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Application FAQs

How are applicatio​ns evaluated?

All applications are first screened for completeness by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions staff before being forwarded to the Department of Anthropology.  Once at the Department, the Graduate Admissions Committee reads each application individually.  The Committee looks for evidence of excellence in foundational scholarly skills like careful reading, analysis, writing, and argumentation, along with the ability to communicate a well-informed interest in a particular research topic.  The Committee also considers how well an applicant’s research interests match Departmental strengths.  In early spring of each year, we invite a number of applicants to the University for in-person interviews.

Will my application be disqualified if my test scores do not arrive by the deadline?

The online application form and fee, statement of purpose, and writing sample must be submitted by the application deadline in all cases.  The supporting materials (recommendation letters, GRE scores, TOEFL scores, unofficial copies of transcripts) may follow soon afterwards.  Please do not worry if they cannot be sent early enough to arrive by the deadline, so long as we receive them within a week or two afterwards.

Is there a minimum GRE score for acceptance?

No. We use test cores as one component of a holistic evaluation of each applicant and are looking for all around excellence.  Where scores are not high, we may place special emphasis on evaluating the overall quality of scholarly skills evident in the applicant’s statement of purpose and writing sample.

Does it matter if my GRE scores are on the old scoring scale?

No.  We will be accepting both the old and the new scoring scales for the next few years. You may submit your scores from any GRE tests you have taken within the past five years.  If your scores are more than five years old, you will need to re-take the test.

How do I know whether to check the box for applying to the MA or the PhD Degree program?

Your answer to this question should depend on your goals.  If your goal is a career of college or university teaching and research, a PhD is necessary.  Be advised that PhD studies in Anthropology take five or more years to complete, including at least two years of coursework (depending on whether you enter with an MA), a year of research preparation and grant writing, a year or more of original field research, and finally the writing of the dissertation. If your goal is ultimately to work toward the PhD degree, you should check the PhD box on the online application.

The MA program can be completed in one to two years. If you are sure that the MA is the highest degree you want to pursue in Anthropology, then check the MA box.  If you check the MA box now and change your mind after matriculating, you will need to reapply for admission to the PhD degree program.

Can my application be reviewed after the deadline, for admission to the program beginning in the spring term?

We encourage all applicants to submit their applications by posted departmental deadlines. However, applications for admission to the stand-alone MA program may be considered on a rolling basis during regular admission years (our next admission cycle will begin in Fall of 2023). MA applications will be considered on this basis at the discretion of the graduate committee. Please direct queries and requests to the Director of Graduate Admissions.

When is it best to visit Charlottesville to meet with faculty members and current students?

Since admissions and funding offers are extended to only a small fraction of those who apply, we encourage applicants to wait until they receive an admissions offer in the spring before planning a visit.  If there are particular faculty members whose work especially interests you and you would like to consult with them before you apply, we suggest getting in touch by email or phone directly, or through the Director of Graduate Admissions.

If I am admitted to the Anthropology Graduate Program, when should I expect to begin?

We ask students to arrive around mid-August, at least a few days before the first day of classes, which is usually in the third week of the month.  The Director of Graduate Studies will send you a detailed calendar of orientation events. 

Most students arrive in time to participate in the University-wide August Teaching Workshop held over two days on the week before fall classes begin.  More information on this workshop may be found on the University’s Teaching Resource Center website at:

The Academic Calendars for the University as a whole and for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are posted online at: .

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?

For more information on the Graduate Program, click here, or contact the Director of Graduate Admissions