Anthropology PhD

Sociocultural Anthropology Approach

The PhD program in sociocultural anthropology provides students with broad theoretical and methodological training while enabling them to pursue an individualized curriculum focused on their specific areas of interest in anthropology and related fields. Because of the relatively small size of the program, students receive specialized attention and mentoring in a supportive and interdisciplinary environment.

We have a number of prominent faculty members, including two National Academy of Science members and one American Academy of Arts and Sciences member, and leading researchers in other subfields, especially environmental and medical anthropology and ethnic and migration studies. Our research examines health and disease among local populations; global health disparities and health development programs; obesity and stigma; food and water insecurity; and the impact of environmental, economic, and technological change on indigenous peoples. We also conduct research on the children of immigrants, return migration, language and gender, museum exhibitions and cultural heritage, and ethnic minorities (in the context of diasporas, cultural identities and the nation-state).

Students will receive extensive training in research methods and are expected to conduct in-depth fieldwork for their dissertation projects. We offer award-winning classes in research methods, and the Institute for Social Science Research, led by renowned methodologist Russell Bernard, also offers short courses on various types of ethnographic data analysis.

Our graduate students conduct research about community organizations and NGOs; environmental justice and migration; political and cultural ecology; health care, disease, and mental health; immigrants and ethnic minorities; museums and cultural representation; the evolutionary basis for human behavior; and human rights and public policy. They actively attend and organize conferences, publish articles (including with faculty), and have successfully received numerous research grants from the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren, Fulbright and other agencies.

Phoenix and the American Southwest provide a dynamic and inspirational environment in which to undertake globally relevant research in local communities because of the area’s ethnic and immigrant diversity, environmental challenges and urban growth. Our ties to prestigious NSF-funded studies such as the Central Arizona Phoenix Long-term Ecology Research and Decision Center for a Desert City offer opportunities for internal research funding, interdisciplinary collaborations, and hands-on experience. 

Because the sociocultural anthropology program is part of the highly acclaimed and interdisciplinary School of Human Evolution and Social Change, students have opportunities to conduct interdisciplinary research that transects anthropology’s traditional subdisciplines. The program also connects students to dozens of sociocultural anthropologists across campus, as well as to a variety of interdisciplinary schools and programs, including Sustainability; Justice Studies; Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies; Asian and Pacific American Studies; and Latino and Transborder Studies.

Our graduate students have successfully pursued careers as university professors and teachers; research scientists; and professionals in academia, museums, healthcare and NGOs. Rigorous methods training helps ensure our students are competitive for academic and applied jobs.

Topical Strengths:

  • Environmental and Economic Anthropology
  • Health and Medical Anthropology
  • Global Migration
  • Ethnic and Indigenous Minorities
  • Museums
  • Linguistics
  • Applied anthropology

Current Regional Strengths:

  • Southwestern U.S.
  • Mexico, Central and South America
  • East and Southeast Asia

Sociocultural Anthropology Curriculum

Required Courses

  • ASB 591 Professionalism
  • ASM 579 Proposal Writing

Recommended Courses
Students will choose the courses that best fit their needs in consultation with their committee.

It is strongly recommended that sociocultural anthropology students take the following courses:

  • ASB 541 Theory in Sociocultural Anthropology
  • ASB 500 Ethnographic Research Methods

Sociocultural Anthropology Faculty

H. Russell Bernard
Research Professor and Director, ISSR
Emir Estrada
Associate Professor
Meskerem Glegziabher
Clinical Assistant Professor
Elisabeth Ilboudo Nebie
Assistant Professor
Hjorleifur Jonsson
Alissa Ruth
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Alexandra Brewis
President's Professor
Rhian Stotts
Cindi SturtzSreetharan
Associate Professor
Takeyuki Tsuda
Carlos Velez-Ibanez
Regents Professor
Amber Wutich
President's Professor and Director, Center for Global Health