Ph.D. Cultural Heritage and Applied Anthropology

Our doctoral program specializes in Cultural Heritage and Applied Anthropology. Students in this program focus not only on cutting-edge research, but also the application of anthropology to one or more central issues of the 21st century. These include the preservation of heritage and traditions, whether objects, landscapes, or language; international social issues, particularly global development and health delivery; or understanding the biological basis of humankind. This program requires more extensive coursework than the M.A. and, even more importantly, the achievement of independent professional-level scholarship demonstrated by completion of a major research project presented to the faculty as a dissertation. This comprehensive yet individualized program provides seasoned professionals and recent B.A. and M.A. graduates alike an opportunity to earn a Doctorate.

Cultural heritage studies analyzes 'heritage' as an archaeological, ethnohistorical, social, biological, linguistic, and legal construct. Heritage reflects a socially and personally important set of cultural, linguistic, and biological attributes that has developed through historical processes, which have social and legal meanings and consequences. The concept recognizes diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds while grounded in principles of the unity of heritage for all people. Different notions of heritage are explored from a theoretical perspective using various anthropological and other relevant paradigms. The course of study covers topics such as cultural resource management, social impact assessment, the interaction between cultures, invention of tradition through time, cultural landscapes, cultural property, biological heritage issues, and retention of culture and language. An overlapping concern of the Ph.D. program is applied anthropology, the use of the anthropological perspective to solve real-world problems, including cultural heritgage, medical anthropology, and a host of international development issues.

At the heart of our program is a strong commitment to employ anthropological theory to engage contemporary relevant issues with focused research for communities. While some that are awarded a Ph.D. in Anthropology from University of Montana will look toward teaching careers, a goal of the program is to produce applied anthropologists who will serve in government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), tribal and ethnic associations, and businesses.


Admission to the anthropology Ph.D. program is competitive and open to students with

  • a bachelors or master's degree
  • a GPA of 3.2
  • optional GRE scores and/or TOEFL scores
  • positive letters of recommendation
  • and a statement of purpose that indicates professional goals compatible with the research specialties of the faculty.
There is no minimum GRE score, and GRE scores are only one measure used to assess an applicant's suitability for the program. Provisional admission may be offered for promising students who do not meet the GPA standards. If the student's bachelors degree is not in Anthropology, the student will work with their advisor to develop a course of instruction that includes developing a background in the four fields of Anthropology.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program should include a significant writing sample as part of their application. For students with a masters degree this should be their Masters level original work such as a thesis or professional paper. For students without a masters degree this should consists of a selection of term papers or research reports that they have completed.

Students in an M.A. or B.A./B.S. program (at University of Montana or another institution) may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program up to one year before completing the M.A. degree, but their admission to the program will be provisional, contingent upon finishing their M.A. or B.A./B.S. program.

Graduate student applicants may apply online through the Graduate School.

Degree Requirements

The Cultural Heritage Studies and Historical Anthropology Ph.D. program requires coursework, a reviewed portfolio, a comprehensive examination, and a defended dissertation. The faculty expects completion of the Ph.D. within three years of earning the masters degree.


The faculty will assign the student a Ph.D. committee chair upon acceptance into the Ph.D. program; and the student, in consultation with the chair, will select at least two more members for the committee within their first semester in the program. The Ph.D. committee chair will guide the student in choosing appropriate courses and research experiences to accomplish their desired educational outcomes, including serving as the dissertation committee chair. If a student's interests change to the extent that another faculty member would be more appropriate as the dissertation committee chair the student may present a written petition to the graduate advising coordinator, who will consult with the student's existing committee chair, the prospective new committee chair, the Department Chair, and any other relevant faculty in making a decision to grant the student's request.

Graduate Contract and Portfolio

The student and their Ph.D. committee will formulate a plan of study, in the form of a graduate contract, tailored to the student's specific goals and consistent with Graduate School policy (section D.2000), within the student's first semester of entering the program. The contract will state the student's desired educational outcomes, the way in which the outcomes will be achieved, and the manner in which the outcomes will be assessed. The contract may only be altered with the approval of the student's Ph.D. committee. The student will create and maintain a portfolio of work documenting progress toward fulfillment of the graduate contract.


Students are expected to complete the following course requirements:

  • A total of 30 credits beyond those required for the MA degree (total of at least 60 credits post bachelors degree).
  • The core course sequence consisting of ANTY 600, 601, and 602.
  • At least nine credits in research (ANTY 697) and/or dissertation (ANTY 699). Students may apply up to 10 credits of ANTY 593/597/599 or the equivalent and 10 credits of ANTY 697/699 or the equivalent toward the 60 post-baccalaureate credits required for the degree. After students have earned a M.A. degree they may not enroll in ANTY 593/597/599.

Dissertation Research Proposal

Before accumulating 45 postbaccalaureate credits and before enrolling in ANTY699 the student will develop a detailed dissertation research proposal. A funding proposal to an appropriate source may be substituted for the research proposal. At a minimum the proposal should include:

  • The goal of the scholarly work, including hypotheses to be tested;
  • The materials and methods to be used;
  • A significant annotated bibiography or literature review;
  • A completed, but not submitted, University of Montana Institutional Review Boardfor Human Subjects in Research checklist form if the scholarly work involves living human subjects;
  • A completed, but not submitted, Graduate School Application for Graduation.

Dissertation Committee

After completion of the dissertation proposal the candidate will form a dissertation committee consisting of five members who meet the requirements listed in Graduate School Policy (sectionsD4.100 and D4.300), including one University of Montana -- Missoula faculty member who is outside Anthropology.

Comprehensive Examination

Each student will orally present their research proposal at a meeting with their dissertation committee. During this meeting the committee will ask questions designed to assess whether the proposal and the student's background demonstrate the likelihood of successful completion of the dissertation research. The committee will also review the student's portfolio to assess the student's progress toward their desired outcomes. If the student has demonstrated substantial progress toward fulfillment of their graduate contract and is, in the opinion of the committee, prepared to undertake dissertation research, then they will be invited to continue work toward the completion oftheir dissertation. If deficiencies exist the committee may prescribe remedial action or direct the student toward graduation with a terminal M.A. degree. However, students may not earn a second M.A. degree in Anthropology from University of Montana by this mechanism.

Dissertation Defense

After the dissertation is completed, the student's dissertation committee will review it and ask the student to defend it following the process described in Graduate School policy (section D5.000).