The USC Department of Anthropology trains innovative, rigorous, cutting-edge anthropologists who expand the horizon of the discipline in theory, method, form and community engagement. Toward this goal, the PhD program requires serious engagement with social theory and in-depth ethnographic field research, while it also supports new ways of conducting and sharing anthropological knowledge. The Department seeks to support doctoral students who want to pursue a variety of career paths, outside as well as inside the academy. Our reenvisioned PhD program is grounded in a critical engagement with the history, theory and practice of anthropology. It prepares students to produce scholarly work and provides them the option to pursue a formally innovative dissertation (for more information on the Experimental Ethnography Emphasis click here). For some faculty and students, this means extensive engagement with and training in other fields. Working closely with faculty from within Anthropology, students are encouraged to partner with faculty across the university’s units and professional schools to craft a plan of study tailored to their research interests. The Department provides five years of funding and expects students to complete their work within that time frame. Given this time frame, applicants would benefit from having previous ties to their proposed field site(s), relevant language and/or professional skills training, and a completed Bachelors or Masters degree in anthropology or another field relevant to their proposed project at the time of application.

An Anthropology PhD Program Information Session took place on Tuesday, November 7th, 2023 from 11:00am – 12:00pm PT via Zoom. This virtual event was for prospective students who wanted to receive more information about the doctoral program and application requirements.  Prospective students met the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Anthropology department.  To see the recording of the meeting, please email



USC Dornsife Anthropology offers a fellowship package for our PhD students that currently includes a $40,000 yearly stipend (AY 24-25), health and dental insurance, and most mandatory university fees. Two years of financial support is provided without other obligations, and an additional 3 years via graduate teaching fellowships.


PhD Program Requirements

The Anthropology Department’s PhD program offers students a strong foundation in the history, theory and practice of anthropology, while enabling them to develop formally innovative dissertations.

Before advancing to candidacy, the student must fulfill the language requirement, present a portfolio and pass the qualifying examination. Having completed this work, the student will conduct fieldwork and write the doctoral dissertation.


Language Requirement

Students are required to demonstrate competence in one or more foreign languages, to be selected in consultation with the faculty committee.


Practical and/or interdisciplinary training

In addition to anthropological coursework, PhD students can engage in relevant practical training by completing 2 or more units of ANTH 596 Internship for Curricular Practical Training or equivalent, or by selecting courses in other fields that prepare them for their research and/or professional goals.



The student’s coursework must total at least 60 units. No more than 8 units of 794 Doctoral Dissertation may count toward the 60 units.

The following courses are required for the PhD in Anthropology:

  • ANTH 501 History and Foundations of Anthropology, Units: 4
  • ANTH 502 Contemporary Theory in Anthropology, Units: 4
  • ANTH 562 The Practice of Ethnography, Units: 4
  • ANTH 603 Experiments in Ethnography, Units: 4, or equivalent
  • ANTH 593 Practicum for Teaching in Anthropology, 2 units
  • At least 6 additional graduate courses, to be selected in consultation with the faculty committee (24 units)

Research and dissertation:

  • ANTH 790 Research, Units: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 (minimum 8 units required)
  • ANTH 794a Doctoral Dissertation, Units: 2
  • ANTH 794b Doctoral Dissertation, Units: 2

Program Contacts

Andrea Ballestero

Director of Graduate Studies

Jennifer Vo

Graduate Advisor