FAQs for Graduate Students

Do I need a master’s degree before beginning a Ph.D. program?
Can I earn a terminal master’s degree?
Where do School of Human Evolution and Social Change alumni work?
What application materials are required by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change?
What will increase my chance of being accepted?
What is the average GRE score for admitted students?
What is the TOEFL score requirement for international students?

How many students apply each year and how many are accepted?
Can I visit prior to applying?
What is the time to completion?
I have a full-time job and want to work while I am doing the degree. Is that okay? 
What if I am new to the field?
Can I take coursework prior to applying?
Do you offer courses online or in the summers?

When should I apply?
When will I be notified of admissions?
What is the tuition rate? 
What kind of funding is available?
Can I talk to someone about the program? 

Do I need a master’s degree before beginning a Ph.D. program?

We admit students with master’s degrees or post-baccalaureate graduates in related fields. However, a majority of the students are admitted with a baccalaureate, and they continue into a Ph.D. program with a master’s in passing where necessary.

Can I earn a terminal master’s degree?

We offer terminal master’s degrees in museum studies and in global health. We do not offer a terminal M.A. in anthropology, applied mathematics for the life and social sciences or environmental social science. However, please note that students admitted to any of our Ph.D. programs with a B.A. are eligible to receive a master’s in passing after 30 hours of coursework and appropriate academic output.

Where do School of Human Evolution and Social Change alumni work? 

About 70 percent of our students intend to pursue academic careers, mostly as professors in transdisciplinary programs, just ours, in which they will be doing research and teaching university students. Other students plan to use the degree to move into leadership positions in NGOs, government agencies and research positions in health fields, though the terminal master’s degree may be more suited to those with these types of career goals.

Our nearly 2,500 graduates work in academia and all sectors of our economy. For a listing of the current employers of some of our alumni, click here, and for some of their real job titles, see this file. Although the possibilities are endless, the American Anthropological Association and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offer useful data on the types of work these degrees will prepare you for.

What application materials are required by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change?

  • Three letters of recommendation are required, and the online application will ask you to provide the names and e-mail addresses of those professors, professionals or others you have selected. These individuals should be familiar with your academic and practical experience, as well as your capacity to be successful in a graduate program. Your recommenders will be sent an e-mail to fill out an online reference form.
  • Your statement of purpose, which is normally no more than 3 pages, but which contains critical information about why you are a good fit for the program
  • Your current curriculum vitae.
  • A sample of your writing may be uploaded but is not required – this should demonstrate your scholarly thinking and argumentative writing abilities. Do not write something new, use something that has already been reviewed and edited by one of your professors.
  • Your official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate coursework should be sent by each university, directly to Arizona State University Graduate Education
  • The school requires official GRE general test scores for all applicants. In certain circumstances we may accept MCAT, PCAT or LSAT scores for the global health programs. E-mail shescgrad@asu.edu with questions or requests for acceptance of alternate test scores in lieu of the GRE
    • International students have additional requirements. These requirements can be found on Graduate Education’s Web page for international applicants. Please note that international students may not apply to graduate certificate programs unless they have already been admitted into an ASU degree program.

What will increase my chance of being accepted? 

Writing a compelling and authentic statement of purpose that clearly expresses how our program is the ideal fit for your intellectual and career goals and talents is the first step. High undergraduate and/or graduate GPA, competitive GREs in all areas, a background in the social sciences, evidence of scholarly success (e.g., publications, awards) and the identification of specific faculty mentors on their application who share your interests also bolster your application. Decide on a specific research question and/or project carefully grounded in the relevant literatures of the discipline to which you are applying and contextualized in its preferred methodology. Strong letters of recommendation that evidence firsthand knowledge of your capabilities round out the package.

While your path to graduate school may or may not be traditional, we are open to those whose record and passion indicates the ability to succeed and to fit well into our particular program strengths and the interests of our faculty members. It is critical that every accepted student has a faculty mentor willing to guide their academic career at ASU, which is why it is to your advantage to make faculty connections prior to applying to determine suitability and to identify them by name on your application.

What is the average GRE score for admitted students?

For our programs, there is no establishedminimum GRE score, as students are evaluated by the entirety of their applications. Theaverage GRE scores for admitted students for the Fall 2015 term were:

  • Verbal – 164
  • Quantitative – 156
  • Analytical – 4.5

What is the TOEFL score requirement for international students?

