to join our unique intellectual community.

Curiosity, initiative, passion, and creativity. The applicant demonstrates genuine curiosity, initiative, passion, and creativity in thinking broadly about big anthropological and/or social scientific questions. They demonstrate a strong ability to work independently and problem-solve, as well as a willingness to work steadily towards long-term goals.

Contribution to the intellectual community. The applicant stands to enhance and enrich the experience of other cohort members and to become a valuable contributor to the intellectual community of the graduate group, including enhancing its diversity and working towards equity and inclusion in the field. They demonstrate maturity through clear communication, ability to work collaboratively as part of a team, strong organizational skills, and ability to multitask.


For more information and tips, please see our Guidelines for PhD Applicants.

Nondiscrimination Statement

The University of Pennsylvania values diversity and seeks talented students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected class status in the administration of its admissions, financial aid, educational or athletic programs, or other University-administered programs or in its employment practices. Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to the Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Suite 228, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106; or (215) 898-6993 (Voice) or (215) 898-7803 (TDD).