Course Requirements & Distribution


The student is required to complete six semesters of course work. The average course load is three courses per semester.  However, if warranted by the student's plan of study, he/she will be allowed to take a fourth course (e.g. a language course). Normal coursework will continue throughout the first three years, including the spring of the third year.

Graded Coursework:

A student must take at least 18 graded courses, of which no more than 5 may be independent studies.

Of these 18 courses, at least 10 must be regular courses listed or cross-listed as a graduate course (at or above the 500 level) within CA, including CA 801, 802, 803 and 804.  Up to 2 graduate-level anthropology courses at UNC-Chapel Hill can also count towards this 10 course requirement. Individual reading and research courses (independent studies) cannot be included within the 10 regular courses. The one-course credit second- and third-year students receive for TAing may be counted as one of the ten courses from primary faculty.

No more than 5 of the remaining 8 (non CA) courses may be Individual Research/Individual Reading courses (independent studies).  The faculty recommends that 3 of these independent studies be reserved for the spring of the third year, when the student is preparing for the Portfolio Workshop.

Of these 18 graded courses, all students must take at least 2 courses in a discipline outside of Cultural Anthropology.

Independent Studies:

We recommend that at least 1 of these independent studies be taken in the spring of the 2nd year to assist with the preparation of field-specific annotated reading lists and in anticipation of grant writing in the fall of the 3rd year. The terms of the independent study must be negotiated with the faculty advisor in question. In the interest of faculty labor, they should not be understood as tutorials, but as opportunities for sponsored independent work towards completion of the portfolio requirements.

Course distribution:

All students must take at least two courses in a discipline outside of Cultural Anthropology. Students may, however, take more than two courses outside of Cultural Anthropology.

  • Theories: The 2-semester Theories course (CA 801-802) focuses on core debates and themes within the history of socio-cultural anthropology and related fields.
  • Research Methods: Students are required to take the Research Methods and Portfolio Seminar (CA 803) in the spring of their second year. This course will be focused on ethnographic methods, using the students summer fieldwork as the basis of the exploration.
  • Grant Writing:  Students are required to take the Grant Writing seminar (CA 804) in the fall of their third year.   This course will focus on the development of the dissertation research proposal and the preparation of grant proposals; it will also allow students to work further on their portfolios.