Program Requirements - Sociocultural

The UC Davis Sociocultural Anthropology program requirements include successful completion of preliminary and qualifying examinations, a specified curriculum, periodic progress reviews, and a dissertation that earns faculty approval.


Students who are accepted into the Department of Anthropology's Sociocultural Wing graduate program begin by fulfilling core and sub-discipline requirements constituting a master's degree curriculum.

Program Structure

Each student admitted to the Graduate Program in the Department of Anthropology is responsible for knowing the curricular requirements. We encourage prospective students to make contact with currently enrolled graduate students, and to communicate with faculty members in relevant areas of specialization.

To obtain the master’s degree, students in Anthropology are required complete 36 units of upper division or graduate coursework. Of these 36 units, 18 must be from graduate courses (numbered in the 200s) and no more than 9 units can be for research (ANT 299). A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be maintained to remain in good standing, and students must enroll in 12 units per quarter. Students must be in residence for a minimum of three quarters and must pass a written preliminary examination. 

Master's Course Requirements

ANT 270 (the department colloquium) each quarter of the first year 3
ANT Seminar (200 level) 4
ANT Seminar (200 level) 4
ANT Graduate Course (200 level) with Narrative Evaluation 4
ANT Graduate Course (200 level) with Narrative Evaluation 4
Elective Course 4
Elective Course  4
Independent Study ANT 299 9


This requirement is satisfied by taking 15 units of a second language at UC Davis OR by demonstrating commensurate competence by examination. A full year of one foreign language taken as an undergraduate satisfies this requirement. If by examination, a faculty member, either in the appropriate language department or within anthropology (with sufficient fluency in the language), confirms the student’s competency


Preliminary Exam - Sociocultural

At the end of spring quarter of their first year, students take a written preliminary exam in the form of a paper in which they must grapple with key concepts and themes within the discipline. Students define the topic in coordination with their Interim Major Professor and the Graduate Advisor. Two randomly selected faculty evaluate the paper on the basis of pass/potential fail. In potential fail cases, the entire faculty reads and evaluates the exam. All papers will be discussed at a Sociocultural Wing faculty meeting. Students may not repeat the exam. Should a student fail the exam, s/he is recommended for disqualification from the graduate program.

Ph.D. Course Requirements


ANT 206 (Research Design and Method in Social Anthropology)

Must be taken by the spring quarter of the second year.

TOTAL UNITS (including M.A. course requirements) 41

Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination (QE) is intended to test a student’s depth and breadth of knowledge that is required to undertake the dissertation research and writing. The QE should be scheduled by the 9th quarter of study.


The student assembles bibliographies in three fields and prepares two qualification essays (20-25 pages each) for the committee. Each essay is based on one of the critical theoretical and area concerns represented in the bibliography. These themes and issues may coincide with the student’s research interests and, together with members of her/his qualifying exam committee the student designs her/his bibliographies and writes her/his essays over the course of the Fall and Winter quarters of their third year of study. Final versions of the essays must be submitted to the student’s exam committee by the end of Winter Quarter.

Research Proposal

The student finalizes her/his research proposal. This final version extends the theoretical and methodological dimensions of the proposal. Extended proposals must be submitted to the student’s exam committee two weeks before the students Oral Exam.

Oral Exam

The student is examined orally for a three-hour time period. During this time, exam committee members evaluate the student’s facility to delve deeper and extend beyond the material presented to date in her/his bibliographies, essays, and research proposal. Exams must be taken by the end of spring quarter of the third year of study.


After passing the Qualifying Examination, a student may apply to be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. At that time, upon the recommendation of the student’s major professor in consultation with the graduate advisor, the dean of Graduate Studies appoints a committee to direct the student’s research and to guide preparation of the dissertation.