How to Apply?

To apply online, go to the UI Graduate and Professional Admissions website.

After you submit your application, you will receive email instructions on how to establish your HawkID and password in order to access your Admissions Profile on MyUI, our online portal for students. All supporting materials can and should be uploaded through your Admissions Profile. If your academic program requires letters of recommendation, you will be asked to provide the contact information of your recommenders on your Profile. The recommender will then receive an email from the Office of Admissions instructing them on how to upload a recommendation letter and/or recommendation form.

Applicants for admission to the graduate program must meet the Admission Requirements of the Graduate College and the department offering the degree program (review the General Catalog for departmental requirements). See the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website for additional information.

Program Specifics

The Department of Anthropology’s PhD program provides students with solid foundations in three sub-fields of the discipline--and supports their advanced specialization in one or more of the three, as they work with faculty mentors to complete an independent dissertation research project.  PhD students are typically awarded a master’s degree upon fulfilling program requirements at the end of their second year in the doctoral program.  In addition to our PhD program, we offer a master’s program specializing in Cultural Resource Management.  Our graduate programs train professional anthropologists who go on to work at universities, colleges, museums, and a variety of governmental and non-governmental agencies.

Students applying for admission to a graduate program in anthropology will be considered regardless of the field of their previous training. However, students without previous training in anthropology may be asked to perform additional work as needed to achieve the knowledge and skills expected for the degree desired. Applicants with a master's degree in another discipline are normally admitted as a first-year graduate student.

Our graduate admissions process prioritizes investing in a smaller number of students who will best benefit from the department’s intellectual and material resources, rather than admitting many students who are then forced to compete under conditions of scarcity.  Since campus resources and individual faculty workloads constantly shift over time, our incoming cohorts of graduate students fluctuate in size from year to year.  Given these variables, we are not able to admit and support all of the qualified students who apply to our graduate programs each year.

Candidates for admission to the graduate program are required to submit the following documentation:

  • a completed university application form
  • transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work
  • three letters of recommendation from individuals competent to judge the candidate’s potential for graduate training
  • at least one example of your previous work (e.g., a term paper or an original experiment)
  • a statement of research interest describing why you would like to undertake graduate study in our program

To be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program at Iowa, applicants with an M.A. degree from another university are required to submit a copy of their Master’s thesis; in cases where the M.A. has been granted without thesis or where the Master’s thesis is not yet complete, copies of three papers completed in graduate school should be submitted instead.

Application documents are evaluated as follows:

Statement of interest/intended research project: Strong statements of interest provide a focused description of your educational goals and career objectives, and clearly describe how these goals and objectives would be served by faculty mentoring and other resources available through our department and campus.  We therefore encourage prospective applicants to examine the faculty profiles available on our People page , and to contact faculty with relevant interests.  Applicants whose goals include a PhD should describe a potential research project: What topic do you plan to study?  What are specific examples of existing scholarship about this topic, in anthropology and/or closely related fields?  Where do you plan to conduct this research, and why is that setting a good place for you to do so?  While project plans are normally preliminary and subject to change at this early stage, your responses to these questions will help us to evaluate your application.” 

Transcripts: Earning strong grades in anthropology and related courses, and earning progressively stronger grades over the course of one’s academic career to date, indicate good potential for success in graduate study.  If there are lapses or gaps in your academic record, your statement of interest and/or letters of recommendation will ideally help to explain these.

Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation should come from professionals who know you well enough to evaluate your potential for success in graduate study. Professors with whom you have taken multiple courses, who have supervised you in an independent study or honors research course, or with whom you have worked in a field school or laboratory setting are often ideal people to ask.  One letter could also come from an employer or supervisor who can speak to characteristics such as work ethic, maturity, and focus. When requesting a letter of recommendation, including your resume/CV and a copy of your statement of interest will help the recommender to write a more detailed and personalized letter.

Writing sample/previous work: Examples of previous work are an important component of the application.  Writing samples should demonstrate good writing and analytical thinking skills.  Term papers from courses or reports from independent research projects, for example, should state a claim or argument and then support it with evidence.