Graduate Study at Duke

Cultural Anthropology today is marked by the dynamism of the times. No longer just the study of remote societies, the field explores how people produce, inhabit and make sense of all corners and aspects of today's globalized world. This department is committed to studying the politics of culture, power, and history and the complex questions of theory, method, and interpretation that this project demands. 

Recent dissertation projects include work on: everyday survival among Fukushima nuclear victims; women marathon runners in Ethiopia; coastal erosion in West Africa; Black male youth and sports in North Carolina; Palestinian astronomy projects; youth and post-humanitarianism in northern Uganda; Pan-African politics in Venezuela; repurposing food waste in Brussels; Christian evangelism in post-Tahir Egypt; sounding the city in Gulu, Uganda; war, traumatic injury and Chinese medical practitioners in South Sudan; Tunisian male youth engagements with ISIS.

Key Features and Benefits of Our Ph.D. Program

  • Focuses on a student's Portfolio rather than written or oral exams
  • Encourages interdisciplinary outlook and engagement with other departments across campus
  • Promotes close contact between faculty and graduate students
  • Emphasizes student-designed Plan of Study that enables you to develop particular interests, acquire general competence through exposure to classic paradigms and current trends within the field, and meet departmental and university requirements
  • Does not require a Master's thesis or an Anthropology undergraduate degree
  • Provides opportunity to apply to receive a Master's degree after successful completion of third year Portfolio Workshop

Outstanding Job Placement Track Record

We encourage, and assist, students to seek job placement of multiple types, in and beyond the academy. We have graduates running museums, directing NGOs, working in university administration, and pursuing careers as public writers; this is true for 17% of our graduates including those not currently in a waged job. For those more interested in an academic position, our track record is excellent: of our graduates in the last five years, 58% are in tenure track university positions and 25% are in visiting or adjunct university positions. The institutions in which  our graduates now teach include Berkeley, Michigan, Harvard, Yale, U of Washington, Washington U, Pittsburgh, College of the Atlantic, Wesleyan, Kentucky, George Washington. 

Vibrant Colloquium Series

The department hosts a regular colloquium series, in which outstanding national and international scholars present their work.