Anthropology

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I did not major in anthropology as an undergraduate?

You do not need to have majored in anthropology, but we do require 12 hours of advanced (beyond introductory-level courses) anthropology for consideration for admission. If you do not have those, you need to make them up, probably by enrolling as a special student at a university. Submit the transcript of those advanced hours with your application. We can provide further advice if you are going to pursue these hours in the Dallas area and you can run course descriptions and syllabi by the Director of Graduate Studies if you are making these hours up at another university in the country.

What are the primary sources of financial support?

We offer a limited number of full tuition and fee waivers together with a Teaching Assistantship stipend. These are awarded to those applicants that are ranked at the top of the applicant pool each year. They are awarded for the full academic year and continuing support depends on satisfactory academic performance in the program. To be considered for these, your complete application must be received before the January 15 deadline.

What are the most important criteria upon which admission is adjudicated?

The statement of purpose is very important. The faculty is looking for a good fit between the interests of the applicant and those of one or more faculty members in the department. If you are interested in linguistic anthropology, for example, our program is probably not right for you since we have no faculty member who specializes in this area. In graduate school, you work closely with one or two faculty mentors. Your statement should indicate whom you would most like to work with and why, what motivates you to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology, and what your goals are in and beyond the program. The letters of recommendation are also important, so choose your referees wisely. Other admissions requirements include a 3.0 or higher undergraduate GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and a combined score (verbal and quantitative) of at least 1200 (or 310 on the revised scale) on the GRE.

What is unique about SMU's Program in Anthropology?

We are a small and focused program and hence can offer a good deal of hands-on attention and guidance to our graduate students. The academic program is highly structured with a number of required courses in the history of anthropological theory, methods, data analysis, and proposal writing. Students in the SMU Department of Anthropology have a high rate of success in landing external funding for their dissertation research because of the training they receive. In archaeology, SMU demonstrates particular strength in New World Archaeology. In cultural anthropology, there are two tracks of specialization: one in medical anthropology, and the other in globalization, migration, and development. More information on the programs of study can be found in the Department of Anthropology "Redbook". Each year an updated copy of this "Redbook" is posted online.

What if I apply to the program with an MA degree from somewhere else? Can I get credit for previous courses and do I need to take the MA exam?

You can receive up to 21 hours of transfer credit in the cultural anthropology program and up to 24 hours in the archaeology program (18 hours of elective courses plus 6 hours of field school). If you plan to apply for transfer credits, you need to make sure you have detailed material for the courses - syllabi, written work produced in the course, etc. You should assemble this material and submit it as a petition to the Director of Graduate Studies who will circulate it among the relevant faculty (archaeology or cultural) for review. All students are required to take our written Masters Exam. The scheduling of this exam, if you are entering the program with an MA degree, should be made in consultation with your faculty mentor. Students without an MA degree normally take this exam after completing 36 hours (2 full years) of course work.

What if I took the GRE exam a decade ago?

You may petition the faculty to have GRE scores taken some time ago count as part of your application. This petition should be submitted through the Director of Graduate Studies. A minimum combined (verbal and quantitative) score of 1100 (310 on the revised scale) on the GRE is required. If you do not have that score, you might want to retake the GRE and you might want to explore some preparation material prior to taking it.

Do you accept international students?

Yes, we have had many international students in our program who have completed it with great success. However, strong English language skills (writing and speaking) are essential. It is very difficult to succeed if a student has difficulty comprehending the material or discussions in class or in composing a well-written and well-organized research paper.

Can I visit the Department prior to completing my application or if I have been admitted?

Yes, you are welcome to visit the Department at any time in the process of the application. You should contact the Director of Graduate Studies or the Departmental Administrative Assistant to set up a visit. It is best not to schedule a visit when we are not in session because many faculty members whom you would probably like to meet may not be in town. Normally, we also set up a lunch with current graduate students so that you can get their perspective on the department and the programs.