CUNY Physical Anthropology

About the Program

All CUNY physical anthropology students participate in the NYCEP training program, while fulfilling the requirements of the CUNY Graduate Center PhD Program in Anthropology. In brief, students undertake 60 credits of course work during the first three years of their graduate training, followed by focused research on their dissertation topic. All students have an advisor/mentor from the start of their graduate career. In fact, part of the admissions process involves the willingness of a faculty member to serve as such an advisor. It is possible for a student to change advisors if their research interests become modified over the course of their graduate studies.

In the first year, CUNY physical anthropology students take an integrated series of three NYCEP core courses, which are designed to provide background across the major areas of evolutionary primatology. These courses are taught by a team of faculty from all of the universities participating in the NYCEP program in order to provide students with differing viewpoints and a chance to meet faculty from all the schools. Other courses taken in the first year are drawn from a range of advanced offerings or those designed to meet the general CUNY Anthropology PhD program requirements. At the end of their first year, students take their First Exam - a written comprehensive exam based on the NYCEP core and other first year courses. A statistics course is highly recommended in the first or second year. A course in human gross anatomy is required for students focusing on morphology and paleontology and one or more courses on primate conservation are required for students focusing on primate behavior or ecology. The CUNY PhD program in Anthropology also requires that all students complete core courses in cultural/linguistic anthropology and archaeology (previous undergraduate or graduate coursework may fulfill this requirement). Students must also demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.

In the second year, students take the NYCEP course on Professional Development, which introduces them to such topics as the ethical conduct of science, federal regulations for research involving animals and humans, data sharing and ownership, research collaboration and teamwork (especially with investigators in other countries), responsible leadership, conflict of interest, mentor-trainee relationships, successful proposal-writing, effective oral and written presentation of research results, the publication process and peer review, and the job-search and tenure-promotion process. This course meets biweekly on Friday afternoons over the course of a full year; in alternate weeks advanced students, faculty and visitors present talks about current research in the NYCEP Seminar, which is attended by all NYCEP students and faculty. Prospective students who visit us are encouraged to visit on Friday afternoon in order to attend a session and meet numerous faculty and students at one time; please arrange in advance with a faculty member. After all course requirements are completed in the third year, students must present and defend a dissertation research proposal.

In addition to formal courses, each student will be expected to undertake three directed research projects, called internships (essentially a tutorial or independent study). During their first year, students will get to know faculty members from all five institutions and learn about the diversity of their research. They may take an internship with their advisor in the first year, either for credit or not, depending on other courses offered; it is recommended that all students complete one internship by the end of their third term. A report on that internship is usually part of the NYCEP Professional Development course (see above; segment on public speaking and teaching), and all NYCEP faculty and students are expected to attend the set of student presentations. Then in the second and third years, students will arrange with faculty members to take a credit-earning tutorial or independent study in which they will be trained in the research methods used by that scholar and then carry out a circumscribed project, either individually or together with the faculty member. At least one such internship will be undertaken at an institution other than CUNY, one (possibly the same as the preceding) will be in a field other than the student's primary area of concentration (broadly speaking: morphology/paleontology, genetics/molecular biology or behavior/ecology), and might be linked to a fieldwork experience. One of the main goals of the internship system is to encourage students to publish early in their career, before focusing full-time on dissertation research.

A number of field research projects are being undertaken by CUNY and other NYCEP faculty, mainly during the summer. Funds are available to permit CUNY physical anthropology students to participate in one or more of these projects in order to learn field techniques and develop a clearer understanding of the problems involved in field research. All students are expected to take part in such an international field experience during the summer after their first or second year, with a second field trip or other research funding available to aid in developing a dissertation proposal.

Further general information on the CUNY PhD Program in Anthropology can be found on the CUNY Graduate Center Anthropology Prospective Students page and in the Program Handbook.