The University of Massachusetts Amherst


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 site by December 20.


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 subfields 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 Ph.D. 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 an 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.

What is the Deadline to Apply?

The deadline to apply to the graduate program in Anthropology is December 20.

How do I apply?

Applications to the University of Massachusetts are submitted online.  Please visit the Graduate School for more information.

Are GRE's Required?

The Department of Anthropology does not require GREs to apply or for admittance into the graduate program.  

I am an International Applicant. Do I need to take an English Language Test?

If you have an undergraduate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university and you submit a full transcript, you will not have to take the English Language Test. If you need the English Language Test, the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System)-only the academic version of the test is accepted.  
Further information about the Graduate School’s English Language Proficiency requirements can be found here under “English Language Proficiency Requirement”. 

Do I need to fill out forms for financial aid before applying?

You do not need to apply for financial aid to be considered for admission.  Some funding may be provided through teaching or research assistantships providing availabilty.

What about letters of recommendation?

At least two(2) letters of recommendation are required and should be from individuals who can evaluate the quality of your prior academic performance and your scholastic potential, as well as your personal characteristics. They may be sent to the graduate school directly by the writer, or they may be sent with your other materials.  We will accept recommendation letters after the deadline up until we start reviewing applications. For more information on submitting recommendations:

Do you offer application fee waivers?

Under certain circumstances, domestic students may qualify for an application fee waiver. International students are not eligible for a fee waiver. More details on fee waivers can be found on the Graduate School website

Do you offer a Terminal Master's degree?

We prioritize admissions for students wishing to obtain a Ph.D.. However, we do accept students seeking a terminal degree, although students wishing to obtain a terminal Master's degree are a lower priority for funding through department assistantships and fellowships.

Do I need an Anthropology MA to apply to the Ph.D. program?

No, you may apply with a BA or BS and complete the MA in Anthropology as a step toward the Ph.D. You may enter the program with an MA in anthropology or a related field and proceed directly into the Ph.D. program.

When will I receive a decision about my acceptance into the program?

The Graduate School Admissions office will send you a letter in mid-March, unless your application is still under consideration.

What's next after I apply?

You can track your application through the Graduate School "After you apply"

If you need department updates prior to this you can contact the Department of Anthropology Graduate Program Director and/or Graduate Administrative Assistant (see website).

When you receive a letter of acceptance from the department, it will include any funding and other benefits to be provided, as well as your initial advisor once you enter the program.

I'm a graduate applicant with young children, Does UMass offer childcare opportunities for graduate students?

Graduate students are eligible for childcare benefits through the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) and graduate members of the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) union are offered childcare benefits as a part of their contract. More information can be found here.

Does your school offer housing on campus for graduate students?

The university has a limited amount of housing available, but most graduate students choose to live off-campus. Check out the UMass Housing Services website and Off-Campus Housing.

Will I be able to tour the UMass campus or set up an interview?

Yes. We will work with you to schedule a visit to campus and an interview if you wish. You can work to schedule these by contacting the Graduate Program Director, and Graduate Administrative Assistant (see website), as well as any specific faculty with whom you have been in contact.

Am I guaranteed funding? For how long?

Ph.D. students enter the program with a commitment of at least three years of funding, primarily in the form of teaching assistantships. Most students receive an additional two years of funding through being the primary instructor for online courses. 

What other funding opportunities are available for graduate students?

The Department has several fellowships that students may apply for (see website) and the Graduate School also has several funding opportunities. The department also has competitive funds for conference travel and pre-dissertation research as well as dissertation writing fellowships.

Will I be required to teach?

The Department of Anthropology requires that all students do some teaching before they graduate. This can be done as a teaching assistant to a faculty member or you can teach your own course through UWW-online or RAP (Residential Academic programs) when selected, under the supervision of a faculty member.

If I have prior graduate work, can this be used to accelerate my time to degree in the graduate program?

Per the Graduate School you may be able to transfer outside credits into a Masters program (See details). You cannot transfer credits into a doctoral program.

My prior degree is not in Anthropology. Will that affect my application for admission?

No. Having a degree from another field will not affect admission decisions. However, if your background is not in Anthropology you may be asked to complete an MA or to take additional coursework as part of your graduate program.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the program or application process?

Contact the Graduate Program Director and/or Graduate Administrative Assistant with any further questions about the program or application process.  We also suggest contacting any faculty in the department with who you are interested in working with.

You can also contact Graduate Student Services for further information on the application process and university requirements. Link to Graduate School