PhD in Anthropology at Harvard University: Why Pursue Anthropology, Tuition Fees and Duration

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Are you interested in pursuing a PhD in Anthropology at Harvard University? Its Department of Anthropology is a global research leader in the discipline. In this blog, we will explore why you should choose Harvard University anthropology PhD programs, the study areas you can specialise in. We will also look at the program’s acceptance rate, the stipend, the entry requirements, the application process, and the documents required. Read on to know more!

Degree OfferedDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
SpecializationsArchaeology or Social Anthropology
Application Deadline1 December (for the following Fall semester)
Program Duration5 years
Acceptance Rate~5%
Ranking#1 in the world for Anthropology

Why Choose Harvard University Anthropology PhD Programs?

Founded in 1887, Harvard’s anthropology faculty are internationally recognized for their research and teaching. They cover a wide range of topics and regions, from archaeology to medical anthropology, from Africa to Oceania. The department also takes credit for producing many distinguished scholars and leaders in the field, such as Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Clifford Geertz, David Maybury-Lewis, and Arthur Kleinman. 

Harvard’s Anthropology PhD programs offer rigorous, comprehensive training that prepares students for academic and non-academic careers. Students have access to exceptional resources like the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Harvard University Library, the Harvard University Press, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. They also benefit from the diverse intellectual community that Harvard and the Boston area provide, allowing them to interact and collaborate with scholars and students from other disciplines and institutions.

Harvard University Anthropology PhD Study Areas

The Harvard University Anthropology PhD offers 2 specializations: Archaeology and Social Anthropology. They are as follows:

Study AreaTuition FeesDuration
Archaeology$54,480 per year5 years
Social Anthropology

Harvard University Anthropology PhD Acceptance Rate

The acceptance rate for the Harvard University Anthropology PhD program is around 5%, meaning it is highly selective and competitive. It varies depending on the program and the year, but it is generally around 10% or lower. For instance, in 2020, the archaeology program received 64 applications and admitted 6 students and the social anthropology program received 156 applications and admitted 12 students. The acceptance rate also depends on the quality and fit of the applicants, as well as the availability of funding and faculty supervision.


The minimum stipend offered for PhD students in Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) is $50,000 per year. This applies to all GSAS students, including those in the Anthropology program. Previously, stipends varied according to program and discipline. 

However, in December 2023, GSAS raised the minimum stipend to ensure a living wage for all its PhD students. This marks a significant increase, particularly for students in the social sciences and humanities, where stipends were typically lower.

Entry Requirements 

To be eligible to apply to the Harvard University Anthropology PhD program, applicants must satisfy the following basic entry requirements:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution, preferably in anthropology or a related field
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.5 or equivalent
  3. A minimum GRE score of 160 (verbal section), 150 (quantitative section), and 4.5 (analytical writing section)
  4. Minimum English Language Requirements (for non-native speakers):
  1. A statement of purpose explaining the applicant’s research interests, and goals.
  2. A writing sample demonstrating the applicant’s analytical and writing skills, such as a term paper, a thesis, or a published article.
  3. 3 letters of recommendation from academic or professional references 
  4. A curriculum vitae (CV) summarizing the applicant’s education, work, research, and other relevant experiences and achievements.

Application Process

To apply to Harvard University anthropology PhD programs, applicants must follow the steps given below:

  1. Complete and submit the online application form through the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website by 15 December.
  2. Pay the application fee of $105 by credit card or check
  3. Upload the required documents.
  4. Request the official test scores (GRE, TOEFL, IELTS) to be sent directly to Harvard University by the testing agencies.
  5. Request the letters of recommendation to be submitted online by the recommenders.
  6. Wait for the admission decision, which is usually announced in late February or early March
  7. If admitted, accept or decline the offer of admission by 15 April.

Documents Required

The documents required to apply to Harvard University anthropology PhD programs are:

  • Online application form
  • Application fee
  • Statement of purpose
  • Writing sample
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Official test scores
  • Letters of recommendation


Q1. Do I need a Master’s degree to apply to the PhD program?

Ans: While a Master’s degree isn’t required, most successful applicants have one in Anthropology or a closely related field. For the Medical Anthropology specialization, a Master’s is mandatory. Harvard also offers an internal Master’s option as part of the PhD program for exceptional cases.

Q2. What are the research opportunities available in the program?

Ans: Harvard has incredible research resources, including the Peabody Museum and various centres with diverse geographical and thematic areas. The program actively supports student research through funding opportunities, faculty mentorship, and field research workshops.

Q3. Is it possible to focus my studies on a specific area of Anthropology like archaeology, medical anthropology, or museum studies?

Ans: While there are 2 official specializations (Archaeology and Social Anthropology), the program allows you to tailor your coursework and research to specific interests. You can collaborate with faculty experts in various subfields like Medical Anthropology, Museum Studies, and more.

We hope that this blog gave a complete insight into the Harvard University Anthropology PhD. For more content on universities to study abroad, start following Leverage Edu today. Thank you for reading!

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