Anthropology, PhD

The School of Human Evolution and Social Change is an excellent choice for students wanting to pursue a PhD in the traditional fields of anthropology (sociocultural anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, archaeology or bioarchaeology). It is also an ideal environment for students who want to combine these approaches and other disciplines to explore specific issues or research questions.

Our flexible graduate curricula are designed to encourage students to create innovative programs of study to pursue their interests while receiving broad training in key areas.

ASU's anthropology faculty – over 60 strong – actively engage with faculty in other disciplines, including environmental economics, formal modeling, urban planning, science and technology studies, and sociology.

The school offers many exciting hands-on learning opportunities through laboratories and field-based research that focus on finding ancient human fossils; unearthing buried cities, villages, and hunter-gatherer camps; understanding the development of language; appreciating the cultures of such diverse areas as Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Mediterranean Basin; studying disease and medicine; examining human-environmental interactions; and exploring many other topics that relate to humans of the past and present.

In this degree you can expect to be trained and professionally mentored, rather than simply supervised. If you are focused solely on questions of traditional disciplinary interest rather than how disciplinary knowledge can be applied to real-world problems, this may not be the ideal program for you.

This entire university is fast-paced, dynamic and demanding, which requires consistently high-quality independent output, collaborative skills and leadership. If your goal is to develop a top-notch professional social science skill set applied to anthropological issues and if you can remain motivated, open-minded and team-oriented, the conditions are right for you to flourish here.

When enrolling in this degree, you need to first select which of our “approaches” will be your core intellectual home (click through the tabs at the top of the page to learn more about each):

  • archaeology,
  • bioarchaeology,
  • evolutionary anthropology or
  • sociocultural anthropology.

Museum anthropology, medical anthropology and ecological/environmental anthropology students usually join sociocultural anthropology, although other arrangements can be made if it’s in your best interest.

 

Arizona State University is home to one of the world's leading programs in anthropological archaeology, attracting students and distinguished visitors from around the world. 

Awards iconA recent analysis of the archaeology job market identified ASU as one of the leading programs in the country for job placement. The peer-reviewed study, published in American Antiquity, ranked ASU 4th in the country in academic job placement. ASU PhDs not only were successful in obtaining academic employment across the study’s period, they also were more likely to receive jobs at top tier programs in the United States.

Graduates from ASU are now on the faculty of many top-ranked universities. ASU archaeologists carry out research world-wide, studying topics as diverse as the origins of modern humans; the ecology and beginnings of farming; the development of institutionalized social inequality; the rise and fall of urban states and empires; and the long-term reciprocal impacts between people and their environment. Our graduate students are actively involved in research and publication, and the PDF iconlist of professional student publications is impressive. The students have prepared a PDF iconlist of "strengths of the archaeology program," which should be of interest to those considering applying to graduate study.

Since the formation of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in 2005, the archaeology program at ASU can be viewed in two ways. First, we have maintained our status as a strong, vibrant and active program of anthropological archaeology. Our students are among the best in the country. Our graduate and undergraduate courses are still labeled "anthropology" courses in the catalog, and our master's and doctoral degrees are in anthropology.

From a second perspective, archaeologists at ASU are taking advantage of transdisciplinary opportunities and resources to lead the discipline in new directions: developing basic social science theory for understanding the dynamics and challenges of Western and non-Western societies; creating new technologies for collecting and analyzing data; directing interdisciplinary teams of scientists in novel research on past sociocultural systems and their environmental contexts; and applying unique knowledge about long-term dynamics to diverse issues facing humanity today.

ASU archaeologists focus their research especially on 4 complementary areas with the potential to have transformative impact on other disciplines and society more broadly:

  • long-term change;
  • ecological dynamics of societies;
  • social complexity and urbanism;
  • and the politics and power of ideas.

 

See our PDF icon archaeology curriculum.

