FAQs for Graduate Students

General Information

  • What is the School of Human Evolution and Social Change?
  • What degree programs are offered by the school?
  • 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?

Application Materials

  • How do I apply?
  • What application materials are required by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change?
  • Should I send copies of my application materials directly to the department?
  • I don’t have three professors who can write letters of recommendation. Is that ok?
  • What is a statement of intent?
  • What is a curriculum vitae?
  • What type of writing sample is appropriate to submit?
  • What is the average GRE score for admitted students?

Admission and Coursework

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

Deadlines and Timetables

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

general information

Q: What is the School of Human Evolution and Social Change?
A: We were founded in 1962 as the Department of Anthropology, two years after hiring our second anthropologist. Since then, we have built a team of some of the most prominent social scientists in the country, with global reach through our innovative research projects. Recognizing the urgent need for a more sound understanding of the world’s complexities in a broader context and recognizing the unit’s core strengths with a top Ph.D. program, Arizona State University selected us as the first truly transdisciplinary social science unit in 2005. We have surpassed all expectations for research growth, developing new degree programs and continuing to attract some of the best students and faculty in our now broader range of expertise areas. Our teaching, research and creative outreach is designed to engage students in the world’s most pressing issues, providing new perspectives aimed at enhancing the well-being of the diverse people and communities of Arizona and beyond.

Q: What degree programs are offered by the school?
A: The school offers a variety of degree and certificate programs:

Please see the Web page for the specific program you are interested in for more information, including curricular requirements and additional FAQs.

Q: Do I need a master’s degree before beginning a Ph.D. program?
A: 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 degree in passing where necessary.

Q: Can I earn a terminal master’s degree?
A: 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.

Q: Where do School of Human Evolution and Social Change alumni work?
A: Our nearly 2,500 graduates work in academia and all sectors of our economy. If you wish to meet with an alumnus in a particular field or company, please contact us, and we will make every effort to make that connection for you. 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.

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Application Materials

Q: How do I apply?
A: You will apply though the Arizona State University Graduate Education. Admissions requirements and the online application can be found at https://students.asu.edu/graduate.

Within 48 hours of applying online, you will receive an ASU username that we call an “ASURITE ID" and an activation code through an acknowledgement sent by the ASU Graduate Education admissions team. If you have submitted an application and have not received this code or have technical questions about your application, visit https://students.asu.edu/graduate/faqs or call 480-965-6113.

You will then be able to sign on and interactively track the status of your application materials, including missing and pending documents, and can obtain up-to-date information on the routing of the application by logging into MyASU from the main ASU Web page.

Q: 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.
  • 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.

To begin your application, go to the Graduate Education admissions page.

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.

Q: Should I send copies of my application materials directly to the department?
A: We are unable to accept or consider application materials sent directly to the school. GRE scores should be sent to ASU (institution code 4007). Transcripts should be sent directly to Graduate Education. Everything else should be uploaded directly into the application, including reference letters, which your recommenders will be instructed to upload on their own.

Q: I don’t have three professors who can write letters of recommendation. Is that ok?
A: While ideally letters of recommendation are from faculty members familiar with your academic work, we recognize this is not always possible, particularly for students who have graduated and spent time in the work force prior to applying. In these cases, use your best judgment to select suitable references who are capable of focusing their comments on your academic potential and suitability for graduate school. Please be sure to have them describe how long they have known you and in what capacity.

Q: What is a statement of purpose?
A: This important piece of your graduate application is a personal statement about who you are, what has influenced your academic and career path so far and your professional interests and goals. In addition, it should indicate why you are a good fit for the program to which you are applying and reference particular faculty whose research interests you and with whom you would be interested in working if you were to be admitted.

Q: What is a curriculum vitae?
A: A curriculum vitae is essentially an academic résumé, but unlike a résumé, a curriculum vitae may be two pages or more. The common sections in a curriculum vitae are contact information, education, work experience, teaching experience, research skills, professional affiliations, publications, presentations, honors, awards and references.

Q: What type of writing sample is appropriate to submit?
A: A writing sample of between 10 and 20 double-spaced pages in a standard font (Times New Roman or Arial) and size (10 or 12 point) is typical. References should be included but do not count toward the page total. If you feel your best writing is a longer work, such as an honor’s or master’s thesis, then please submit a 10-20 page excerpt of that work. Note that writing samples, if included, are uploaded into the application and that there are file size and extension limitations. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept multimedia samples or hard copies.

Although we prefer writing samples that are topically related to the degree you are pursuing and/or your research interests, we recognize this is not always possible. It is almost always better to submit a sample of your written work that you wrote for a class (and that has been reviewed by one of your professors and/or classmates as part of peer review), even if it is not topically related, than it is to write something from scratch that has not been through the revision process.

Q: What is the average GRE score for admitted students?
A: For our programs, there is no established minimum GRE score, as students are evaluated by the entirety of their application. Generally speaking, GRE scores for admitted students are in the 70th percentile or above. GREs are not required for admission into our certificate programs, though they are strongly recommended.

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Admission and Coursework

Q: How many students apply each year and how many are accepted?
A: 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 20% of applicants.

Q: Can I visit prior to applying?
A: 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.

Q: What will increase my chance of being accepted?
A: 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. 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.

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

Q: What if I am new to the field?
A: 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. For more information, contact the graduate academic success specialist.

Q: Can I take coursework prior to applying?
A: 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.

Q: Do you offer courses online or in the summers?
A: 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.

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Deadlines and Timetables

Q: When should I apply?
A: The application deadline is December 1 for admission in the following fall 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).

Q: When will I be notified of admissions?
A: 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.

Q: What kind of funding is available?
A: 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 at http://graduate.asu.edu/financing. 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.

Q: Can I talk to someone about the program?
A: 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.

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