Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology

The Ph.D. program in Anthropology emphasizes Engaged Anthropology. It seeks to provide graduate students with skills that will enable them to research, understand and engage critically with social issues facing people in specific localities or in translocal communities of practice. Students will learn a range of theoretical approaches exploring the political economy, cultural logics, and discursively constituted power relations shaping engaged actions. Ph.D. students are normally expected to carry out extensive fieldwork away from their academic milieu, immersing themselves at length in the situations and practices they will eventually document in their dissertations. In pursuing their fieldwork, students are encouraged to engage non-academic publics by extending their ethnographic research into apprenticeship, advocacy, and policy-related activities. This training in engaged anthropological theory and practice will provide students with skills and capacities that will make them well qualified for meaningful careers both inside and outside of academia.

At the Ph.D. level, we also offer a collaborative specialization in Political Economy. Please see the Graduate Calendar for details of the program requirements for the Ph.D. in Anthropology with Specialization in Political Economy.


The normal requirement for admission to the Ph.D. program is a master’s degree (or the equivalent) in anthropology, normally with a minimum average of A-, and with no grade below B. Applicants whose academic preparation has deficiencies in certain areas may be admitted to the Ph.D. program, but will normally be required to complete additional course work.

The deadline for applications to the program is:

  • February 1 for applicants requesting financial assistance for September admission or for applicants applying from outside of Canada; domestic applications will continue to be considered beyond this date (space permitting) and funding may be available.

Please consult the Graduate Calendar for Information about Admission.

Application Requirements

Applications for the M.A. and Ph.D. require the same components. These are as follows:

  • A statement of academic/research interests and ambitions (1-2 pages in length);
  • English-language test scores (if applicable);
  • Sample of written work;
  • Two referee appraisal forms and letters of reference (to be uploaded by referees); and
  • One transcript (unofficial can be uploaded by student – official transcripts can be mailed to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and only required if offer is made).

Applicants’ statements of interest should provide a clear and focused description of their research interests and why they wish to enroll in the program. A strong research statement elaborates, as clearly as possible, a particular thesis research project the student wishes to carry out, ideally by proposing particular research questions and citing relevant academic literature.  The sample of written work should have been completed in the most recent degree program and can be a term paper, thesis proposal, or published work.

Degree Requirements

Doctoral students are required to take 10.0 credits in total including a doctoral seminar (1.0 credit), a research design course (0.5 credit), additional elective courses (1.5 credits), and a thesis equivalent to 7.0 credits. Some students (with background deficiencies or other particular needs) may be required to do extra course credits to complete their program, to a maximum of 12.0 credits.

Remaining courses will be chosen from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology courses at the 5000 or 6000 level and may also include, with the permission of the graduate supervisor, up to 1.0 credit of graduate level courses from another Department at Carleton.

Ph.D. students will also be required to complete the following:

  • A research portfolio
  • A thesis research proposal and (where applicable) Research Ethics Board clearance to undertake thesis research
  • Two terms’ participation in a Thesis Writing Seminar

One unique component of our Ph.D. program is the required Research Preparation Portfolio. The Portfolio is a substitute for components common in many other doctoral programs, including comprehensive exams, language requirements, and statistics requirements. Our goal is to have students compile a portfolio of research preparation work that is tailored to their individual needs, given their background and research objectives, rather than imposing a uniform set of requirements on all doctoral students (e.g., comprehensive papers/exams, etc.). In preparing the portfolio, the student and supervisor (or Ph.D. committee) work together to establish a plan for the student’s research preparation that may include producing research papers, annotated bibliographies, or other materials (i.e., deliverables), some through course assignments, and others independent of courses. This ongoing process will not only help to prepare students for their thesis fieldwork, but also to achieve other needed competencies (e.g., field language skills; knowledge of theory, methods and topical area). By having students work with their supervisory committees in this individualized manner, our program aims to move students through the research preparation phase to the thesis field research phase efficiently (ideally by the end of the first year of study), while ensuring that they have the necessary background and competencies to complete their program successfully, and be well-versed scholars in their field.

For more details on PhD program requirements, see the Graduate Calendar.

Financial Assistance

Upon acceptance in to the program, we offer full-time, domestic students (Canadian citizens and permanent residents) substantial financial assistance in the form of teaching and/or research assistantships and scholarships based on academic excellence. Applications received prior to February 1 will automatically be considered for financial assistance. For applications submitted beyond these dates, financial assistance may be available. For additional information on scholarships visit the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs website.

Qualifying domestic MA students typically receive both scholarship money and a paid teaching assistant position for four terms (two years). PhD students normally receive both scholarship money and a paid teaching assistant position for four years. As a unique benefit of our anthropology PhD program, teaching assistant-level funding is maintained during up to three terms of fieldwork, helping to ensure adequate income even when students are conducting research away from the university.  MA students who find that they need to conduct research outside of the Ottawa area that extends beyond their first summer in the program are also eligible to substitute partial scholarship funding for their teaching assistant funding for one term.

Applicants are also encouraged to apply for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), and funding from either the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for research projects on health-related topics.  For more information, see the external awards page of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website.

Funding for international students is very limited, and students are considered on a case-by-case basis. Normally, international students must arrive with some substantial funding from their home country or their own resources before some matching funding will be provided by Carleton. International applicants are encouraged to contact the Graduate Administrator in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology before applying to ensure that attending Carleton is financially realistic for them.