The Department of Anthropology admits students only for the Fall semester of each academic year. All application materials must be submitted through the Graduate School Admissions Office secure online application by January 15.


We regard anthropology as an approach to understanding various issues about the human condition. Accordingly, new questions and perspectives are constantly being explored and tested. Individuals with quite different backgrounds, experiences, and goals have joined our program and have been successful in their contributions to anthropology as a whole. Thus, we do not have in mind a single profile of our ideal applicant in terms of background in anthropology. Rather, we look for individuals who have received a strong undergraduate education, who express themselves lucidly in writing, who are clear about what they want both from our program and for their careers, and who are self-starters, capable of high-quality independent work. We have a flexible set of requirements in the graduate program that allows for students and their committees to fit the program of studies to students’ goals and needs. We on with their advisory committee to shape their graduate studies to best fit their needs. We also support students who wish to work across sub-fields in anthropology and between anthropology and related disciplines, as well as those working primarily within a single sub-field of anthropology.

We structure our MA and PhD programs around student interests and faculty expertise. Students are expected to demonstrate depth and breadth. Students and faculty advisory committees jointly construct a course of study relative to the skills and knowledge necessary to reach particular objectives while also fulfilling basic course requirements: We strive to sustain an atmosphere that is intellectually rigorous and mutually supportive. Thus, while we are very selective in our admissions decisions, once a student is in our program, the faculty work with that student to reach her/his/their training objectives.

Many of our students earn the MA degree as the foundation stage for the doctoral program. Some students enter the program with MA degrees in anthropology or another related field earned elsewhere. A few of our students remain in the program only through the MA level.

The Admissions Process at UMass Amherst

The Graduate School serves as the central, secure processing entity and the final decision-making authority. The Department recommends students for admission. Thus, students should not submit anything directly to the department. Application materials are shared with the Department of Anthropology by the Graduate School after you submit online. With guidance from the Graduate Studies Committee, faculty members carefully consider each application. The Department does not require GRE scores.

Admission decisions are made largely on the basis of a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Personal statements are typically in the range of 600-1,200 words and give a sense of the individual’s background and desired course of study. Decisions are also made based on fit with the program and faculty expertise.

Once admitted, students have until April 15 to make their decision if the offer includes financial support. The Council of Graduate Schools established this national decision deadline, the University of Massachusetts Amherst signed on to the resolution, and the Department respects the deadline.