Applications and Admissions





Special Admission Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit 1 official transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a Statement of Academic Purpose, a writing sample (course paper, term paper, etc.) and 3 letters of evaluation from academic sources. All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS. For more information, refer to our Admissions Supporting Materials and Frequently Asked Questions page.



Free-Standing Master's
(including M.A. Program in Museum Anthropology)



Deadline for Fall Admission:

December 5, 2019

Thursday, February 13, 2020 (final deadline of Friday, March 13, 2020)





Writing Sample:

yes (15-20) double spaced pages)

yes (10-15 double spaced pages)

GRE General:



GRE Subject:



Statement of Purpose

not to exceed 1000 words


The Department of Anthropology at Columbia University offers a full-time doctoral program of instruction which prepares students for teaching at the university level, for museum and archaeological work, and for independent research and writing. The department also offers an M.A. degree which may be pursued through full-time or part-time study. Fields of study include sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology.

Other institutions in the area, including the regional Institutes at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, and New York's museums, enrich the Columbia experience. In addition, students may participate in the consortium of graduate schools in the metropolitan area including New York University, The City University of New York, and the New School for Social Research.

Students in the Biological Anthropology Program may participate in the New York Consortium of Evolutionary Primatologists (Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology) and the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC).

Research facilities include several archaeology and biological anthropology laboratories, the Center for Studies in Ethnomusicology, the American Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the University libraries, and the computer center.

Additional information on the Department of Anthropology's graduate programs and admissions can be found on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

  • Applications may be filed online. They are available through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences online application
  • Please note that we require that a writing sample be included with your application.
  • If you would like to visit the department, we suggest that you arrange an appointment directly, via email, with the faculty. If possible, we suggest that your visit include a Wednesday Franz Boas Seminar. At the reception following the Seminar, you will have the opportunity to meet faculty and students. Please see the Calendar for up-to-date information on speakers and lectures.


    Application materials are available in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. To request a Bulletin of General Announcements and an application, please call or write to:

    Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

  • Office of Admissions
    107 Low Library, MC 4303
    535 West 116th Street
    New York, NY 10027
    (212) 854-6729

    Before contacting the GSAS Office of Admissions, please first read our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Faculty contacts for each program may be viewed by following the links on the MA Programs, PhD Programs, and Dual-Degree & Certificate Programs pages

Back to Top 


Fields of Study


Columbia has a long and distinguished history in the fields of social and cultural anthropology and many of the most important figures in the discipline have been members of its faculty. Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Julian Steward, Ralph Linton, and Robert Murphy to name but a few, defined the parameters of social and cultural anthropology during their years in the Columbia Anthropology department. The present faculty builds upon the excellence of the past by expanding into new areas of research at the forefront of anthropological scholarship, including the relationship between political economy and ritual, nationalism and religion, meaning systems social change, gender and race relations, and the impact of profound economic transitions on culture at the local and national level. We approach these conceptual interests from a variety of theoretical perspectives—symbolic and historical anthropology, ethno history and economic analysis, aesthetic and political theory—among them. Our subfield orientations include the study of legal, linguistic, medical, and political systems in urban, suburban, and rural societies.

Students are able to pursue this range of anthropological concerns in a myriad of geographical settings since the expertise of the faculty includes the study of North Africa and the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, South Asia, Central and South America, East Asia (including China, Japan, and Korea), Native North America, and the contemporary United States.

Students in cultural anthropology are also encouraged to take advantage of Columbia's strengths in related departments. Eight interdisciplinary, regional institutes within the University provide opportunities for area-based studies focusing on the Soviet Union (the Harriman Institute), East Asia, Western Europe, the Middle East, East Central Europe, American Culture Studies, African Studies, Latin American and Iberian Studies, and Southern Asia. Doctoral students in anthropology may pursue "certificates" in area studies through these institutes of our School of International and Public Affairs. This enables anthropology students to work closely with fellow area specialists in history, economics, and political science. The Center for Research in the Social Sciences provides further avenues of interdisciplinary research at the intersection of anthropology and sociology.


Anthropological archaeology is highly diverse at Columbia, encompassing prehistoric, historic, and ethnoarchaeological approaches. Linked in various ways with the American Museum of Natural History, the program has particular strengths in North American, Andean, and African archaeology, but we accommodate a very wide range of student research interests. Common to all teaching and research is a strongly anthropological orientation and a respect for fieldwork and data analysis.

Advanced courses and seminars cover such areas as the Southwestern United States, Andean South America, and Africa; course are also periodically taught in the archaeology of Egypt and the Near East. The range of theoretical and topical issues includes materiality, gender and social status, empires, landscape, and political and economic organization. Training is also offered in museology and lab and data analysis.

Opportunities to participate in faculty research vary from year to year. In recent years members of the archaeology faculty have conducted prehistoric and historic research in Peru, Argentina, Manhattan, New Mexico, and Madagascar. Graduate students have worked in those locations, as well as Egypt, Cyprus, Ireland, Panama, and England. The faculty encourages field research early in graduate training, and funding is available for student fieldwork.

Although a basic core of archaeological knowledge and expertise is essential for all students, the program allows a great deal of flexibility to accommodate particular interests. Programs of study that crosscut traditional boundaries are encouraged. Columbia offers many kinds of specialized research within the University, and New York City offers many more. Archaeology students may draw on the educational and scientific resources of Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia's Department of Art History and Archaeology, the Anthropology Department at the American Museum of Natural History, and many more museums.


The study of biological anthropology at Columbia began at the turn of the century with the anthropometric work of Franz Boas. Today, this field continues to focus on the evolutionary significance of biological diversity in humans and their closest relatives, the nonhuman primates. Among our faculty, three critical areas of research are represented: the evolution of the human brain and comparative primate neuroanatomy; the genetics of wild primate populations and primate molecular evolution and systematics; and the behavioral ecology of wild and captive primates.

Doctoral study in these areas of biological anthropology is now offered by the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B), which offers the Ph.D. in Evolutionary Primatology. Columbia has offered a Ph.D. program in Evolutionary Primatology for nearly a decade with most aspects of the progrm coordinated with the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP). NYCEP, a consortium of the City University of New York, Columbia University, New York University, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, provides a multi-institutional venue for graduate training leading to the Ph.D., which emphasizes all aspects of the behavioral, morphological and evolutionary biology of primates. Course offerings in this program are coordinated across the NYCEP institutions. Click here for further details about the Evolutionary Primatology Ph.D. program.

Back to Top 

Program Contacts

If you are interested in joining one of our programs please contact the appropriate advisor listed below. Please contact individual faculty members for information about their research interests or the content of their courses.


Brian Larkin, Director of Graduate Studies and first year PhD Advisor
Office:  411 Milbank, Barnard
Ext. Phone: 212-851-5402

Marilyn Ivy, Director of Undergraduate Studies (Fall 2018)
Office:  864 Schermerhorn Extension
Ext. Phone: 212-851-4566

Ellen Marakowitz, M.A. Advisor
Office: 469 Schermerhorn Extension
Phone: 212-854-8268

David Scott, Chair of Anthropology Department
Office: 958 Schermerhorn Extension
Phone: (212) 854-4561


Museum Anthropology

Brian Boyd
Director of Museum Anthropology; Program Director at the Columbia Center for Archaeology
Office: 956 Schermerhorn Extension
Phone: 212- 854-4564


Zoe Crossland, Director at the Columbia Center for Archaeology
Office: 965 Schermerhorn Extension
Phone: 212-854-7465




Back to Top