Topical Strengths:

Current Regional Strengths:

Faculty

Photo of Michael Barton

Archaeology Approach Head
Michael Barton, Professor
Director, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Affiliated Faculty, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of David Abbott

David Abbott, Associate Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Photo of Jane Buikstra

Jane Buikstra, Regents' Professor
Founding Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Anick Coudart

Anick Coudart, Research Professor

Photo of Michelle Hegmon

Michelle Hegmon, Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Photo of Keith Kintigh

Keith Kintigh, Professor
Co-Director, Center for Archaeology and Society

Photo of Kelly Knudson

Kelly Knudson, Professor
Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Curtis Marean

Curtis Marean, Foundation Professor
Associate Director, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Konstantina-Eleni Michelaki

Konstantina-Eleni (Kostalena) Michelaki, Associate Professor
Associate Director of Graduate Studies

Photo of Christopher Morehart

Christopher Morehart, Associate Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Photo of Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson, Professor

Photo of Margaret Nelson

Margaret Nelson, President's Professor
Associate Dean, Barrett Honors College

Photo of Matthew Peeples

Matthew Peeples, Assistant Professor
Research Director, Center for Archaeology and Society

Photo of Charles Perreault

Charles Perreault, Assistant Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Francis Pierce-McManamon

Francis Pierce-McManamon, Research Professor
Executive Director, Digital Antiquity

Photo of Charles Redman

Charles Redman, Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History & the Environment
Founding Director, School of Sustainability

Photo of Arleyn Simon

Arleyn Simon, Associate Research Professor
Curator of Collections, Center for Archaeology and Society 

Photo of Michael E Smith

Michael E. Smith, Professor
Director, Teotihuacan Research Laboratory
Affiliated Faculty, Biosocial Complexity Initiative
Affiliated Faculty, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Affiliated Faculty, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Photo of Christopher Stojanowski

Christopher Stojanowski, Professor
Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Saburo Sugiyama

Saburo Sugiyama, Research Professor

Photo of Sander Van Der Leeuw

Sander van der Leeuw, Foundation Professor
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Institute of Sustainability
Director, Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, ASU-Santa Fe Institute
Co-Chair, Complex Adaptive Systems @ASU

For a list of affiliated faculty, please see the Graduate Faculty page and select the appropriate degree from the drop-down menu.

Anthropology students following the bioarchaeology approach have access to the outstanding faculty and state-of-the-art facilities associated with the school's Center for Bioarchaeological Research.

Founded by bioarchaeology pioneer and Regents' Professor Jane Buikstra, the center – the first of its kind in Arizona – is directed by fellow National Academy of Sciences member Anne C. Stone. 

Dedicated to discovering and communicating new knowledge about past peoples' experiences with health and disease, along with their cultural and environmental contexts, the center conducts research not typically covered by traditional researchers in the biomedical, environmental and conservation fields. Our research and teaching emphasize contextualization and problem orientation along with the latest methodological training. Students learn not only human osteology and various analytical and laboratory procedures, but also how to interpret the data resulting from these methods within a broad, comparative anthropological framework for bioarchaeological problem-solving and engagement with contemporary issues.

Our goal is to focus students' attention on important questions and problems early in their graduate career, and to provide them with the best tools to develop effective research designs. By bringing anthropological understanding of the past to contemporary problems, the center provides important insights to efforts that promote global health and seek to preserve cultural heritages, endangered species and threatened environments.

Faculty

Photo of Jane Buikstra

Bioarchaeology Approach Head
Jane Buikstra, Regents' Professor
Founding Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Brenda Baker

Brenda J. Baker, Associate Professor

Photo of Kelly Knudson

Kelly Knudson, Professor
Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Christopher Stojanowski

Christopher Stojanowski, Professor
Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Anne Stone

Anne Stone, Regents' Professor
Associate Director, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins & School of Life Sciences

 For a list of affiliated faculty, please see the Graduate Faculty page and select the appropriate degree from the drop-down menu.

 

Evolutionary anthropology focuses on understanding human biology and behavior within the framework of evolution and examines the interface between biology and culture.

