Graduate FAQs 

In addition to the information below about our application process, please review the FAQs for the program you are interested in:

Do I need a master’s degree before beginning a PhD program?

We admit students with master’s degrees or post-baccalaureate graduates in related fields. However, a majority of the students are admitted with a bachelor's degree and they continue into the PhD program, receiving a master’s in passing after 30 hours of coursework.

Can I earn a terminal master’s degree?

We offer a terminal master’s degree in global health. We do not offer a terminal master's degree in anthropology or other disciplines. However, please note that students admitted to any of our PhD programs with a bachelor's degree are eligible to receive a master’s in passing after 30 hours of coursework and appropriate academic output.

Where do School of Human Evolution and Social Change alumni work? 

About 70 percent of our students intend to pursue academic careers, mostly as professors in transdisciplinary programs, just ours, in which they will be doing research and teaching university students. Other students plan to use the degree to move into leadership positions in NGOs, government agencies and research positions in health fields, though the terminal master’s degree may be more suited to those with these types of career goals.

Our nearly 2,500 graduates work in academia and all sectors of our economy. Although the possibilities are endless, the American Anthropological Association and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offer useful data on the types of work these degrees will prepare you for.

What application materials are required by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change?

  • The online application form.
  • Three letters of recommendation. The online application will ask you to provide the names and email addresses of those professors, professionals or others you have selected. These individuals should be familiar with your academic and practical experience, as well as your capacity to be successful in a graduate program. Your recommenders will receive an email to fill out an online reference form.
  • Your statement of purpose, which is normally no more than three pages, but which contains critical information about why you are a good fit for the program.
  • Your current curriculum vitae.
  • Your official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate coursework should be sent to ASU by each institution.
  • A sample of your writing may be uploaded but is not required – this should demonstrate your scholarly thinking and argumentative writing abilities. Do not write something new. Use something that has already been reviewed and edited by one of your professors.

To begin your application, go to the ASU graduate admissions page.

  • International students have additional requirements which can be found on the admissions page for international applicants. Please note that international students may not apply to graduate certificate programs unless they have already been admitted into an ASU degree program.

Is there a fee to apply?

ASU has a standard application fee for all graduate programs at the university. As part of our commitment to reducing financial barriers, the School of Human Evolution and Social Change offers a waiver of the Graduate Application Fee for students who qualify. If you were eligible for a Pell Grant as an undergraduate, please complete the Fee Waiver Form prior to submitting your program application. We will also waive the graduate application fee if you are a citizen resident of a lower- or middle-income country per the World Bank classification.

What will increase my chance of being accepted? 

Writing a compelling and authentic statement of purpose that clearly expresses how our program is the ideal fit for your intellectual and career goals and talents is the first step. High undergraduate and/or graduate GPA, a background in the social sciences, evidence of scholarly success (e.g., publications, awards) and the identification of specific faculty mentors on their application who share your interests also bolster your application. Decide on a specific research question and/or project carefully grounded in the relevant literatures of the discipline to which you are applying and contextualized in its preferred methodology. Strong letters of recommendation that evidence firsthand knowledge of your capabilities round out the package.

While your path to graduate school may or may not be traditional, we are open to those whose record and passion indicates the ability to succeed and to fit well into our particular program strengths and the interests of our faculty members. It is critical that every accepted student has a faculty mentor willing to guide their academic career at ASU, which is why it is to your advantage to make faculty connections prior to applying to determine suitability and to identify them by name on your application.

Do you require the GRE or other test scores?

No. Applicants for the fall 2021 semester and beyond are not required to take or report scores from any standardized test, including the GRE. International students must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language or an acceptable alternative to establish their English language proficiency

How many students apply each year and how many are accepted?

It varies from year to year. Admission to our programs is highly selective and dependent on such factors as qualifications of the applicant and availability of space. We typically receive more than 250 applicants for our various programs each year and admit approximately 10-20% of applicants.

Can I visit prior to applying?

We encourage you to correspond directly with faculty members whose research interests match yours, both to determine potential fit with the program as well as to get an idea of the opportunities currently available to graduate students. Due to the level of interest in our programs, we no longer arrange formal visits for prospective students. Once you have been accepted, we host an on-campus event for all those admitted into our graduate programs. This typically takes place in March, providing you the opportunity to meet formally and informally with faculty, current students and the incoming cohort. If you wish to plan a visit on your own, there is helpful information on the Visit ASU website.

What is the time to completion?

As a full-time student entering with a master’s degree, you can expect to complete the PhD in five years. If you are entering with a bachelor's degree and will attend full time, it should take you no longer than six years to finish.

I have a full-time job and want to work while I pursue the degree. Is that OK? 

Generally speaking, it is very difficult to work full time and complete a graduate degree. All our courses are seminars and require your presence in the classroom for each session. The programs are demanding, and to make the most of the myriad opportunities we offer, you need available time. We recommend degree-seeking students commit to full-time graduate school. Certificate students may elect not to have a full-time course load and so are more likely to work while in school. Scheduling flexibility is required.

What if I am new to the field? 

Applicants with degrees in other disciplines may have some deficiencies noted on their admission letter that they can make up by taking one or more courses at ASU. Students entering with a background in the social sciences usually find the transition easier than those entering from the biological or ecological sciences. For those with no social science background, we highly recommend taking some key social sciences courses at the graduate level before you apply (e.g., social theory, social research methodologies, human geography, environmental sociology, political ecology).

Can I take coursework prior to applying? 

You may use up to six credits of pre-admission coursework to partly fulfill the requirements of a certificate, nine credits of pre-admission coursework to partly fulfill the requirements of a master's degree and 12 credits of pre-admission coursework to partly fulfill the requirements of a PhD in accordance with Graduate College policy. Please note that to take those credits, you must apply as a non-degree-seeking student first and also secure the permission of the course instructor prior to registration. We do not guarantee space in any courses for non-degree-seeking students. You may not be eligible for financial aid, including federal student loans when you are in non-degree-seeking status.

Do you offer courses online or in the summers? 

Currently we do not offer any graduate-level courses online. There are some opportunities for fieldwork credit during summer sessions, but we only offer graduate-level courses during the fall and spring semesters each year.

When should I apply? 

Applications open Sept. 1 for admission in the following fall and the application deadline is Dec. 1. There are no spring admissions. It is recommended that you have your application, transcripts, test scores and application fee to the ASU graduate admission office by Nov. 15 (earlier if you are an international student).

When will I be notified of admissions?

You can track your admission status at My ASU. Typically, students are notified before the end of March.

What is the tuition rate?

Please visit the ASU Tuition Estimator for current tuition and fee information.

What kind of funding is available? 

We award fellowships, teaching assistantships and tuition support on a competitive basis. Research assistantships are also available, depending on current research projects. Incoming PhD students are automatically considered for financial support through fellowships, teaching assistantships and research assistantships, which generally include tuition waivers and health coverage. For additional funding opportunities, consult the ASU Graduate College and the National Science Foundation.

Generally speaking, we are unable to offer funding to master’s degree and certificate students. We encourage you to complete the FAFSA forms and to apply for any external scholarships or fellowships that you may be eligible for. Certificate-seeking students who are not concurrently enrolled in a degree program may not be eligible for financial aid, including federal student loans.

Can I talk to someone about the program? 

Yes, we have a full-time academic success specialist dedicated to our graduate programs. She can guide you through the process, refer you to others on campus as needed and answer or further research all of your questions. She can be reached at