Are you interested in pursuing graduate school in Scotland?

Dr. Sabine Hyland, our colleague and friend at St. Norbert College in De Pere recently accepted an offer from St. Andrews.  Now you can join her!


“We are offering various scholarship opportunities in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews.

This includes:

1] One three-year full studentship (equivalent to the ESRC fees and maintenance grant for UK/EU students; overseas fees may also be covered).

2] Two three-year home fees waiver scholarships (the awards are equivalent to the domestic/EU fee payment).

3] Eligibility for ESRC doctoral studentships in social anthropology- Social Anthropology is one of the research training pathways that forms part of the ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre. ESRC 1+3 and +3 studentships in Social Anthropology are available at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews

The department scholarships will be awarded in late March 2013 to PhD applicants with outstanding research potential, to enable them to begin their research in Social Anthropology at St Andrews from September 2013 [those eligible for ESRC studentships will need to register, with department approval, by mid February]. We especially invite applicants whose area of interest relates to the department and its research centres.”

To be eligible prospective students must have been offered a place on the PhD programme. Applications forms can be found at:

Further questions can be posted to the postgraduate convener, Dr Adam Reed,

Deadline for Department scholarships: 30th March 2013.

Finding and Getting into Graduate School in Anthropology

            From time to time, the blog editors will be offering tips for preparing for grad school, tips for finding and getting into the appropriate program for you as an individual, and tips for succeeding in a graduate program.  For this post, we have elected to explore the topic of finding and getting into grad school.

            Let’s begin by assuming you have completed all of the program requirements for each of your school choices in a more than satisfactory manner.  Let’s also assume you have been following the tried and true advice of gaining experience working with people and showing yourself to be an outstanding member of your community.  Those things are standard for application to any graduate program in any discipline.  You will be competing with the best and brightest students from around the world for that coveted slot at your program of choice.  How will you make yourself standout?  To answer this, remember the focus of anthropology: people!

            To really stand out it is always good to make yourself a real person.  You do not want to compete as an abstract concept described on paper.  You want the faculty at your chosen program to get to know you and what you will offer the program, both as a student and, later, as a working professional alumnus.  The short answer for solving this dilemma of making yourself “real” is personal contact.  It really can be that simple!

            After you have chosen a program, regardless of your personal reasons, you need to spend some time getting to know the faculty of the program.  This is easily accomplished by spending time reading the program web page.  Somewhere on those pages you will generally find contact information for every faculty member and, in many cases, you will find a short biographic description of each of them.  Find out who is doing research in the area you would like to study.  Find out who is the person you would most like to meet.  Checking out the faculty is an important part of finding the best program for you so you should have already finished much of this preliminary work.  It is the people who make a program and, ultimately, it is the people who will shape your feelings about your graduate school experience.  Get to know them as much as you can when you are making your initial decisions.

            Once you have selected the person whom you would most like to be your mentor, start reading their professional publications.  Not only will this help you get excited about the potential of working with them, but it will also help you determine if they really do seem like the person you want as a mentor.  Once you have completed this background research, you are ready to initiate contact.

            Email is a great way to begin.  Send personal notes to each of your selected faculty members explaining your interest in the program in general and your interest in them being your mentor, in specific.  Include some biographical information about yourself as a way of generating their interest in the opportunity to meet you.  There is an important caveat for this introduction email.  Use proper grammar!  Format and write this email as if it is a letter.  Do not use abbreviations or internet code and above all, be respectful.  Begin your email with “Dear Dr. Smith” not “Hey” or “Howdy, John.”  Remember, you are trying to create a favorable impression, not just an impression.

            When you receive a positive response, if it is at all possible, you should arrange a personal visit to the campus.  Ideally, you would like the visit to be on a day and time when your chosen mentor will be available to meet with you.  Be mindful of their schedule.  But, during your visit you also want to meet as many other faculty and staff as you can.  You also want to talk to current students.  They will be able to give you inside information about people and the program that you might not learn otherwise.  If you can’t arrange to physically go to the campus, do not neglect the email and possibly a telephone contact.  Your goal in all of this personal contact is to create an ally for yourself on the admissions committee.  You want someone at the school to be willing to fight for your inclusion into the next incoming class.  If you have made the appropriate impression you will have the ally that you need.  This could even spill over into the area of funding.