Research in this area addresses such questions as: What were the evolutionary, environmental and cultural forces that resolved a diversity of hominin species into one? How diverse (biologically) are modern humans and primates, and how have they adapted to the environments in which they live? How have various diseases coevolved with humans and other primates? How do cultural changes and biological relationships among people affect patterns of disease transmission? What are the genetic and environmental susceptibility factors of various diseases?

At ASU, 15 faculty members and over 40 graduate students are actively engaged in examining these questions.

ASU faculty are at the vanguard internationally for research in evolutionary anthropology. Our research intersects with other disciplines and spans a broad range of topics. Among these, two major research foci are human origins, and health and disease. Our interdisciplinary approach includes research in the laboratory and in the field, engaging students in a variety of learning environments.

Because much of our research is field based, we also link to communities around the globe and work to develop conservation policies, understanding of disease, and training with these indigenous peoples. In addition, at ASU, we have extensive collections of primate and hominin fossil casts, modern human skeletal remains, the largest extant collection of dental casts, and the Ragsdale Pathology Collection.

Primary Foci

Human Origins – A synthetic approach to human evolution that includes phylogenetic systematics, paleoecology, primate and human functional morphology and behavior, developmental biology, human and primate genetics, archaeology, other biological sciences and geology to provide biobehavioral integration of the study of our ancestors. The Institute of Human Origins (IHO) and the Human Origins, Evolution and Diversity theme have their major emphasis in this arena.

Health and Disease – The biological and biocultural bases for understanding health and disease in the past and present include bioarchaeology, paleopathology, epidemiology and demography. Genetics and functional morphology are also associated with this research area. This focus enables information gleaned from the past to be used in decision-making for current and future health issues. The Center for Bioarchaeological Research (CBR) and the Biological, Social and Cultural Dimensions of Human Health theme provide the research focus for this arena.

Current Regional Strengths

  • North and South America
  • Africa (Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania)
  • Europe (Ireland, Spain)
  • The Middle East (Cyprus)
  • Sri Lanka

Faculty

Photo of Robert Boyd

Evolutionary Anthropology Approach Head
Robert Boyd, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Michael Barton

Michael Barton, Professor
Director, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Affiliated Faculty, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Alexandra Brewis Slade

Alexandra Brewis Slade, President's Professor
Co-Director, Mayo Clinic-ASU Obesity Solutions
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Jane Buikstra

Jane Buikstra, Regents' Professor
Founding Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Christopher Campisano

Christopher Campisano, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Ian Gilby

Ian Gilby, Assistant Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Kim Hill

Kim Hill, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Katie Hinde

Katie Hinde, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Donald Johanson

Donald Johanson, Professor
Virginia M. Ullman Chair of Human Origins
Founding Director, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Bill Kimbel

William Kimbel, Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment
Director, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Kelly Knudson

Kelly Knudson, Professor
Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research 

Photo of Kevin Langergraber

Kevin Langergraber, Assistant Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Curtis Marean

Curtis Marean, Foundation Professor
Associate Director, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Sara Mathew

Sarah Mathew, Assistant Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Juergen Neubauer

Juergen Neubauer, Associate Research Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Simon A Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center

Photo of Charles Perreault

Charles Perreault, Assistant Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Kaye Reed

Kaye Reed, Director and President's Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Gary Schwartz

Gary Schwartz, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Joan Silk

Joan Silk, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Christopher Stojanowski

Christopher Stojanowski, Professor
Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Anne Stone

Anne Stone, Regents' Professor
Associate Director, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins & School of Life Sciences

 For a list of affiliated faculty, please see the Graduate Faculty page and select the appropriate degree from the drop-down menu.

 

Arizona State University is an exceptional place to pursue advanced training in medical anthropology. Students who desire careers in the traditional fields of medical anthropology can choose to follow a track in sociocultural anthropology, in evolutionary anthropology or a cross-cutting integrative health-focused track.

