Graduate Program

Brown University’s doctoral program allows students to pursue a wide range of ethnographic and theoretical interests, while integrating graduate students into the dynamic intellectual life of the department, university, and discipline through a holistic approach to the study of human sociality, past and present. The value of the training we offer is reflected in the success of our graduates.  They have found academic and professional positions at leading universities and colleges, museums, research centers, and in industry, where they draw directly on their anthropological expertise. 

While all of our doctoral students complete a core curriculum stressing comprehensive grounding in the field’s key methods and theories, our students specialize in one of three areas of faculty strength: socio-cultural anthropology, anthropological archaeology, and linguistic anthropology.  Some students further specialize in one of our particular areas of strength, including demographic anthropology, the anthropology of development, Mesoamerican archaeology, historical archaeology, medical anthropology, urban anthropology, environmental anthropology, and gender. Some of these specializations entail formal affiliation with other units on campus, including the Population Studies and Training Center and the Graduate Program in Development.

Prospective students should review our information on admissions and funding before making contact with our graduate studies administrators.

Socio-Cultural Anthropology

The training in socio-cultural anthropology that we offer encourages graduate students to engage the full breadth of the modern human experience through the lens of ethnography: the long-term qualitative study of social processes in a particular context or setting. While we do not stress particular theoretical perspectives, our training emphasizes a synthesis of foundational approaches and contemporary developments in the field. Our core classes equip students to engage critically with the distinct analytical lenses by which anthropologists understand the world.  Specialized courses engage with particular theoretical, methodological, and topical issues of importance, such as medical anthropology, violence, and transnationalism.  

Protesting United States military bases in South KoreaProtesting United States military bases in South Korea

Anthropological Archaeology

The program in anthropological archaeology combines theoretical and methodological rigor with a focus on the indigenous and colonial past of the Americas.  Current faculty and graduate research is especially focused on colonial New England, the American Southwest, and the ancient Maya.  Ph.D. students are expected to engage in original field and laboratory research and opportunities are available to collaborate on faculty sponsored projects. In order to conduct this research, anthropological archaeology Ph.D. students study the history of the discipline and contemporary archaeological theory, and train in a diversity of areas, including artifact analysis, survey and mapping, remote sensing, bioarchaeology, and epigraphy.  Our students also capitalize on archaeological training at Brown's Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology in the Ancient World and at other universities in the greater New England area. 

Archaeological excavation, Petén, GuatemalaArchaeological excavation, Petén, Guatemala

Linguistic Anthropology

The program in linguistic anthropology involves the study of language in social context, both past and present, with a particular emphasis on viewing the intersection of language and society from a semiotic perspective. Linguistic anthropology at Brown emphasizes the dynamic synthesis of social theory and ethnography with the analysis of linguistic forms, practices, and ideologies.  Our approach inserts the study of linguistic forms into a much more holistic approach to the social life of language.  Through this focus, researchers are able to explore the ways that language not only makes human societies and human social relations possible, but how linguistic practices allow societies to be both reproduced and transformed. Furthermore, this approach allows students in our other programs (socio-cultural anthropology and anthropological archaeology) or even in other disciplines to take the theoretical and methodological insights of linguistic anthropology and apply them to their own research.

Musicians performing during the Day of the Dead fiesta, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2009Musicians performing during the Day of the Dead fiesta, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2009