Graduate Admissions FAQ

You may also wish to refer to the Graduate School FAQ.

I have a definite interest in anthropology. With whom can I discuss my interests?

Review the University of Washington faculty list and contact directly faculty who are working in various areas that interest you. Note: Applicants admitted to the program are usually focused in the anthropological areas they wish to pursue.

What is the average age of the graduate students?

The anthropology graduate students range in age from 25-57. The average age is 33.

I received my undergraduate degree at the UW. How does the Graduate Program feel about UW students applying to the program?

The department does not discriminate against UW graduates. Faculty may advise you, however, to consider other institutions to broaden your educational experience.

What are the sub-disciplines within the department?

The Graduate Program consists of three PhD programs: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Sociocultural Anthropology.

Is it true that the Sociocultural Program has staggered admission?

Yes, the sociocultural anthropology PhD program only accepts applications once, every other year. Application cycles begin with an application in an odd numbered year (ex. 2019, 2021, etc.) for admission to an even numbered year (ex. 2020, 2022, etc.)

Do you have a program in medical anthropology?

The department does not have a formal program in medical anthropology. It is possible, however, to do a concentration in medical anthropology by creating, in consultation with one’s advisor, a program appropriate for the student's interests.

Do you have a program in environmental anthropology?

The department no longer has a formal program in environmental anthropology. It is possible, however, to do a concentration in environmental anthropology by creating, in consultation with one's advisor, a program appropriate for the student's interests.

Do you have a program in ethnomusicology?

The department does not have a formal program in ethnomusicology. However, it is possible to do a concentration in ethnomusicology, within the sociocultural program, by creating in consultation with one’s advisor a program combining courses from anthropology and ethnomusicology. Applicants can also apply directly to the School of Music for a PhD in Ethnomusicology.

Can I apply for a Master's Degree in Anthropology?

The anthropology Graduate Program at the University of Washington is a PhD program. A Master's degree may be earned while completing the requirements for the PhD as a step along the way.

I have an MA degree already. Must I get another in the UW Anthropology program?

That is up to the student and his or her major advisor. Although a University of Washington MA degree is not required to receive the PhD, the majority of graduate students in the department obtain the degree.

I do not have an educational background in anthropology? May I still apply to the program?

Yes. Although preferred, a degree in anthropology (either a BA or MA) is not required to apply to our program. The three sub-disciplines are structured to accommodate students who hold degrees in other related fields. It is however, highly advisable to have completed relevant coursework, and in the case of the archaeology track, have attended an archaeology field school.

How long does it take to go through the program?

Depending upon subdiscipline, length of field studies, personal and professional factors, etc., it can take as little as five (5) to as many as ten (10) years to complete the PhD. The average time to degree is around eight (8) years.

How much does it cost to go to the UW as a graduate student?

The approximate cost of one year for a full-time, first-year, non-resident/international student (2019-20) is $55,635. This figure includes the cost of tuition ($33,534) and estimated books and living expenses for one year (not including summer). Expenses are subject to change without notice. International students cannot be admitted unless proof of funding is submitted. The Graduate School posts projected expenses for international students on the following web site:

The approximate cost of one year for a full-time, first-year resident student (2019-20) is $37,923. This figure includes the cost of tuition ($16,272) and estimated books and living expenses for one year (not including summer).Expenses are subject to change without notice.

Where can I get the money to attend the program?

There are minimal opportunities for funding from the Department of Anthropology, so applicants are encouraged to seek funding outside the department.  Applicants are urged to review the funding opportunities available on the Graduate School web page and department webpage.

Is there other funding available at the University of Washington that I may be eligible for?

The department is able to nominate admitted students for fellowships designated in area studies (e.g., China, South Asia, and Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies).

Additionally a limited number of Foreign Languages Area Study (FLAS) Fellowships are available in several language areas for entering students. Students who apply to our program are strongly encouraged to apply for FLAS fellowships. For further information, applicants should contact the appropriate department in the Jackson School of International Studies, 111 Thompson Hall, Box 353650, University of Washington, Seattle WA 98195-3650 (phone: 206-543-6001; e-mail:

And finally, the Graduate School maintains a list of fellowships and scholarship that applicants should consider when applying:

How do I apply for financial aid at the University of Washington?

Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at 105 Schmitz Hall, Box 355870 (phone: 206-543-6101, e-mail: for applications to determine eligibility for work-study employment and loans. (Note: The Financial Aid forms are due as early as January 1 for priority consideration for the following academic year).

Are GRE scores required?

Applicants to our program do not need to take the GRE. However, if you are applying to the Biological Anthropology PhD track program they are strongly recommended.

How does the Department of Anthropology evaluate applications to the department?

In addition to strong GPA, letters of recommendation, etc., the programs pay close attention to the statement of purpose: Is the statement clear and focused? Does the applicant know what he/she wants to do within his/her area of interest? Does the applicant write maturely and well?

May I have the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test waived?

No. This test is required of all international applicants by the department as well as the Graduate School . However, international applicants with a bachelor's degree from an accredited English speaking institution do not need to submit a TOEFL score. Admission will not be granted by the Graduate School unless minimum English competency has been met.

What is the passing test score for the TOEFL?

See the Graduate School Memo 8 for the most recent English language requirements for international students:

Do I need to submit official transcripts directly to the department?

No. You are required to submit your unofficial transcripts as part of the on-line application process. If admitted to the program official transcripts will be requested upon acceptance of the offer of admission. 

Can I have more than three letters of recommendation sent for my application?

The department requests three only. Please do not have additional letters sent. In addition to all the required application materials, an application file is considered complete and is evaluated by the faculty as soon as three letters are present.

Must I have my letters of recommendation submitted through the online application to anthropology? 

This is expected. However, if a recommender is unable (or unwilling) to submit a letter of recommendation directly through the online system, please still list them in your application and have them mail their letter directly to the department.

I have been out of school for many years and I have no faculty that remember me or can write letters for me. Who can I get to write the letters of recommendation?

You may have your letters written by professionals or others with whom you have worked. Letters should address what qualities you have that will make you a successful graduate student and why they feel you would do well.

How will I know my file is complete or is missing any materials?

You will have access to your online graduate school application and when your file is complete this will be reflected in the information available to you. Additionally, the department will contact you via e-mail.

When will I know if I have been accepted or not? 

Applicants are notified by early March.

I applied last year and was not accepted (or was accepted and could not come). Can I reapply for this coming year?

All applicants reapplying to the Department of Anthropology must reapply to the Graduate School (and pay the application fee). You may reapply directly through the Graduate School website at:

If I am admitted, can I defer entry into the program the following year?

The department does not automatically offer deferments, however admitted students requesting deferment are considered on a case by case basis.

Is a personal interview required to apply to the department?

No. Applicants however are welcome to visit the department. Especially if you live in the area. Please contact various faculty and students directly for appointments. The Graduate Program Advisor may be able to assist you in obtaining contact information.

How many applications do you receive and how many spaces are available?

The Archaeology program receives approximately 15-30 applications with space for approximately 2-4 students, the Biological Program receives approximately 15-30 applications with space for approximately 2-4 students, and the Sociocultural Program receives approximately 100-120 applications with space for approximately 8-10 students.