Sociocultural Anthropology Track: The sociocultural track is interested in using theories of social difference to understand health disparities and vulnerability, with an emphasis on health in low-resource settings. Faculty area strengths include the Southwest and Arizona borderlands; Mexico and central America; tropical South America; and South East Asia. There is an emphasis on methodological rigor in training, and program faculty offer a wide range of opportunities to gain technical skills (ethnographic methods, GIS, epidemiology, research design, demography, agent-based modeling, institutional analysis, survey, social network analysis). Social justice concerns are common in this track, and there is plenty of opportunity to intersect concerns of social bases of health with other sociocultural and school strengths in the environment, migration and urban life. 

Evolutionary Anthropology Track: The evolutionary anthropology advisory track is concerned with issues of human biology within the structure of evolution and the interface between biology and culture. Intellectual drivers of students in this track might be such questions as:

  • How have various diseases coevolved with humans and other primates?
  • How do cultural changes and biological relationships among people affect patterns of disease transmission?
  • What are the genetic and environmental susceptibility factors of various diseases?

Particular faculty expertise in this area includes host-pathogen co-evolution; life history and behavioral ecological approaches to health and population; health and nutrition in the deep and recent human past; mathematical epidemiology and bio-cultural approaches to human disease; and nutritional anthropology. Training options in genetics, bioarchaeology, anthropometry, epidemiology, agent-based modeling, chemistry, growth and nutrition and paleo-diet reflect some of the strengths of faculty. Students in this track are expected to develop a sophisticated handle on evolutionary theory and its application. 

Cross-Cutting Health Theme Track:The cross-cutting advisory track embraces the holistic – rather than sub-disciplinary – anthropological approach to the study of health. It draws on theoretical and methodological tools from a broad range of areas in anthropology and allied fields, and integrates them to understand why health varies across and within populations, and across space and time. The advisory track is designed to ‘think across’ anthropological problems relevant to contemporary human health in new ways.

Also see our PhD in global health program.

Faculty

Photo of John Anderies

John (Marty) Anderies, Professor
Professor & Graduate Director, School of Sustainability
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Associate Director, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment

Photo of Christopher Boone

Christopher Boone, Professor
Dean, School of Sustainability
Affiliated Faculty, School of Geographical Science and Urban Planning

Photo of Alexandra Brewis Slade

Alexandra Brewis Slade, President's Professor
Co-Director, Mayo Clinic-ASU Obesity Solutions
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Jane Buikstra

Jane Buikstra, Regents' Professor
Founding Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Carlos Castillo-Chavez

Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Regents' Professor
Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematical Biology, School of Life Sciences
Director, Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Photo of Monica Gaughan

Monica Gaughan, Associate Professor

Photo of Kim Hill

Kim Hill, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Katie Hinde

Katie Hinde, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Daniel Hruschka

Daniel Hruschka, Associate Professor
Associate Director
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity

Photo of Ana Hurtado

Ana Hurtado, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Megan Jehn

Megan Jehn, Associate Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Photo of Kelly Knudson

Kelly Knudson, Professor
Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Jonathan Maupin

Jonathan Maupin, Associate Professor

Photo of Gary Schwartz

Gary Schwartz, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Anne Stone

Anne Stone, Regents' Professor
Associate Director, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins & School of Life Sciences

Photo of Amber Wutich

Amber Wutich, Professor
Director, Center for Global Health
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Abigail York

Abigail York, Associate Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

For a list of affiliated faculty, please see the Graduate Faculty page and select the appropriate degree from the drop-down menu.

