Anthropology (Complex Adaptive Systems Science), PHD

At a Glance: program details

Are you interested in the complexities of both ancient and modern societies? Gain training in complexity science with an eye toward studying cities, epidemics and human-environment interactions through the lens of dynamic systems. As a graduate, you'll apply that knowledge toward creating a more sustainable future for humankind.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Anthropology (Complex Adaptive Systems Science)

The School of Human Evolution and Social Change is an excellent choice for students wanting to pursue a PhD in the classic fields of anthropology: archaeology, bioarcheology, evolutionary anthropology and sociocultural anthropology. It is also an ideal environment for students who want to combine these approaches and other disciplines to explore specific issues or research questions within a transdisciplinary context.

The flexible graduate curricula are designed to encourage students to design innovative plans of study to pursue their interests while receiving broad training in key areas. The anthropology faculty actively engage with faculty in other disciplines; these include applied mathematics, chemistry, environmental economics, epidemiology, formal modeling, genetics, sociology, sustainability, technology and society, and urban planning.

The complex adaptive systems science doctoral concentration trains the next generation of scientists in advanced concepts and methods needed for approaching diverse phenomena in the social and life sciences. The program is tightly integrated with diverse, ongoing, university-wide research on complex adaptive systems science at Arizona State University and emphasizes the value of a complex adaptive perspective to give better insight and a more active role in seeking solutions to a broad array of critical issues facing society today. The training students receive in this program prepares them to become expert scholars able to contribute not only to their chosen field but to finding solutions to humankind's greatest challenges.

This degree program provides training in data analysis and research design within the context of human evolution, archaeology and the wider field of anthropology. In this program, through anthropological coursework, students learn how to ask important questions about the human species and employ statistics to analyze and extract meaning from data. Students learn to appreciate their place in nature and the long history of human societal change that brought them to where they are today.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation

Students entering with a master's degree in a related field may be granted up to 30 credit hours toward the 84 credit hour total required for the doctorate degree program. This leaves 30 credit hours of coursework, 12 credit hours of research and 12 credit hours of dissertation (54 credit hours total) to be earned post-admission.

Students entering without a master's degree must earn an additional 30 hours of graduate credit, produce a research portfolio which is formally evaluated by a faculty committee, and present that research in a public forum before continuing on in the later stage of the doctoral degree program.

All students must maintain an average GPA of 3.20 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in their courses and complete degree requirements per the program's satisfactory progress policy.

For the concentration in complex adaptive systems science, 12 credit hours are selected from an approved list of applicable courses related to complexity.

Student doctoral dissertations should include the application of complex adaptive systems concepts and methods in their field of study and they typically have a member of the complex adaptive systems science graduate faculty as a member of their doctoral supervisory committee.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. personal statement outlining educational and professional goals
  4. current curriculum vitae or resume
  5. three letters of recommendation
  6. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Undergraduate coursework in anthropology is not a prerequisite for admission but is generally advisable. Students may be admitted without such a background and may be required to acquire knowledge of general anthropology in a manner to be specified at the time of admission.

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Application Deadlines



Session A/C
In Person
December 1st

Career Opportunities

The demand in the job market for people with an anthropology background is stimulated by a growing need for researchers and analysts with keen thinking skills who can manage, evaluate and interpret large amounts of data. As the many spheres of human interaction expand globally, people trained in anthropology are increasingly sought for their broad, holistic knowledge and perspectives, which are the hallmarks of anthropology. Some career opportunities include:

  • acting as legal advocates in international cases
  • analyzing and proposing policies
  • conducting postgraduate academic research
  • consulting for private and public organizations
  • curating cultural resources
  • directing nonprofit organizations
  • directing programs in the private or public sector
  • managing culture or heritage resources in private or public sectors
  • modeling infectious diseases
  • planning communities
  • teaching

Program Contact Information

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