Anthropology is an international discipline. Our field-based research is conducted in a wide range of local languages and dialects, and our scholarship is routinely published in numerous languages. We therefore believe it is of utmost importance that the students we train be able to converse with and read the publications of their colleagues in some language in addition to English. Additionally, of course, dissertation research frequently requires facility in one or several local languages and/or dialects, for which proficiency must often be gained and demonstrated in advance.
We much prefer that students enter the doctoral program already equipped with foreign language skills, and in our admissions decisions we note carefully whether the applicant already has at least the basic foreign language skills relevant to the program of study and research he or she is proposing. For example, an applicant intending to concentrate on China, Japan, or Francophone Africa, but not exhibiting proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, or French, would be at a serious disadvantage in relation to other applicants.
Because of the diversity of our students’ training program, the Department does not have a general foreign language requirement, either for admission or for admission to Ph.D. candidacy. Rather, each student’s advisory committee must determine the necessary level and nature of foreign language proficiency (including scholarly languages and languages to be used in field research) to be met by the student, as well as any required competencies in statistics and other quantitative or qualitative methods. Advisory committees will stipulate such requirements in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies at the earliest possible stage of the student’s program of study for approval by the DGS and the Department faculty. Such committee stipulations should specify exactly when and how it will be determined that the student has or has not met the requirements.