Course of Study

Graduate Course of Study

  • Our first-year program is anchored by a required, two-semester Proseminar (ANT 501-502) that introduces students to critical debates in the discipline. The goal is for students to develop an historically informed understanding of contemporary issues in the field. Additionally, first-year students are required to take Co-seminar (ANT 503 A/B) with the second-year cohort. This seminar introduces students to the theoretical and methodological concerns of different professors in the department. 
  • The only required course for second-year students is Co-seminar (ANT 503 A/B). Otherwise, students generally choose courses to help them prepare for their second-year General Examination ("Generals") and for dissertation field work (e.g., a language class).
  • Additionally, first- and second-year students are required to take the Field Research Practicum (ANT 505) which is taught every other year. This seminar explores the ethics, politics, and practice of anthropological fieldwork. It considers questions about evidence, spaces of research (“the field”), researchers’ identities and relations vis-à-vis diverse interlocutors, and ‘method’ itself. This year, it pays special attention (on one hand) to the impacts of travel and in-person restrictions on fieldwork practice and (on the other hand) to the challenge of decolonizing methodologies: fieldwork particularly. We pay focused attention to the interview/conversation distinction (improvisation, collaboration) and to record-keeping, as well as to grant proposals.
  • Students take two departmentals per semester, for a total of eight departmentals during the four semesters of residency (generally their first two years). In addition to their two departmentals, each semester students take at least one additional course either in the Anthropology Department or elsewhere at Princeton and/or Consortium universities. Only one Consortium course is allowed in the second year. Departmentals can be full-semester courses, half-semester seminars (must take 2 to equal one course in semester), or with faculty and DGS permission, student-initiated tutorials.
  • All students are expected to qualify in language proficiency and conduct sustained fieldwork.
  • Graduate students will need to complete a minimum of two AI (Assistantships-in-Instruction) appointments: typically, one appointment during their second year, and one during their third year.

Time to degree: The graduate program in anthropology begins with two years spent on campus taking courses, after which students are eligible to take the PhD qualifying General Examination (“Generals”). After passing their Generals and developing a research plan for formal presentation to the department, most students commence dissertation field research sometime during their third year.

Third year students are expected to stay in Princeton for the fall semester in order to:

  • write grant applications with the help of their advisers.
  • prepare their fieldwork proposal that must be approved and presented during the spring semester.

Graduate students commence fieldwork in the spring of their third year.

The small size of the department and our centralized department space – including a large graduate study area with a carrel for each student – encourage faculty and student collegiality and engagement. 


Basic Princeton fellowship support for Anthropology Department students in good standing is for five years. 

Summer funding: our students use the summers after the first and second years to advance their doctoral fieldwork planning with language training, field site exploration, and the development of collegial networks and institutional affiliations related to possible field projects. Several competitive awards are available within the University to make this possible. 

You may use your university fellowship funding to begin dissertation fieldwork. We expect our students to apply for external dissertation research grants.