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Department of Anthropology

Graduate Applicants

A graduate degree in anthropology can open doors for you. In addition to our graduates finding placement in academic positions, they also go on to work in the public and private sectors doing everything from forensic investigation to teaching classes on cultural awareness for businesses and organizations.
2021-2022 Graduate Information Booklet

Degree Programs

The Department of Anthropology at USC offers both Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy programs. There are two tracks within the Master of Arts Program: a standard M.A. (offering specialization in one of the four fields) and a professional track M.A. (focused on Public Archaeology). Additionally, standard Master of Arts students can apply for either a terminal M.A. or may do the M.A. on the way to earning the Ph.D. Students who have been accepted into the Ph.D. program will enroll concurrently in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs unless they already have an M.A. in Anthropology.


Admissions Requirements

All students will need to first apply and be accepted by the Graduate School before being considered for our program. The application deadline to the Graduate School and for all documents requested by the Department of Anthropology are due by January 1. 

Application fee waivers may be requested and taken under advisement. Please contact Dr. Terrance Weik (Incoming Graduate Director) at to find out more.

While our standards are flexible, we particularly seek students who have: 

  • GPA about 3.5

For non-native English speakers, we require one of the following: 

  • TOEFL Internet-based score of 80
  • TOEFL paper-based test score of 570
  • IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 score of 6.5
  • PTE Academic of 53

*Some programs may require higher scores

If you don't meet the requirements, we'll take extra care to look at your letters of reference and grades, life experiences and writing samples to determine whether or not you would be able to complete the program. 

Your personal statement is an important way to specify which degree program you seek and why. It also provides us an opportunity to also get to know a little more about you and decide whether the program you seek to be admitted to is a good fit for you. Use your personal statement to tell us about your experiences that you feel will contribute to your success in the program, but which may not be evident from your transcripts.

Please make your statement as professional as possible (e.g.: A person’s desire to be an archaeologist when they were a child is perhaps less relevant than what has happened in their more recent history that has made them decide to pursue a graduate degree in Anthropology.)

  • Your experiences that will contribute to your success
  • The subfields you wish to specialize in and kinds of topics you'd like to research
  • Professors you're interested in studying under and why

We do not require you to have majored in Anthropology as an undergraduate. In fact, many students have not.  However, it is very helpful if you have had some courses in Anthropology, otherwise, it may be difficult for you to write a good statement of purpose. If you have not had such courses, you should try to study anthropology either at a university or college and/or to do volunteer work having to do with the field within anthropology that you wish to study. It may be helpful for you to delay your application until you have had such experience. If you are interested in archaeology, it is very helpful if you have had experience working on a research project. If you have not yet done so, you might seek out opportunities to do so as a volunteer.  Experience living abroad is very helpful, as are foreign language and computer expertise

Your writing sample should be a research paper, completed during the past 5 years, if possible. We are looking for clear writing and evidence that you can summarize your own research and that of others.


Ph.D. Requirements

Students who wish to do the Ph.D. but do not have an M.A. in Anthropology will be expected to complete our M.A. program before advancing to the Ph.D. program.  Students who intend to do the Ph.D. may orient their coursework and research toward obtaining the skills and background that they will need to conduct their Ph.D. research. These students should apply to the program as Ph.D. students.

It can be helpful for you to visit campus. We like to meet prospective students and, while we do not require an interview, our impressions often are important in the final decision. Also, you will be able to meet our current students and talk with them about the program, meet the faculty with whom you will be working and visit the department.  However, since the faculty is often engaged in meetings away from the department, it is important that you call ahead and make an appointment.



Both standard M.A. and Ph.D. students are eligible for assistantships. Students pursuing a standard M.A. may receive funding for 4 semesters. All students who get an assistantship are given in-state tuition and a tuition fee abatement to cover tuition for 9 hours for standard M.A. students and 6 hours for Ph.D. students, plus health insurance. 

Ph.D. students entering the program without an M.A. are eligible for 10 semesters of funding, those entering with an M.A. are eligible for 6 semesters. Ph.D. assistantships pay $7,750 per semester for 20 hours of work per week. We encourage all our Ph.D. students to seek outside funding in order to increase both the amount of funding and length of time it's available to you.

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