Plan of Study and Annual Review

Done yearly, the Plan of Study is akin to a progress report: a statement of the student's long-range research and academic goals, including what has been accomplished so far and what still needs to be fulfilled. This gives both student and faculty the opportunity to assess progress. The faculty discuss Plans of Study together, and give feedback to each student through their advisor. 

Requirements and Deadline

The Plan of Study should be designed in consultation with the student's advisor and submitted at the end of February (of each year save during the final semester of dissertation-writing). The full text should be no longer than two pages, single-spaced, and submitted to the DGS/DGSA for consideration by the faculty as a whole no later than two weeks prior to the faculty meeting at which Plans of Study are to be discussed. 

Deadline: Due Late February

Plan of Study Contents

During the first 3 Years, the Plan of Study should contain:

  • One or two concise paragraphs describing your ethnographic and theoretical fields of interest, including a list of the three fields you anticipate will form the basis of the Portfolio
  • Summary of the contents of your Portfolio to date and a timetable for the completion of Portfolio requirements
  • List of courses you have taken in the graduate program thus far and a list of TA assignments to date
  • List of the remaining courses you plan or hope to take to complete your 5 (or 6) semesters of coursework
  • Description of any non-course experiences, such as fieldwork or field language study, that can reasonably be completed during your graduate career and that will contribute to your program
  • List of committee members: A Ph.D. committee consists of four members, three of which are primary faculty in Cultural Anthropology and one of which is from another discipline (either at Duke or elsewhere) or from an anthropology department at another institution; although discouraged, a committee may consist of more than four members but the student should discuss such a possibility with their advisor

Once you are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy, your Plan of Study should focus on accomplishments in the past year including teaching and publishing activities and plans, grants applied for and/or received, an update on fieldwork and dissertation progress, any revisions to the planned structure of the dissertation, and an updated timetable for completion of fieldwork and the dissertation. With the exception of students whose defense date is set, all students are required to submit a Plan of Study.


In the Spring of each year the overall progress of each student will be evaluated by the graduate faculty in Cultural Anthropology, meeting as a whole and using the Plan of Study written by each student as a basis for discussion. At that time you may be:

  1. Continued in the program unconditionally
  2. Continued in the program on a conditional basis, if faculty decide that you need to develop certain background fields or particular academic skills
  3. Dropped from the program, if the faculty judge your overall performance unacceptable

Directly following the evaluation meeting, you will be notified by your advisor of the decision of the faculty. Any specific recommendations and any conditions to be fulfilled will also be communicated by your advisor or committee chair (with a written copy of recommendations to be submitted to the DGS for your student file).