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Graduate Admissions FAQs

1. What are the minimum scores on the GRE to be considered for admission?

The Anthropology Department does not set minimum scores for the GRE. Most admitted applicants score at or within the 90th percentile. In Biological Anthropology, quantitative scores are especially important.  However, we recognize that standardized tests are not always the best measure of aptitude, so we evaluate the whole application.

2. Is there a minimum GPA requirement?

Yes, applicants must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.30.

3. What parts of the application are most important?

We evaluate applications to the graduate program in their entirety. We look for a clear statement of intent, GPA of 3.30 or above, strong letters of reference, and solid GRE scores. No single piece is considered the most important. Please visit our website, and especially our advice for prospective applicants, to see what makes a strong application packet.

4. I did not complete an undergraduate degree in Anthropology. Can I still be considered for the graduate program?

Applicants with a major in a related field (such as biology, sociology, geology, classics, history, historic preservation, or geography) will be considered only if they have a formal minor in Anthropology or its equivalent (at least five upper-division Anthropology courses).

Students applying to the MA program with a focus in Archaeology should demonstrate familiarity with lab and field work, either through completion of a field school or employment in the field. Students applying to the PhD program MUST have prior field and lab experience.

5. I did not complete my Bachelor’s nor my Master’s in Anthropology, but I would like to apply to the PhD program. Can I still be considered for admission?

A BA or MA degree in Anthropology or a minor in Anthropology and a degree in a related field is required for admission to the PhD program. Applicants with a major in a related field (such as biology, sociology, geology, classics, history, historic preservation, or geography) will be considered only if they have a formal minor in Anthropology or its equivalent (at least five upper-division Anthropology courses). Only students with GPAs above a 3.30 overall in undergraduate or graduate work will be considered for admission.

6. I completed my undergraduate degree in Anthropology at UTK and I would like to be admitted into the graduate program. What are my chances?

Students who completed undergraduate degrees in Anthropology at UTK must compete with all other applicants on an even field. Occasionally we accept students who completed their BA’s with us into the graduate program. Students who are well known to the department may actually find themselves at a disadvantage if they have not performed exceptionally well at the undergraduate level. The department also encourages diversification of training. If you want a PhD from UTK and you completed your BA with us, you might consider pursuing a Master’s degree elsewhere first, and then reapplying.

7. What are my chances of being accepted into the graduate program?

We do not have a set admission rate. Admission depends on many variables: the strength of your application relative to all other applications we receive; whether an appropriate faculty member is available and willing to advise new students; availability of funding; the fit between your interests and our program; and the total number of applications we receive in a given sub-discipline, etc. Our program in Biological Anthropology and especially Forensic Anthropology receives over one hundred applications every year, so obviously the admission rate in that program is low relative to number of applications received.

8. I would like to focus on two or more sub-disciplines of Anthropology at once, for example, Forensic and Cultural Anthropology, or Biological Anthropology and Archaeology. But the application requires me to indicate one sub-discipline. What should I do?

You are free to indicate more than one sub-discipline on your application. Faculty in the indicated sub-disciplines will review your application jointly and come to a collective decision about admission.  Your letter of intent should explain how your research interests are at the interface of two or more sub-disciplines. Anthropology is a holistic discipline and we welcome students who wish to focus on more than one sub-discipline.

9. I am interested in pursuing the Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights (DDHR) program. Is there anything additional I have to do to apply for that?

If you are interested in participating in the DDHR program, please indicate that in your letter of intent and explain how the program fits your particular interests and goals. You might also consider contacting the DDHR faculty at ddhr@utk.edu. There is an additional application for students planning to complete the Graduate Certificate in DDHR available on the departmental website; however, this is not required for admission and there is no specific deadline. The DDHR application process is only to track those students participating in the program and can be completed after you have matriculated.

10. How can I find out about faculty research expertise?

Click here to view faculty profiles and CVs. Many faculty include links to their published work on their profile page.  If you would like to study with a particular faculty member, we recommend sending them an email to introduce yourself.  We expect prospective students to make the effort to learn about faculty research expertise through the available information. 

