Students will demonstrate their readiness to undertake independent dissertation research by submitting a portfolio of their graduate training and scholarship in Cultural Anthropology.

Required Portfolio Content

3 annotated reading lists (2 theoretical in focus, 1 geographic) displaying the contours of each of your fields:

Each field list should include 25 items for those leaving for the field after 5 semesters, and 35 items for those leaving after 6 semesters. Annotations may vary in length (from a short paragraph to a page) - a balance to be determined by the faculty examiner for that particular reading list in consultation with you. The list for each field should be introduced by a synthetic overview that charts the genealogy of the readings and/or that critically reviews its key themes (2-3 double spaced pages per list).

Dissertation prospectus (20-25 double spaced pages):

This document is largely the grant proposal for dissertation fieldwork. The proposal should be supplemented by a short statement (2-3 pages) outlining theoretical or ethnographic issues pertaining to the project not raised in the proposal, any logistical or practical issues to be discussed with the committee concerning fieldwork, and issues regarding security/ethics/safety in the field both for you and your interlocutors. The status of your IRB (Internal Review Board) permission to do fieldwork with human subjects—which must be obtained before embarking for the field—must also be included.

One Syllabus for a course you might teach one day or on a topic pertaining to your dissertation research.  


Portfolio Logistics

One member of your Ph.D. committee will be responsible for the evaluation of each field, and will provide you with guidelines identifying the kind of materials that should be included within the field reading list, and the nature of the short synthetic essay about each field. The chair of your committee may be responsible for one of the fields. You should meet regularly with each examiner to discuss progress on the respective field reading lists. Material for the Portfolio should be shared with committee members in digital form; some faculty may also request a hard copy of parts or all of the contents of the Portfolio as well.

At the end of the semester in which you will prepare and annotate a list, you will be examined independently by the faculty member responsible for that list. You must pass these examinations in order to sit for the Portfolio Workshop.


Portfolio Workshop (Preliminary Exam Certification)

​​​​​​​Before students can proceed to candidacy for the Ph.D., they must receive Preliminary Certification from the department. The student's entire Ph.D. committee will participate in this oral discussion of the Portfolio, which can have a duration of up to 2 ½ hours. The first half of the workshop will focus on the three fields, and students will be expected to demonstrate fluency in the key themes in these fields. The second half of the workshop will focus on the dissertation prospectus and plans for research. 

If the student fails to defend their Portfolio by the end of the sixth semester, they risk not being allowed to continue in the program. If their Ph.D. committee feels that the student has not performed adequately, she/he will be allowed to reschedule the workshop only if the entire committee supports this recommendation (pending approval of the Graduate Dean). All Ph.D. committee members must participate in the workshop, with no more than one member participating via conference call (current COVID-19 pandemic circumstances excepted).

Students are expected to complete all of their course work before going into the field.