Summary of PhD Program Requirements

The PhD program requires that a student has a master’s degree in hand before pursuing PhD course work.

Advisor and Doctoral Committee

It is anticipated that the student will have applied to our program with the intention of working with a specific advisor. It is expected that the relationship with the advisor will be one of mentorship as the student moves toward a mastery of the craft of original research and publication and gains familiarity with the role of a colleague. The doctoral committee should be established by the end of the first semester. It will consist of no fewer than five faculty members (four members of the Anthropology Department and one member from outside the anthropology department), all of who must be members of the Graduate Faculty. The outside member of the committee typically will be from a discipline other than anthropology. Under some circumstances, it may be appropriate to invite an anthropologist from another university to serve as the outside member. Approval for such action must be obtained in advance from the Director of Graduate Studies, and it is incumbent on the student and his or her advisor to complete the paperwork necessary to obtain a temporary appointment of the outside member to the Graduate Faculty of the university.

Course Requirements

Forty-eight semester (48) hours of graduate course work are required for the PhD. Twenty-four (24) semester hours can be transferred from an MA program to the PhD program, hence twenty-four (24) additional hours of course work are required beyond the MA. Note, however, that the graduate school has specific policies on transfer of coursework from other institutions, and if the full 24 hours of transfer credit are not accepted the student will have to complete additional course work during their PhD program.

Doctoral students are required to take 6 hours of ANT698: Directed Readings, but no more than 6 hours of ANT698 may be applied toward the minimum course work requirement. In addition, the degree requires a minimum of 24 semester hours of dissertation research (ANT699), earned in accordance with the guidelines of the Graduate School (see the Graduate Handbook).

Therefore, the distribution of credit hours for the PhD is as follows:

  • 24 hours transferred from MA. (subject to graduate school approval)
  • 24 hours of coursework (6 hours of which are ANT698: Directed Readings)
  • 24 hours of ANT699 (Dissertation Research)
  • Total = 72 credit hours registration PhD students are required to have taken graduate-level

Ph.D. students are required to have taken graduate-level coursework in at least three of the four subdisciplines in anthropology. Required courses for the PhD program are as follows:

Required courses for the PhD program are as follows:

  • Required of all students in the program:
    • ANT 601 Advanced Research Design
  • Required of all students in the archaeology track:
    • ANT 603 Theory and Method in Archaeology
    • ANT 604 Seminar in the Archaeology of Complex Societies
  • Required of all students in the biocultural medical anthropology track:
    • ANT 610 Theory and Method in Medical Anthropology
    • ANT 612 Seminar in Biocultural Anthropology

Foreign Language Competency

A reading facility in one foreign language appropriate to the research topic must be demonstrated, either by successful completion of two semesters of foreign language course work or by examination. The language is to be chosen by the student in consultation with his or her advisor. No graduate credit is earned for course work in foreign languages taken to satisfy the language requirement (although the grade earned will still count toward the overall GPA).


Following successful completion of language requirements and prior to pursuing dissertation research, the student must pass an examination, the purpose of which is to determine the student’s mastery of coursework and theory, and preparation for independent research. This examination will be designed in consultation with the student’s advisor and committee. The committee may require of the student the development and approval of a bibliography that provides the baseline literature on which the examination will be based. Inadequate performance on the preliminary examination can mean immediate dismissal of the student from the PhD program.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

Prior to beginning dissertation fieldwork, the student must successfully pass an oral defense of the doctoral dissertation research plan. In extraordinary circumstances, a student may, prior to completion of the written examination and with the approval of his or her committee, develop, defend, and submit for funding a proposal for dissertation research.

Admission to Candidacy and Dissertation Research

Successful completion of the examination and defense of the dissertation proposal results in a recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School for admission to candidacy for the degree. The degree requires that applicants experience substantial ethnographic or archaeological fieldwork, consistent with the traditional emphasis in Americanist anthropology. There are no specific requirements concerning the duration of such fieldwork, though it is expected to last from 3 to 12 months.

Dissertation Defense

Upon completion of the dissertation research, the student must complete a written dissertation. The dissertation is subject to the final approval of the student’s entire committee. The dissertation must be distributed to the dissertation committee at least 4 weeks prior to the defense, except under exceptional circumstances by agreement of the committee. Then, the student must successfully defend the work in the format of a presentation to the faculty. The date and time for this oral defense will be publicized at least two weeks in advance 9 of its occurrence. The student’s committee will attend, as well as any interested faculty from the University community.

In anticipation of a successful defense and early in the semester in which the student expects to graduate, he or she must submit an application for the degree to the Graduate School.

According to the University of Alabama Graduate Catalog, “All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within seven years (21 fall, spring, and summer semesters) following admission to the doctoral program.”

Dissertation Information from the Graduate Catalog