11. What is the average length of time it takes to complete a graduate degree in Anthropology?

It depends on several factors, including your existing preparation in Anthropology; your ability to identify and pursue a sustained research focus; the number and type of other responsibilities you have that require your time and attention; and the resources available to you. It also varies by type of research. If your project entails working with an existing data set and you do not need to travel for long periods, you may finish more rapidly. Projects that require long periods of fieldwork and/or language mastery may take considerably longer. In general, though, we like to see students complete a Master’s degree within three years of matriculation, and a PhD within five years of matriculation.  

12. If I receive funding through the department, does it automatically renew, and for how long will I have it?

New and returning students who wish to be considered for funding in the form of teaching assistantships must apply (or re-apply) every year. Pending availability, funding is typically renewed for students who perform adequately in their assistantship duties and show evidence of progress in their graduate program. If you are selected for an assistantship at the Master’s level, you may be funded for a maximum of 3 years, and at the PhD level, for a maximum of 5 years.  It is not guaranteed you will maintain funding for this entire period, however. Students should view funding as an investment the department and university makes in their successful training and career development. It should not be viewed as either a “job” or an entitlement. The goal is for funded students to successfully complete the program in a timely fashion.  

13. Can or should I send application materials in hard copy and/or as email attachments?

No. Our application procedure has moved to an entirely electronic, centralized submission system called ADMIT. All application materials should be submitted through the Graduate School website and ADMIT system. This includes documents like letters of reference, which your referees should upload themselves, and supplementary materials like your letter of intent, transcript, and writing sample, which you will upload yourself. (NOTE: these are REQUIRED by the Anthropology department). Hard copies of documents or additional email attachments may become lost in the shuffle and often require us to scan and upload them manually. We strongly encourage applicants NOT to send materials by hard copy or email attachment. If exceptional circumstances demand that you send hard copies or email attachments, contact us at UTAnthGradAdmissions@utk.edu.

14. What should I submit as a writing sample?

Writing samples of less than 20 pages (preferably 10 pages or less) must be uploaded through the centralized ADMIT system. If you wish to include a link to your thesis, you may do so in your letter of intent. Please do not try to upload your entire thesis. 

15. What are the deadlines for applying to the graduate program in Anthropology?

The deadline set by the Department of Anthropology is December 1. Please note that this is EARLIER than the deadline listed on the Graduate School website where you will submit your application materials. The Department’s deadlines trump the Graduate School’s.   For international students, there may be additional deadlines and application requirements set by the Graduate School. It is the applicant’s responsibility to understand and meet all necessary deadlines and requirements.

16. I would like to be considered for a teaching assistantship, but I do not see where I can indicate that on my application.

Applications for funding from the department are separate from the application for admission, and the deadline is February 1.  If you are a new applicant, therefore, you must submit all application materials for admission by December 1, but return to the website and submit a funding application by February 1 to be considered. Click here to complete the application for an assistantship. 

Teaching assistantships within the department are limited. Applicants are encouraged to visit the Graduate School website for information about other funding opportunities at UT.

17. What if I miss a deadline? Or what if my letters of reference are late?

If you miss the December 1 deadline for the application altogether, we may not be able to consider you for admission that cycle. However, depending on the circumstances, exceptions can be made, so please contact the Director of Graduate Admissions, at UTAnthGradAdmissions@utk.edu.

After we begin processing applications, you will be notified if we have not received a required piece of documentation. We typically get a large number of applicants within a day or two or on the day of the deadline. These applicants should not expect notification of missing documents; it is often after the deadline before we have time to check to see if everything has arrived. If your application is missing a document, you will have an opportunity to rectify the situation. However, keep in mind that we receive a high volume of applications and it is your responsibility to be sure all pieces of your application arrive in time. We cannot guarantee admission consideration if your application, or any part of it, is incomplete or late.

If you miss the December 1 deadline for the application altogether, we may not be able to consider you for admission that cycle. However, depending on the circumstances, exceptions can be made, so please contact the Director of Graduate Admissions, at UTAnthGradAdmissions@utk.edu.

After we begin processing applications, you will be notified if we have not received a required piece of documentation. We typically get a large number of applicants within a day or two or on the day of the deadline. These applicants should not expect notification of missing documents; it is often after the deadline before we have time to check to see if everything has arrived. If your application is missing a document, you will have an opportunity to rectify the situation. However, keep in mind that we receive a high volume of applications and it is your responsibility to be sure all pieces of your application arrive in time. We cannot guarantee admission consideration if your application, or any part of it, is incomplete or late.

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