 

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

Faculty

Photo of Takeyuki Tsuda

Sociocultural Anthropology Approach Head
Takeyuki (Gaku) Tsuda, Professor

Photo of H Russell Bernard

H. Russell Bernard, Research Professor
Director, Institute for Social Science Research

Photo of Alexandra Brewis Slade

Alexandra Brewis Slade, President's Professor
Co-Director, Mayo Clinic-ASU Obesity Solutions
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine 

Photo of Shauna BurnSilver

Shauna BurnSilver, Assistant Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity

Photo of Emir Estrada

Emir Estrada, Assistant Professor

Photo of Kim Hill

Kim Hill, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Daniel Hruschka

Daniel Hruschka, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity

Photo of Ana Hurtado

Ana Hurtado, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Hjorleifur Jonsson

Hjorleifur Jonsson, Professor

Photo of Sara Mathew

Sarah Mathew, Assistant Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Jonathan Maupin

Jonathan Maupin, Associate Professor

Photo of Alissa Ruth

Alissa Ruth, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Photo of Cindi SturtzSreetharan

Cindi SturtzSreetharan, Associate Professor

Photo of Richard Toon

Richard Toon, Research Professor
Co-Director, Center for Archaeology and Society

Photo of Pauline Wiessner

Pauline Wiessner, Professor

Photo of Amber Wutich

Amber Wutich, Professor
Director, Center for Global Health
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

For a list of affiliated faculty, please see the Graduate Faculty page and select the appropriate degree from the drop-down menu.

 

We are very impressed by applicants interested in working in two or more of these areas, in which we provide particularly strong graduate-level training. 

  • ancient & modern DNA
  • complexity studies
  • ecological dynamics of societies
  • epidemiology
  • formal ethnographic methods
  • GIS
  • health & disease
  • human origins
  • human osteology
  • urbanism
  • mathematical modeling & methodologies

Students without a master’s degree apply to Phase I of the program, where they will receive a master’s degree in passing. During this phase, students develop a Research Skills Portfolio and present one of their papers in a school-wide research symposium. A formal evaluation is then completed to determine the student’s readiness to enter Phase II of the program.

Students with an MA in anthropology or related field begin in Phase II of the PhD program, where they receive training to become expert scholars able to contribute not only to their chosen field, but to finding solutions to humankind’s greatest challenges.

The PhD in anthropology requires a total of 84 credit hours. A previously awarded master’s degree in a related area can be used to satisfy 30 hours of this requirement. An additional 30 hours of coursework are required.

Students entering the PhD in anthropology do so with diverse backgrounds and with varied career goals, so we recognize the need to be flexible in planning the most appropriate path for each student. Thus, curricular tracks will tend to be individualized, and final determination of the most appropriate course of study or how each requirement should most appropriately be met is made by a student’s advisory committee in consideration of the research and career goals of the student.

Anthropology faculty in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change are organized in terms of research approaches. Most faculty members are associated with at least one of each, and many are associated with several. The current research approaches and themes are:

  • Archaeology
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Sociocultural Anthropology

Core Courses (7 credits)
Professionalism must be taken the student’s first semester in the program unless otherwise agreed upon by the head of the student’s approach. Methods can be taken at any point in the program, while typically proposal writing is taken after the comprehensive examinations.
ASB 591: Professionalism (1 credit)
Methods course (quantitative or qualitative, depending on approach) (3 credits)
ASM 579: Proposal Writing or approved alternative (3 credits)

Phase II: Courses Outside of Primary Research Domain (9 credits)
Determined in consultation with supervisory committee

Electives (12-42 credits)
Courses relevant to the student’s research interests and educational needs. Electives include courses in many fields. Students are encouraged to propose to the executive committee additional courses from any ASU unit as possible electives.

Research and Dissertation Hours (24 credits)
ASB/ASM 792 (12 credits)
ASB/ASM 799 (12 credits)

The anthropology program offers concentrations in complex adaptive systems science and urbanism and certificates in immigration studies and museum studies.

For information on the application process, deadlines and funding, please see our Graduate Admission FAQs.

 

 

Q: What is the anthropology PhD degree? 
A: The School of Human Evolution and Social Change is an excellent choice if you are interested in pursuing a PhD in the traditional fields of anthropology (sociocultural anthropology, evolutionary anthropology or archaeology). It is also an ideal environment if your specific interests and research questions fundamentally integrate with other disciplines.