            Does all of this really work?  Absolutely!  When applying to graduate programs, the author of this column sent four applications and visited three campuses.  I was accepted into three programs.  At that point, my main concern became funding.  I called my potential mentors at each school and explained my dilemma.  One immediately made an offer of funding and one made a promise of funding but needed to get back to me about the level.  The third politely explained that no incoming graduate students got funding at their program.  So, my choice was narrowed for me.  Of the two making offers, both actually worked to recruit me instead of me feeling that I was begging to get into their program!  Granted, I had other factors working in my favor in the applications but we should not undervalue the personal contact’s role in my application success.  Be someone whom others want to be around and take the opportunity to demonstrate your interest in being mentored by the right person.  These, after all, are the skills of an anthropologist.  Good luck!

Interested in Graduate School?

What makes an outstanding graduate program?  Where should you go to work for an advanced degree?  These are basic questions that can ultimately only be answered by the individual.  For some, research and funding opportunities will be of paramount importance.  Others will be looking to mentor under a particular researcher because of a special interest of theirs.  Other students might be looking for areas of general specialty among the faculty of a program.  Students might even consider it very important to consider location for climate and proximity to other amenities, such as family.  To help our students sort the myriad of opportunities that exist in Anthropology graduate programs, we will occasionally provide profiles of a program.  For the inaugural blog, we thought it would be best to begin with a bonus and profile the two largest programs in the University of Wisconsin system: Madison and Milwaukee.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

            Covering three of the four major subfields of Anthropology, the program at Madison offers research areas in archaeological, biological, and cultural anthropology.  With 22 faculty members in the program and another 9 anthropologists in other programs, a student will likely find a mentor who suits their particular interests. Admission to the program is with the expectation that a student is pursuing a doctorate as students are not admitted for a planned terminal master’s degree.  Students in any of the three subfields will also obtain training in additional degree areas that provide appropriate skill sets for the chosen subfield.  This will help the student to become a better rounded researcher in their discipline.  Coursework culminates with an oral exam administered by a committee of five faculty members, one of whom must be from outside of Anthropology.

            Among the prominent features of the program at Madison is a world-class faculty, easy access to the Wisconsin state archaeology geographic information system, a working relationship with the Center for Climatic Research, well-equipped laboratories in several specialties, and biological and archaeological comparative collections.  In short, facilities at Madison offer all of the necessities for a modern research anthropologist. 

As with any graduate program, funding for students is highly competitive but opportunities for scholarships and other funding beyond federal student aid programs do exist.  Students are encouraged to consult with department personnel for funding guidance.  The deadline for application to the graduate program is Dec. 1st.  For additional information, you can follow the appropriate links at: 

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

            With 20 graduate studies faculty members, the program at Milwaukee offers graduate areas of concentration in all four of the major subfields of Anthropology.  In addition to a master’s and doctoral degree, Milwaukee Anthropology also has a Certificate in Museum Studies that can be completed in conjugation with the M.S. degree in Anthropology.

            The master’s program is designed to allow students who do not have an undergraduate major in Anthropology to catch up required background courses before completing the degree.  It is also designed around a four-field concept with some area specialization.  This could be a great start for advanced training in Anthropology for the UWGB student in that students will be studying the areas not covered by a minor from our program.  Likewise, the doctoral program at Milwaukee will admit students who have a master’s degree in a discipline other than Anthropology.

            UW-Milwaukee offers field schools in both archaeology and ethnographic research and has laboratory facilities in all major areas of anthropology.  In addition, the Program in Midwestern Archaeology (PIMA) offers ample opportunity for student archaeologists to gain practical experience in cultural resource management (CRM) and public archaeology.  The anthropology program also hosts a regular series of public lectures on anthropological topics.

            For specific funding opportunities and any additional information about a graduate program at UW-Milwaukee, feel free to contact the faculty member in your area of interest.  You can learn more at