Specialization Requirements

The UO Department of Anthropology offers the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree with a concentration in one of three subfields: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, or Cultural Anthropology.

Identify a Subdiscipline: Each prospective graduate student should select an anthropological subdiscipline (Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology). Although a core subdiscipline needs to be identified for your application, we recognize that anthropological work today is highly interdisciplinary and an interest in more than one subdiscipline is encouraged and supported. If your research interest is truly interdisciplinary (e.g., Biocultural Anthropology), please use your personal statement to discuss this.


Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology that examines the human past through material remains. From artifacts found with fossilized remains of our earliest human ancestors in Africa dating to millions of years ago, to historical buildings in urban or rural Oregon, archaeology analyzes the physical remains of the past in pursuit of a broad and comprehensive understanding of human cultures. At the University of Oregon, archaeology is practiced by a diverse group of faculty and students working in North America, the Pacific Rim, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. We study a broad array of topics, including settlement of the Americas, colonization and population dispersals, the archaeology and historical ecology of islands and coastal regions, fishing societies, transitions to agriculture, and emergence of social inequality. We examine the effects of economic, environmental, cultural, and evolutionary factors on subsistence, social structure, ethnicity, identity, and gender in archaeological contexts, and how humans adapted, influenced, and altered their natural and social environments. We work on issues surrounding the management of archaeological sites and cultural heritage, and the relationship between indigenous and minoritized groups in archaeology. We foster indigenous scholarship and promote collaborative relationships with tribal and local community stakeholders.

Biological Anthropology

Biological anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that examines biological aspects of the human species from comparative, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives. At the University of Oregon, biological anthropology consists of a highly cohesive and diverse group of faculty and students who apply an evolutionary perspective to a broad array of anthropological topics that include human biology, evolutionary medicine, human behavioral ecology, molecular anthropology, primate evolution, paleontology, and primatology. The biological anthropology program at UO is highly interdisciplinary with ongoing collaborations with the other anthropological subfields, researchers across the UO campus, and scientists around the world.

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology at the UO embraces a diverse array of approaches to the study of culture and society. Students learn to take what we often see as individual experiences and connect them to larger social issues, achieving cross-cultural understanding and critical social awareness. Faculty and graduate students in the department conduct research on a wide range of theoretical questions about culture and society, applying ethnographic, historical, comparative and interdisciplinary methodologies. Cultural anthropology faculty conduct research in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, West Africa, North America and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The faculty’s areas of focus include:

  • Inequality and power: social justice, indigenous and human rights, migration, social movements, identity and representations, nationalisms, religion, race, sex, gender and sexuality
  • Engaging communities: cultural heritage, historic preservation, cultural resource management, expressive culture and performance, critical and decolonial praxis/methods
  • Global cultural connections: globalization, political economy, development, nationalisms, labor, tourism, migration, area studies, conflict, psychology, folklore, and medical anthropology.