Funding Stats for Anthropology (Archaeology) PhDs- How many get funded

Posted on October 6, 2011


Thinking about getting a Anthropology (Archaeology) PhD in the United States? Wondering how you are going to pay for it? I can’t answer that for you but here is a break down of how other PhD students funded their studies (the data is for all anthropology PhDs but it gives you a rough idea of what it is for archaeology PhDs). The data is from the National Academies which unfortunately was taken in 2005 but not released till last year, so it is a little out of date. Still it will serve as a good proxy for what the conditions are for Anthropology PhDs.

Quick facts from the data:

  • 82 Anthropology PhD programs surveyed (there are at least 100+ but a good sample)
  • 5039 students enrolled in a PhD program
  • On average 782 new students enroll each year

Out of the total students (5039) only 1315 (26%) are funded with 1027 receiving teaching assistantships and 288 having research assistantships. A strikingly low number but that probably counts quite a few All But Dissertation (ABD) students who have completed all of the requirements except for turning in their dissertation. Those students typically don’t have to pay full tuition or only a small fee. Still 74% of PhD students are supporting themselves, living-wise and possibly paying tuition, during a portion of their PhD.

What about starting off? This is a bit more complex lots of the universities (but not all) claim that they provide funding to 100% of incoming students. That still only puts it at 552 (71%) new PhD students receiving funding, the rest paying for themselves.

The breakdown of this funding is not consistent with those numbers-

anthropology PhD funding

anthropology PhD funding

According to the breakdown of where this funding comes from only 453 (58%) of new students receive funding. This could be the result of incomplete reporting on the part of universities or difference in average new students per year and the real number.

Summary– Between 58-71% of new PhDs will receive funding their first year yet close to 75% of anthropology PhDs are without funding. Furthermore, at a rate of 552 students (the max listed 71%) receiving full funding their first year only about two years of funding on average per student could accommodate this (1315/552 =2.38) before there would be no more funding for the new cohort of students. Either not that many students receive full funding (at 453 students = 2.9 years of possible funding) or a significant portion of those receiving funding only do so for a few years.

Basically, there is some funding for anthropology PhDs but expect to need your own support, to live or pay fees, for part of that time.