Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants


Q: Do you have any written materials you can send me?
A: All of our information is available online.

Q: When can I apply?
A: We accept applications from October 1 – January 2nd.

Q: Where do I send my transcripts?
A: All application material must be submitted online (see "How to Apply" under the main Graduate tab). 


Q: What is the address of the Anthropology Department?
A: University of Pennsylvania
    Department of Anthropology
    3260 South Street – Room 325
    Philadelphia, PA 19104


Q: The application fee poses a financial hardship for me. Is a fee waiver available?
A: 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.


Q: Is there a minimum GPA an applicant must have to be considered?
A: No, we do not have a minimum GPA.  Our admissions committee reviews all elements of your application to evaluate your potential for success in the program. Grades and test scores provide important information, but we recognize that they are not the whole picture of you as an applicant and future scholar. Writing does weigh quite heavily in our discipline, so be advised that a well-conceived and well-written statement of purpose and writing sample can go a long way in setting you apart from the applicant pool.


Q: What are the English language requirements of your program? Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?
A: Graduate students in the Anthropology Department must have a strong command of English to be successful in coursework, dissertation writing, and teaching undergraduates. Applicants with citizenship or permanent resident status in the United States, Canada, England, Australia, or New Zealand do not have to prove their English proficiency.

Citizens of other countries may satisfy this requirement by either 1) submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores, or 2) submitting proof of having graduated from an institution where English was the primary language of instruction (in most cases, your transcripts will suffice).  Any questions about individual cases should be directed to Emily Kaufman (

Our TOEFL code is 2926. For the IELTS, the University of Pennsylvania only accepts hard copies of scores, which can be sent by mail to the Office of the Graduate Division


Q: How many applications do you receive versus the number of students admitted?
A: We receive anywhere from 150 to over 200 applications for 8-9 PhD positions. Master's students are accepted on the basis of a faculty member's interest in working with them.

Q: Do you require a writing sample?
A: No, but many candidates do include a sample with their application. Writing samples should be NO longer than 25 pages and must be submitted online.

Q: Do I need an undergraduate degree in Anthropology to apply to your graduate program?
A: No, but such an undergraduate degree is a positive element.

Q: Can I apply to more than one graduate department at Penn?
A: No (See "Joint PhD Programs" under the main Graduate tab).

Q: Is there a form or template for letters of recommendation?
A: No. The online application allows your recommenders to answer a few brief questions and then submit their letter online. There is no set format for the letter and most professionals are used to such requests. Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online application.

Q: When are decisions announced?
A: You should have an e-mail with your decision announcement by early March.

Q: How is the MA program structured?
A: The MA program requires students take the four core courses based on the four major Anthropology subfields: archaeology, cultural, physical and linguistics. After completing the four core courses, you must take the Comprehensive Exams. Your degree is complete after passing the COMP Exams, successfully completing 10 CUs and depositing either a research paper or master’s thesis.


Q: We do not have the same grade point average system (GPA), what do I fill in for GPA on the application?
A: Fill in whatever you use for GPA or leave this section blank. We will have your official transcript(s) to refer to for your grades.


Q: Where should GRE and TOEFL scores be sent? Do you accept IELTS in lieu of TOEFL?
A: The scores are to be sent to the Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences office electronically thru ETS. The school code is 2926. GRE scores are valid for 5 years and TOEFL scores for 2 years. Some groups will accept IELTS, GMAT and LSAT score results in lieu of the GRE and TOEFL. The Graduate Division cannot receive these scores electronically. An official copy of these results should be mailed to the Office of the Graduate Division.


Q: I am applying from abroad – what form of payment should I use for my application fee?
A: In payment of the application fee, applicants should use a credit card.  All major cards are accepted. See the payment page of the on-line application for further details.

Q: I am not a United States citizen – how do I get a visa?
A: Upon your admission, You will receive an electronic letter from the Graduate Division office. Within the electronic letter, there is a link to access the enrollment form. Once you complete this form, your information will be sent to the International Student and Scholar Services on-line database. When the information has been received by their office, they will send you an email that will provide all necessary information on how to obtain a visa; if you do not receive a response from them, please contact this office. When you have accepted the offer, your response is sent to the University system and you will be sent a message from the PennCard Center with a temporary social security number (9-digit admissions ID) if you did not already have one. You will need this number to begin the visa process.

Q: I've been admitted! What should I do next?
A: Congratulations! You will be sent an email that a decision has been reached, Sign into your application and click on the 'decision has been made' link. You will be taken to an electronic version of your admit letter. Click on the link embedded in the letter to record your decision. If you accept the offer, you will be required to pay an enrollment fee, by credit card.  After you decide to accept the offer, visit the following site for a Checklist of things to do before your arrival.


Q: Do all accepted PhD applicants receiving the Benjamin Franklin Fellowships?
A: Yes, all accepted full time PhD applicants are offered the Benjamin Franklin Fellowship which includes the cost of tuition, fees and health insurance as well as providing an annual stipend. The only exceptions are those who can prove that they do not need any funding. We do not fund dual or joint degree candidates, PhD students housed in another graduate group at Penn; such funding must come from the student’s home graduate group.

Q: Is there any funding for the master’s program?
A: No. Please see, Student Financial Services