Please visit the Graduate Admissions page for English Proficiency scores.

How many students apply each year and how many are accepted?

It varies from year to year. Admission to our programs is highly selective and dependent on such factors as qualifications of the applicant and space availability. We typically receive more than 250 applicants for our various programs each year and admit approximately 10-20% of applicants.

Can I visit prior to applying?

We encourage you to correspond directly with faculty members whose research interests match yours, both to determine potential fit with the program as well as to get an idea of the opportunities currently available to graduate students. Due to the level of interest in our programs, we no longer arrange formal visits for prospective students, but once you have been accepted, we host a weekend of activities for all those admitted into our graduate programs. This takes place in March, typically, providing you the opportunity to meet formally and informally with faculty, current students and the incoming cohort. If you wish to plan a visit on your own, there is helpful information on the Visit Us page

What is the time to completion?

As a full-time student entering with a master’s degree, you can expect to complete the Anthropology Ph.D. in five years. If you are entering with a B.A. or B.S. and will attend full time, it should take you no longer than six years to finish. Applied Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences can, generally speaking, be completed within 3-5 years of full-time study.

I have a full-time job and want to work while I am doing the degree. Is that okay? 

Generally speaking, it is very difficult to work full time and complete a graduate degree. All our courses are seminars and require your presence in the classroom for each session. The programs are demanding, and to make the most of the myriad opportunities we offer, you need available time. We recommend degree-seeking students commit to full-time graduate school. Certificate students may elect not to have a full-time course load and so are more likely to work while in school, though the internship component of the certificate is quite time-consuming. Scheduling flexibility is required.

What if I am new to the field? 

Applicants with degrees in other disciplines may have some deficiencies noted on their admission letter from Graduate Education that they can make up by taking courses in one or more approaches. Students entering with a background in the social sciences usually find the transition easier than those entering from the biological or ecological sciences. For those with no social science background, we highly recommend taking some key social sciences courses at the graduate level before you apply (e.g., social theory, social research methodologies, human geography, environmental sociology, political ecology). For more information, contact the graduate academic success specialist.

Can I take coursework prior to applying? 

You may use up to 6 credits of pre-admission coursework to partly fulfill the requirements of a certificate, 9 credits of pre-admission coursework to partly fulfill the requirements of an M.A. and 12 credits of pre-admission coursework to partly fulfill the requirements of a Ph.D. in accordance with Graduate Education policy. Please note that to take those credits, you must apply as a non-degree-seeking student first and also secure the permission of the course instructor prior to registration. We do not guarantee space in any courses for non-degree-seeking students. Also you may not be eligible for financial aid, including federal student loans when you are in non-degree-seeking status.

Do you offer courses online or in the summers? 

Currently we do not offer any graduate-level courses online. There are some opportunities for fieldwork credit during summer sessions, but we only offer graduate-level courses during the fall and spring semesters each year.

When should I apply? 

Applications open September 1 for admission in the following fall and the application deadline is December 1 for all programs except applied mathematics for the life and social sciences, which has a deadline of March 1. There are no spring admissions. It is recommended that you have your application, transcripts, test scores and application fee to the ASU Graduate Education admission office by November 15 (or earlier if you are an international student).

When will I be notified of admissions?

You can track your admission status at MyASU, which is accessed through the main ASU Web page. Typically, students are notified before the end of March.

What is the tuition rate?

Please visit the Academic Catalog for the current Tuition and Fees.

What kind of funding is available? 

We award fellowships, teaching assistantships and tuition support on a competitive basis. Research assistantships are also available, depending on current research projects. Incoming Ph.D. students are automatically considered for financial support through fellowships, teaching assistantships and research assistantships, which generally include tuition waivers and health coverage. For additional funding opportunities, consult ASU Graduate Education financial support services, assistantships and graduate fellowships in the mathematical sciences for applied mathematics for the life and social science students, and the National Science Foundation.

Generally speaking, we are unable to offer funding to master’s and certificate students. We encourage you to complete the FAFSA forms and to apply for any external scholarships or fellowships that you may be eligible for. Certificate-seeking students who are not concurrently enrolled in a degree program may not be eligible for financial aid, including federal student loans.

Can I talk to someone about the program? 

Yes, we have a full-time academic success specialist dedicated to our graduate programs. She can guide you through the process, refer you to others on campus as needed and answer or further research all of your questions. She can be reached at shescgrad@asu.edu.