PhD in Anthropology

Place, Space, & Adaptation

The Department of Anthropology and Geography at Colorado State University offers a Ph.D program in anthropology focused on Place, Space, and Adaptation. This innovative PhD in anthropology builds on the diverse research interests of our faculty who specialize in cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology as well as human and physical geography. The program provides students with the conceptual expertise and skills to address research questions that:

  • sit at the intersection of anthropology and geography
  • apply geographic methods to anthropological questions
  • critically evaluate the impact of place and space on human/ecosystem adaptation


Our faculty are accessible and active mentors who will encourage PhD students to engage meaningfully in research on topics such as forced displacement and resettlement, disaster-driven relocations, health disparities, phylogenetic and paleobiogeography, and landscape archaeology among others. Graduates of our program will leave with training and skills that can be leveraged in both academic and non-academic settings.


Highly qualified candidates will receive three years of funding in the form of graduate teaching assistantships which cover the cost of tuition and provide a monthly stipend. All applicants to the PhD anthropology program are automatically considered for these assistantships. Seed grants for graduate research are provided by the Anthropology Scholarship Endowment on a competitive basis, and Student Research Scholarships are available to support research as well as travel to conferences. Students are also expected to obtain funding from outside resources to support their dissertation research.

Application Instructions

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Admissions Form
  • Statement of Purpose (1-2 pages, single-spaced text)
    • See instructions below.
  • Resume
  • Copies of transcripts from each college/university attended
    • Previous institutions should submit official transcripts to CSU using institution code 4075.
    • Students can submit unofficial transcripts with their application. However, official transcripts must be provided within the first semester before the student can register for their second semester of graduate work. Admission may be rescinded due to non-compliance.
  • OPTIONAL: GRE General Test scores
    • Scores must be less than five years old.
    • The testing agency should submit scores to CSU using institution code 4075.
  • Writing sample
    • Select an example of academic writing that shows your capacity for rigorous analysis and independent thought as well as your writing skills. MA/MS theses, published papers on which you are the lead author, and term papers are all acceptable.
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • Letters from prior faculty familiar with your academic record are preferred.
    • Letters should be submitted electronically by the authors.
    • A third letter of recommendation is optional.
  • Recent TOEFL or Academic IELTS scores
    • Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than or in addition to English.
    • These are required of all applicants whose native language is not English or who have not received a Bachelors or MA/MS degree from an accredited college or university where the primary language of instruction is English. See CSU's English Proficiency guidelines for additional information.

The application deadline for the PhD program in Anthropology is January 15 for the fall semester of the same year. Late applications will not be accepted and new students are accepted for the fall semester only. Only applicants with an MA or MS degree in Anthropology/Geography or a closely related field will be considered. Application materials and instructions are available on the CSU Graduate School website.

Applicants to the PhD program in Anthropology must upload all supporting documents to their online applications via the Graduate School. Please do not send any materials directly to the Department of Anthropology and Geography.

The Statement of Purpose

We use the statement of purpose to assess the fit between applicants’ research interests and our program, as well as their potential for successfully completing a PhD. Applicants should clearly indicate how their interests relate to the program’s focus on place, space, and adaptation. In addition, applicants must describe their theoretical, topical, regional, and methodological interests in ways that make clear their fit with relevant faculty.

Applicants are required to contact relevant faculty to discuss their interests prior to submitting an application. NOTE: Teaching professors and instructors do not supervise graduate students. Please visit faculty pages to verify professors' titles. Applicants may also may wish to visit CSU before applying, which is welcomed but not required.

The statement should be between one and two pages in length, single-spaced text.

Program Requirements

Students will enter the program with roughly 30 credits of coursework from an MA or MS degree. The PhD program requires an additional 42 credits beyond the Master’s degree for a total of 72 credits of graduate work. These can include up to 12 credits for dissertation research and write-up.

  • Core Courses – two required classes (6 credits)
    • Place, space and adaptation
    • Anthropological theory
  • Methods Courses – three courses that are relevant to the student’s dissertation (9 credits)
    • At least three credits in anthropology and three in geography
  • Electives in theory and/or specific topics (15 credits)
    • Must include one course in each of the three subdisciplines of anthropology and one course from geography.
    • If these specific requirements are met at the Master’s level, then the student can choose any courses relevant to their training.
    • One elective or methods course (3 credits) must be taken outside the Department.

Additional credits for dissertation work, independent study, or electives (12 credits)

The Student Handbook describes the policies, procedures, and program requirements
for students who are enrolled in the Ph.D Program at CSU

Anthropology and Geography Ph.D Handbook, Spring 2023 edition (PDF)

Contact Graduate Coordinator for more Information