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Department Information

Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human. The discipline is at the crossroads of science and humanities.

Our faculty is advancing intellectual frontiers, both ancient and modern, through groundbreaking interdisciplinary research, innovative teaching, and community outreach. Our research aims to bring insight and understanding to issues of global health and development, migration and borderland communities, and human impacts on and responses to climate change. Anthropology has long been one of the strongest programs at SMU. We help students build their cultural competency, critical thinking, and global skill sets to best prepare them for life after graduation.

Highlights of the program are:

  1. Nationally-known faculty, among whom have been three National Academy of Science members.

  2. Close faculty/student research collaborations.

  3. Fully financially-funded doctoral students (tuition, fees, and stipend).

  4. Funding available for student travel to conferences and for preliminary dissertation research.

  5. Graduate programs have a strong interdisciplinary focus.

  6. Focus on theory and method - practical experience in field and laboratory.

  7. SMU-in-Taos Archaeology Field School. (New Mexico)

  8. An award-winning, beautiful campus in the vibrant and international urban center of Dallas.

In addition to providing the basis for careers in the sub-disciplines, anthropology offers a background for professional careers in teaching, research, international affairs, medicine, business, or law.

Degrees Offered

Explore our M.A. Degree in Medical Anthropology

Explore our Anthropology Ph.D. Programs

Anthropology Program Features at SMU

The Anthropology programs have the goal of maximizing your knowledge in a chosen specialization and preparing you for research and a future career in academia and/or private industry.

SMU-in-Taos Archaeology Field School (New Mexico)

SMU-in-Taos Archaeology Field School (New Mexico)


Your destination is SMU-in-Taos, SMU's beautiful 423-acre campus in Northern New Mexico.

Our distinctive mountain campus offers courses during the summer and winter breaks. SMU-in-Taos is a unique academic environment that encourages experiential learning and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Credit-bearing courses are offered in the arts, sciences, business and other disciplines in an inspirational setting designed for adventurous learners. These unique, hands-on courses are taught by SMU faculty and count exactly the same as courses taken in Dallas. The beautiful SMU-in-Taos campus provides SMU students with an amazing living and learning experience.

Applicable courses include:

  • ANTH 3373
  • ANTH 5381
  • ANTH 3324
  • ANTH 3334

Institute for the Study of Earth and Man (ISEM)

Institute for the Study of Earth and Man (ISEM)


Located in N.L. Heroy Science Hall, ISEM develops and supports interdisciplinary research projects in the geological sciences, archaeology, anthropology, energy and the environment. At the graduate student level, ISEM strives to support research leading to advanced degrees and publications in any field of Anthropology/Archaeology or Earth Sciences, consistent with the priorities and mission of ISEM.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s in Anthropology OR 12+ hours of junior and senior level anthropology courses

  • 3.0+ GPA

  • 3 strong letters of recommendation from three professors

  • Combined GRE score of 1200 (old scoring), 310 (new scoring)

  • “Statement of Purpose” outlining reasons for wanting to join Anthropology Department
  • Bachelor’s in Anthropology OR 12+ hours of junior and senior level anthropology courses

  • 3.0+ GPA

  • 3 strong letters of recommendation from three professors

  • Combined GRE score of 1200 (old scoring), 310 (new scoring)

  • “Statement of Purpose” outlining reasons for wanting to join Anthropology Department

Deadlines for Admission

For all graduate Anthropology programs:

  • Priority deadline for Fall admission is January 15th.
  • M.A. final deadline for Fall admission is May 1st.

Departmental Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships (TAs) typically pay a stipend plus remission of tuition/fees and health insurance. Assignments are made by the Department Chair after consultation with faculty members.

Department Assistantships (DAs) typically pay a stipend plus remission of tuition/fees and health insurance. Assignments will be made by the Department Chair.

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) are provided to graduate students who work on sponsored research projects led by individual faculty members. The compensation paid to GRAs may vary, according to the guidelines of the funding agency, and may cover summers as well as the fall/spring semesters. Under most circumstances, GRAs will receive remission of tuition/fees and will be provided with health insurance. Assignments are made by the Principal Investigator of the research project and confirmed by the Department Chair.

Note: Financial support for graduate students is limited. Except under extraordinary circumstances, Teaching Assistantships and Department Assistantships are not available to students in the M.A. program.



A Guide to Choosing, Applying for, and Thriving in a Ph.D. Program



Degree Requirements

  • A minimum of 36 semester hours of coursework (4 required and 8 elective courses)

  • Preparation, presentation, and defense of an internship report

  • A two-hour oral examination

  • Fieldwork

  • 54 total credit hours

  • 8 required courses

  • Select a faculty advisor and faculty committee

  • M.A. General Examination (and additional required coursework)

  • Language Examination (during the sixth semester)

  • Ph.D. Qualifying Exam and Proposal Defense

  • Fieldwork must be completed before or during a student’s time at SMU

  • 54 total credit hours

  • 9 elective courses

  • M.A. General Examination

  • Language Examination

  • Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and Proposal Defense

  • Submission of IRB (Human Subjects Research) Application

Alumni Spotlight


Kerri Brown

Ph.D., Anthropology
Class of 2018

What is your research area?

Medical anthropology. I study how communities in Brazil engage with national and international policies regarding their uses of traditional medicine.

What is the best thing you’ve done as a graduate student at SMU?

I worked at the Hamon Arts Library for two years as a graduate reference assistant. It was great to meet people from outside of my discipline and to learn about subjects that I have little knowledge about. The librarians and staff are also incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and creative, which made working there a constant joy.

What is your favorite thing to do in Dallas?

I enjoy going to the Dallas Arts District for block parties and festivals. Also, there’s almost nothing I love more than eating good food, and DFW has some excellent restaurants. Some of my favorites in the Metroplex are Dingdi (Burmese) in Lewisville, Taste of Europe (Eastern European) in Arlington, and Havana Cafe (Cuban) in Dallas.

What do you wish you had known before starting graduate school?

The graduate school experience is as much about forming relationships as it is about research, coursework, and degree requirements. It’s important to build collegiality with your fellow graduate students. They are not only a crucial part of your professional network, but they also become your friends and your support network. Also, establishing good relationships with administrators and staff on campus will make your life much easier.


Do not hesitate to contact your program of interest with any questions you might have!



Want to learn more about SMU’s graduate programs in Anthropology?

Contact us today, we will be in touch!