In consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and subject to the approval of the Department faculty, each student forms an advisory committee of three faculty members by the end of the first semester in residence. This committee may, when appropriate to the student’s interests, include Yale faculty from outside the Department of Anthropology. One member of the anthropology faculty is designated chair of the committee and principal adviser to the student.
The advisory committee’s functions are to assist the student to formulate and carry out a broad scholarly program of study and research toward the Ph.D. and to evaluate the student’s progress up to the point of the commencement of dissertation research. Each student meets with his or her advisory committee at least once each semester and may meet with the chair (or any other member of the faculty) whenever mutually convenient or necessary. As the time approaches for the student to take the written and oral Ph.D. qualifying examinations (normally toward the end of the fourth semester of full-time graduate study), the student and committee members decide on one or two additional examiners and so recommend to the Department for approval. The additional examiners may include persons from outside the Department or even the University, although they will normally be persons already familiar with the student’s work. Following the oral examination and a thorough review of the student’s progress since admission, the examining committee recommends whether or not the student should be permitted to undertake dissertation research.
Because the scholarly and research interests of most students are readily identifiable as centering in one of the four conventionally recognized subfields of anthropology – social or cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological anthropology, and archaeology – the Department has found it administratively convenient to formulate guidelines for study within each of those subfields. It is recognized, however, that the boundaries of these subfields are to some degree conventional and do overlap and fluctuate, and that significant scholarly and scientific work often requires that they be transcended. Thus, students whose scholarly, scientific, and career goals span two or more of these subfields, and for that matter topics and skills in other sciences or humanities, may, with the assistance of their advisory committees, plan and pursue other broadly defined programs of study and research.