Doctoral program

Our PhD program distinguishes itself from other Anthropology PhD programs where the focus is on the traditional anthropological subfields of cultural and biological anthropology, and archaeology.

We bring together faculty and doctoral students into research areas that transcend these traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries, and which are also of interest to the wider university community.

PhD Admission & Program Requirements: please see University of Victoria's Academic Calendar

Course requirements

Residency: two years, during which PhD students will take four one-semester courses and participate in ANTH 612 (Graduate Colloquium)

Courses: students are required to complete four 1.5 unit graduate courses, comprised of

  • ANTH 600 - Professional Development in Anthropology
  • One of the ANTH 690 series: Specialized Directed Study in Inequality, Culture, and Health; Evolution and Ecology; Space, Place, Knowledge and Power; or Visual Anthropology and Technology
  • One of the following advanced research seminars:
    • ANTH 611 - Inequality, Culture, and Health;
    • ANTH 651 - Ecology and Evolution;
    • ANTH 671 - Visual Anthropology and Materiality or
    • ANTH 685 - Space, Place, Knowledge and Power
  • Breadth of Knowledge: a course from another academic department or another theme within Anthropology.

ANTH 612: PhD students are expected to attend and participate in ANTH 612: Graduate Colloquium during their two-year residency.

Candidacy requirements

After fulfilling all course requirements, PhD students enroll in ANTH 693 (PhD Candidacy Examinations) in preparation for candidacy and must complete the language requirement, the comprehensive examinations, and the dissertation proposal defense.

  • Language requirement: If English is your first language, PhD students must complete a language requirement by either:
    • Coursework: taking courses in another language (two introductory courses or one upper-level course taken as part of the doctoral program – e.g. not previously) or
    • Translation exam: to demonstrate proficiency through a language translation exam administered by the relevant department (e.g., French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, Pacific and Asian Studies).
  • Comprehensive examination: the student, in consultation with their Ph.D. committee, will craft three important and original questions related to their particular research area, and answer those questions in a written format (three comprehensive papers), drawing upon pertinent literature. These papers will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis by the student’s committee, which may require minor or major revisions before considering the exam to be passed. In the case of Visual Anthropology, or work that substantively within Indigenous knowledge domains, students may be required to alternate works as one of the three comprehensive exam papers. 
  • Dissertation proposal defense: Students must also prepare and defend a dissertation research proposal. They will give a 20-30 minute presentation on their proposal topic and answer questions posed by the supervisory committee. The oral defense will also be evaluated on a pass/fail basis.

Once these requirements have been fulfilled (normally by the end of the second year of full-time study), the student will have completed ANTH693 and will enroll in ANTH 699 Dissertation and begin their dissertation research.


The supervisory committee must have at least three members, one of whom is the primary supervisor, one may be a co-supervisor. At least two of the members, including the supervisor, must be from Anthropology; one of the members must be from outside the home academic unit, as per UVic Graduate Calendar regulations.