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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Anthropology


Admissions Process

To be admitted into the Department of Anthropology's Graduate Program, you must apply to and be accepted by the USC Graduate School.

In addition to their undergraduate transcripts, the GRE exams, and two letters of recommendation, applicants are required to submit a writing sample and a statement of their purpose in studying Anthropology at USC. While our standards are flexible, we particularly seek students whose GPAs are above 3.5 and GRE scores are above 148 on quantitative and 160 on verbal parts of the test, and above 4.5 in analytical writing... We look closely at the letters of reference and grades, life experiences, and writing samples of students with lower scores, for evidence that they will be able to complete our program.

Your personal statement is an important way for us to get to know a little more about you and decide whether our program will be a good fit for you.  Use your personal statement to tell us about your experiences that you feel will contribute to your success in the program, but which may not be evident from your transcripts.  Let us know the subfield(s) in which you wish to specialize and the kinds of topics you would like to research.  You do not need to have a fully formed proposal, but we would like to see that you can identify a good research topic that can be supervised within our department.  Please indicate those professors with whom you would like to study and explain why. In general the more focused your interests, the easier it will be for you to finish the program and for us to evaluate whether we can meet your research needs.  Please make your statement as professional as possible (e.g.: A person’s desire to be an archaeologist when they were a child is perhaps less relevant than what has happened in their more recent history that has made them decide to pursue a graduate degree in Anthropology.)

We do not require you to have majored in Anthropology as an undergraduate.  In fact, many students have not.  However, it is very helpful if you have had some courses in Anthropology, otherwise, it may be difficult for you to write a good statement of purpose.  If you have not had such courses, you should try to study anthropology either at a University or College and/or to do volunteer work having to do with the field within anthropology that you wish to study.  It may be helpful for you to delay your application until you have had such experience.  If you are interested in Archaeology, it is very helpful if you have had experience working on a research project.  If you have not yet done so, you might seek out opportunities to do so as a volunteer.  Experience living abroad is very helpful, as are foreign language and computer expertise.

Your writing sample should be a research paper, completed during the past 5 years, if possible. We are looking for clear writing and evidence that you can summarize your own research and that of others.

Students who wish to do the Ph.D. but do not have an M.A. in Anthropology will be expected to complete our M.A. program before advancing to the Ph.D. program.  Students who intend to do the Ph.D. may orient their coursework and research toward obtaining the skills and background that they will need to conduct their Ph.D. research.  These students should apply to the program as Ph.D. students.

It can be helpful for you to visit campus. We like to meet prospective students and, while we do not require an interview, our impressions often are important in the final decision. Also, you will be able to meet our current students and talk with them about the program, meet the faculty with whom you will be working and visit the department.  However, since the faculty is often engaged in meetings away from the department, it is important that you call ahead and make an appointment.