Program of Study

Full standing as a doctoral candidate within the Department is attained by completion of the following: (a) a minimum of 18 credits of coursework; (b) an acceptable research proposal; and (c) satisfactory performance in a Comprehensive Examination taken within three years of the commencement of the program. The candidate may then proceed with research and preparation of a PhD dissertation under the direction of a Supervisory Committee. The candidate completes the degree upon successfully defending their dissertation in both Department and University examinations. Students are expected to attain their degrees within a maximum of six years.

The PhD program is administered by an Anthropology Graduate Studies Committee (AGSC) made up of the Graduate Advisor, three faculty members and two student representatives. The AGSC is responsible for admissions, awards, and oversight of students’ progress. The following guidelines provide a comprehensive guide to the program. Please study them carefully. Further information on Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations can be found in the UBC Calendar. If you have further questions, you should consult with your supervisor or a member of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Chair of Supervisory Committee (Supervisor)

As soon as possible after admission to the program, and before the end of the first term, each student must select with mutual agreement a Chair (Supervisor) whose competencies are appropriate to the intended field of study. The Chair would normally be an Associate or Full Professor of Anthropology. Under special circumstances, the AGSC can petition to allow an Assistant Professor to act as a student’s supervisor. FACULTY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CHAIR MORE THAN SEVEN GRADUATE COMMITTEES (MA and PhD). It is in your interest to consult with faculty early about supervision and to consider alternate supervisors. Faculty must indicate in writing on the student’s program record that they have accepted a position as Supervisor.

Students must consult with their Supervisor no later than the first week of September concerning their first year program (especially course selections and forming a committee).

Supervisory Committee

As soon as possible, at least two additional faculty members with competencies appropriate to the proposed field of study should be invited by the student to form, together with the Chair, the student’s Supervisory Committee. The Committee may include one or more members from outside the Department. Supervisory Committee members may be changed with the agreement of the Chair and other members of the Committee. Students are advised to seek replacements for members who take leaves of absence. A Chair must be replaced, by an acting Chair or permanently, while on leave. All changes to the Supervisory Committee should be communicated to the AGSC via forms available in the Graduate Office.

Changes in membership of the Supervisory Committee may not be made within a period of three months prior to the scheduled date of the Departmental examination without showing due cause to the AGSC, and are not permitted after the Department dissertation examination.

Graduate Program Record

As soon as possible after admission to the program, and no later than the end of the first term of study, the student must meet with their Supervisory Committee to complete the Graduate Program Record (or available from the Graduate Secretary). In addition to biographical information and details of work done prior to admission to the PhD program, it will include details of the proposed course of study i.e., course numbers, titles, credit values, and names of instructors). Once completed, the Record form must be submitted to the AGSC for review and approval.

The Graduate Program Record is a permanent guide and record of progress in which courses, grades, information on the dissertation, leaves, and other pertinent information is entered. It is kept in the student’s file and on computer (in database form). The student and the Supervisory Committee must review the record at least once a year (in April) and preferably more often. Significant alterations in an approved program — including changes in coursework, dissertation topic, and committee membership as well as leaves — must be reported to the AGSC for approval before being recorded in the Graduate Program Record.


PhD students must take at least 18 credits of coursework. This normally includes Anthropology 506 (the pro-seminar) and ANTH 500 (History of Anthropological Thought), unless the student has already taken these courses. Students who have taken an equivalent course to ANTH 500 at the MA level at a different university may apply to the AGSC to be released from the requirement. Students may also be required as a condition of admission to take other courses to gain mastery of core subjects in the discipline. Up to 12 credits may be taken in the form of supervised reading courses where appropriate graduate seminars are not available and upon the agreement of instructors. The 18 credits of core courses will normally be in anthropology at the graduate level. The Supervisory Committee may require additional coursework, beyond 18 credits, including courses at the undergraduate level, in order to prepare students for research in their chosen field.