Q: What makes anthropology at ASU different?
A: Our flexible graduate curricula are designed to encourage you to design innovative programs of study that mesh with your interests while providing the broad underpinnings to train you in key, fundamental areas. Our anthropologists actively engage with faculty in other disciplines, including environmental economics, formal modeling, urban planning, science and technology studies and sociology. Our numerous and dynamic experiential learning opportunities in laboratories and field sites focus on finding ancient human fossils; unearthing buried cities, villages, and hunter-gatherer camps; understanding the development of language; appreciating the cultures of such diverse areas as Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Mediterranean Basin; disease and medicine; human-environmental interactions; and many other topics that explore humans of the past and present.

Q: Who is the ideal anthropology PhD student? 
A: In this degree you can expect to be trained and professionally mentored, rather than simply supervised. If you are really focused solely on questions of traditional disciplinary interest rather than how disciplinary knowledge can be applied to real-world problems, this may not be the ideal program for you. This entire university is fast-paced, dynamic and demanding, which requires consistently high-quality independent output, collaborative skills and leadership. If your goal is to develop a top-notch professional social science skill set applied to anthropological issues and if you can remain motivated, open-minded and team-oriented, the conditions are right for you to flourish here.

Q: What type of graduate-level training will I receive within the anthropology degree?
A: You need to first select which of our “approaches” will be your core intellectual home: archaeology, bioarchaeology, evolutionary anthropology or sociocultural anthropology. Museum anthropology, medical anthropology and ecological/environmental anthropology students usually join sociocultural anthropology, although other arrangements can be made if it’s in your best interest. Some specific areas of faculty expertise at ASU in which we can provide particularly strong graduate-level training include:

  • Ancient and modern DNA
  • Complexity studies
  • Ecological dynamics of societies
  • Epidemiology
  • Formal ethnographic methods
  • GIS
  • Health and disease
  • Human origins
  • Human osteology
  • Urbanism
  • Modeling

We are very impressed by applicants interested in working in two or more of these areas. With the recent addition of the applied mathematics for the life and social sciences degree to our school, we are also able to offer world-class training in mathematical models and methodologies and their application to anthropological research.

Q: What faculty will I work with?
A: Although this degree is administered by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, we draw our graduate faculty from across ASU to support your academic career. More than 60 Arizona State University faculty are on our graduate faculty due to their broad social science expertise in areas such as human and physical geography; cultural, medical, and environmental anthropology; archaeology; community resources; demography; geographic information systems; environmental history; urban planning; public affairs; environmental sociology; mathematical modeling; and science and technology studies. The university’s vibrant community partnerships and core areas of sustainability, complexity and healthcare innovation also offer our students broad research opportunities. You can browse the full list at the link above after selecting anthropology from the drop-down menu.

Q: What careers is this anthropology PhD suited for? 
A: Our students are mainly intent on securing academic careers in transdisciplinary programs like this one, where they can continue to study and teach at a university level. Others are focused on working in the private, public and nonprofits sectors, where leadership and technical consulting positions in NGOs, government agencies, marketing firms, technology and research demand the knowledge and analytic skills you will gain here. Although the possibilities are endless, the American Anthropological Association and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offer useful data.

Q: What degree will I graduate with?
A: A PhD in anthropology.

Q: What are some of the baccalaureate degrees of current anthropology PhD students? 
A: Anthropology, biological sciences, political science, communications and geography are some of the undergraduate program areas of current anthropology PhD students. You can enter the program with either a master’s degree in a relevant field or enter with your bachelor’s degree. For those with limited social science background, we highly recommend taking some key social sciences and anthropology courses at the graduate level before you apply, such as social theory, social research methodologies, human origins, sociocultural anthropology and archaeological methods.

Q: How long will it take me to complete the degree? 
A: 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 BA or BS and will attend full time, it should take you no longer than six years to finish.

Q: Can I talk to someone about the program? 
A: 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 shesc.grad@asu.edu.

Degree Offered

Anthropology, PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of

Location
Tempe

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study