University of Wisconsin–Madison

General course of study

The goal of our graduate program is to produce scholars and educators of the highest professional caliber in the general field of anthropology. To achieve that goal students are required to complete a series of steps whose general progress is much the same for each of our three sections. Following are the broad outlines of these steps.

  1. Incoming graduate students are expected to take courses within the department, and on occasion with their advisor’s guidance, outside the department. The aim of these courses is threefold: to prepare students for their qualifying exams; dissertation research and writing; and for their future career.
  2. Students must meet the qualifying exam requirements of their chosen area within Anthropology. Successful completion of these exams would advance a student to the next stage of graduate study, which is the preparation of a dissertation topic.
  3. Students must prepare and be examined upon preliminary proposals for their dissertation research. Successful completion of the Preliminary Examination, minor requirements, graduate school requirements and section requirements, advances the students to candidacy as dissertators.
  4. Students must conduct dissertation research and write their dissertations. The conduct of these endeavors, the time spent, data collected, and drafts critiqued, will vary greatly from section to section and from student to student. To be acceptable as a dissertation, the research must constitute an original contribution to that field of scholarship.
  5. Students will defend their dissertation before a faculty committee. By university regulation, “A Ph.D. final examination committee must have at least five current graduate faculty members, and at least one of these must represent a graduate field outside your major”. The Cultural and Archaeology sections have additional requirements (see individual areas for more information).