PhD Program – How to Apply

Before applying to our PhD program, click here for helpful information and consult the PhD Student Handbook to answer many of your questions about the program. You should also look into the research and backgrounds of faculty in the Anthropology program, to see if our program is a good fit for your interests. You are highly encouraged to contact faculty to discuss how your interests may intersect, prior to applying.

Other Graduate Student Resources:

Required Documents for Admission

Note that the Applied Anthropology Graduate Program strives to practice holistic admissions processes, guided by the Oregon State University Holistic Admissions Working Group.

All items below must be sent to the OSU Graduate School.

  1. OSU Application form
  2. Official transcripts showing completion (or expected completion) of a Master's degree in Anthropology or related field with anthropology coursework, and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5.  Submit official transcripts, not web-generated printouts of your grades, to the OSU Graduate School.
  3. Three letters of reference. At least two letters should be from university professors closely associated with the applicant's work. One can be from a professional in their field of  interest.  The electronic reference letter system, located on the Graduate Admissions site, will send requests to three reference writers indicated by you on your admission application. (Recommendation letters can be typed into a text box on a web-based form, or uploaded as an attachment.)
  4. Statement of interest including a proposed Ph.D. project, of no more than 1000 words and no more than one page of bibliography. Be sure to address how OSU's curriculum and Anthropology faculty could contribute to your proposed project.
  5. A recent writing sample (term paper, chapter of an MA thesis, book review, published article, blog, etc.)
  6. A CV or resume of academic and applied accomplishments (work experience in chosen area of research is preferred). Please limit to 2 pages total.
  7. TOEFL exam scores (for international students only)
  8. Demonstrated proficiency in a second language equivalent to that obtained at the end of a second-year university course in that language (ACTFL intermediate high)

As of June 2020, the GRE is no longer a requirement for admission to the Applied Anthropology Graduate Program (Masters or PhD) at Oregon State University.

All materials must be received at the OSU Graduate School by January 20.

Students with a Masters degree in Anthropology from Oregon State University will be considered for admission to the PhD program, but are also encouraged to apply elsewhere.

Choosing Potential Major Professors

Your major professor (sometimes referred to as a graduate advisor, or simply advisor) will be a vital part of your application and program. Applicants cannot be accepted into the Applied Anthropology Masters or PhD degree program until a member of the Applied Anthropology graduate faculty commits to serving as their major professor.

Before you apply, it is crucial that you learn about the Applied Anthropology Graduate Faculty, investigate the work they are doing, determine who would be the best major professor for you, and reach out to these potential major professors with serious inquiries about working with them. Applicants typically contact potential major professors in order to discuss mutual interests.

Some major professors may not be accepting students during your application period. It is your responsibility as an applicant to reach out and ask a potential major professor if they are accepting students during your application period.

Steps for identifying a major professor are described below.

First, visit the webpages of faculty designated as eligible graduate student major professors (listed below). Review their research areas and determine which best connect with your interests.  There may be more than one.

Dr. Molly Carney – Archaeology Dr. Melissa Cheyney - Biocultural Anthropology Dr. Loren Davis - Archaeology Dr. Drew Gerkey - Cultural, Environmental, Ecological Anthropology
Dr. David Lewis - Cultural Anthropology, Indigenous Anthropology Dr. Kenny Maes - Biocultural Anthropology Dr. Leah Minc - Archaeology Dr. Lisa Price - Food Security, Ethnobiology, & Ethnoecology
Dr. Bryan Tilt - Cultural, Environmental, Ecological Anthropology Dr. Emily Yates-Doerr - Cultural Anthropology, Food Security Dr. Shaozeng Zhang - Cultural, Environmental, Ecological Anthropology (on medical leave and not accepting grad students for fall 2024)  


Second, create a shortlist of potential major professors.

Third, conduct a review of the research, publications and accomplishments attributed to the potential major professors on your shortlist. Use this information to help you determine if this major professor would be a good fit for you and to help you in your communication with them.

Contacting Potential Major Professors

Different major professors look for different qualities in potential students. In general, when contacting a potential major professor:

  • Write in a concise, professional and respectful manner.
  • Discuss your academic and professional qualifications.
  • Demonstrate that you are contacting that faculty member because you are knowledgeable of and interested in their work and expertise.
  • Include your goals and motivations for your graduate education.
  • Address any responses from your potential major professor in a timely and professional manner.

If you do not receive any interest from the potential major professors you contacted, you can still submit your application. Most graduate faculty select their advisees from the applicants who have taken the initiative to review their work and contact them in advance. However, graduate faculty have the opportunity to review applications that mention them and contact any applicants they are interested in working with in the future.

If you are admitted

Before you accept an admission offer, it is important to have a detailed conversation about whether you are a good fit for each other. These conversations should include:

  • Whether their continued research and projects fit in with your long-term goals
  • The expectations you have for each other while working together
  • How your education will be funded, and who is responsible for which aspects of your funding

For more information on the role your major professor will play in your graduate program, please see the Applied Anthropology PhD Handbook.

Required Coursework

Learning Outcomes