Department of Anthropology PhD Handbook
Intro and Table of Contents
The PhD Handbook has been prepared for the use by doctoral students and faculty in the Field of Anthropology at Cornell University. It should be read in conjunction with the Code of Legislation, which sets the policies governing advanced degree programs throughout the University.
We encourage you to engage The PhD Handbook as a living document. It will evolve over time, both in terms of its content (as changes are made to the graduate program of study) and in terms of its clarity and comprehensiveness in describing the existing program. You can shape this evolution. If you have feedback or suggestions, please communicate them to the Director of Graduate Studies.
- Anthropology Graduate Program Overview
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Introductory Vocabulary
- Field Exams
- Graduate School Milestones
- Doctoral Committees
- Student Progress Review (SPR)
- Advanced Graduate Student Presentation
- Health Insurance
- Leaves of Absence
- Graduate Student Resources
Anthropology Graduate Program Overview
The Graduate Field of Anthropology at Cornell is driven by deeply engaged, theoretically innovative and methodologically rigorous scholarship. Our doctoral training program equips students with a deep knowledge of the discipline’s intellectual history, subtle understanding of theoretical debates, and diverse approaches to contemporary issues. Methodological training emphasizes ethnographic and archaeological techniques embracing allied approaches that range from the humanities to the physical sciences. Questions of justice and commitments to decolonizing the discipline are at the heart of our collective and individual work.
The Graduate Field includes the faculty in the Department of Anthropology along with anthropologists who hold primary appointments in other departments on campus. Most members of the Field of Anthropology are also members of one or more of Cornell's many area studies, ethnic studies, or interdisciplinary programs, such as Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Feminist, Sexuality and Gender Studies (FGSS). Students can take courses and work with faculty from any of these programs. The field has particularly strong groups of graduate faculty members in the anthropology of medicine and science, environment and economy, nation and nationalisms, gender and identity, development and humanitarianism.
Cornell's unique structure as a land grant university that joins both private and contract colleges, provides students with the opportunity to gain substantial training in a broad range of theoretical and practical applications of the discipline. Cornell's Libraries offer extensive holdings of special interest to anthropologists, including the world-renowned Wason-Echols Collections on South, Southeast, and East Asian history, cultures and languages in the Kroch Library.
The graduate program in anthropology is highly individualized and interdisciplinary. The courses that the field requires for doctoral students are limited to three seminar courses, one proposal writing workshop, and the Friday colloquium series during the first year. The bulk of students' course work in theory, methods, area studies, language, and other training is individually designed in consultation with the Special Committee. In this way, graduate training and mentorship is tailored to the interests and specific needs of each student.
In order to obtain a PhD in Anthropology, students must complete the following steps: the core and concentration coursework; the Qualifying Exam, or Q-exam (before the end of the third semester); the Admission to Candidacy examination, or A-Exam (before the end of the sixth semester); and defense of a research-based doctoral dissertation, or B-Exam (before the end of the fourteenth semester). Additionally, students must make satisfactory academic progress each year, which is formally assessed by the student’s committee in the Student Progress Review each spring semester after the first year in the program.
Independent field-based research is the foundation of the doctoral dissertation and the B-exam. Most graduate students in the Field of Anthropology at Cornell go on to complete at least one year (and often more) of intensive research. Fieldwork is typically conducted in the fourth and fifth years of the graduate program. In recent years, all of our graduate students have received additional funding, either from Cornell or from major external sources such as NSF, Fulbright, SSRC, and Wenner-Gren to conduct both preliminary and dissertation field research. Upon completion of their fieldwork, students usually return to Ithaca for one to two years of writing up. Appendix A includes a sample timeline for the degree that illustrates one pathway to finishing six years.
All doctoral candidates are also expected to teach at some point in their program. Most students first obtain experience as teaching assistants in introductory or mid-level courses. Later, many design and teach a seminar of their own through the Knight Writing Program. In addition, all doctoral candidates are required to offer a field-wide presentation after their fieldwork has been completed and before they graduate.
Faculty in the Field of Anthropology are committed not only to the intellectual training of our students, but also to their professionalization. While the academic program of each student is generated in collaboration with the student’s Special Committee, mentoring and professionalization are taken as full field activities. A vigorous weekly colloquium series enriches the intellectual environment for both students and faculty. Students are invited to participate in the workings of the department from organizing speakers and curricular issues to admissions and hiring. The field has had great success in supporting the vast majority of our students to find academic employment at major colleges and universities in the U.S. or abroad. We are also proud of those students who have chosen a different career path, bringing anthropological skills into diverse fields and expanding the career trajectories of people with PhDs in Anthropology.
NOTE: We do not support a terminal MA program in Anthropology. Many of our archeological faculty, however, are also central to the CIAMS program which does offer an MA degree.
Diversity and Inclusion
We are committed to developing concrete, anti-racist actions in our department and on our campus. This ranges from field-wide conversations fostered in our colloquium series (2020-2021 on Decolonizing Anthropology; 2021-2022 on Anthropology Otherwise) to workshops focused on confronting the ways systematic bias has shaped our discipline’s history and contemporary methods. We strive to create a supportive, inclusive place where compassionate discussion, rigorous debate, and brave work is possible. We are committed to fighting discrimination in all its forms and to supporting access to resources for our community and those who may have experienced bias.
The Department of Anthropology = dominant physical reality
- located in McGraw Hall, sets curriculum, hires faculty, appoints TA’s
- headed by Department Chair and guided by principles of the College of Arts & Sciences
- a significant number of our faculty are jointly appointed (i.e. they are appointed as faculty in anthropology as well as in another department or program, teaching half time in each)
The Graduate Field of Anthropology = graduate unit
- some Fields are widely dispersed across campus; Anthropology currently has additional graduate faculty in S&TS, Classics, Near Eastern Studies, Fiber Science & Apparel Design, and International Labor Relations.
- admits, funds, and evaluates graduate students, sets requirements for graduate degrees
- headed by Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and guided by principles of the Graduate School
- most faculty are members of more than one Graduate Field
The Special Committee = the small group of faculty who supervise a particular student’s graduate degree study (called the doctoral committee or thesis supervisory committee at other institutions): selected by the student; administers examinations; approves courses for study; approves theses; in many ways, the committee is the ultimate arbiter of each student’s academic program.
The Committee System = a phrase used to describe the fact that at Cornell, graduate study depends heavily upon the student’s working relationship with their Special Committee, in particular the majority of the student’s specific academic program (pathway through the PhD) is designed in collaboration with their Special Committee members.
The DGS = the Director of Graduate Studies, a faculty member who serves in this position for a set term. The DGS chairs the Graduate Affairs Committee, a select group of faculty from the field, who spearhead curricular and program work in the graduate field as well as facilitate recruitment and admission processes. The DGS offers a point of contact for all graduate students to the Graduate Field beyond their Special Committee and with the Graduate School.
The GFA = the Graduate Field Assistant, a staff member who is employed by the field and whose office sits in the department. The GFA assists students in all contractual relations with the university, forms and petitions to the Graduate School, scheduling of exams, and other structural relations within the program and with the Graduate School.
There are five specific course requirements for the Cornell PhD program. Many of our students enter our PhD program having completed MA degrees elsewhere already. These courses are required even for those students with an MA from elsewhere. Only in very exceptional situations can a student petition out of these courses. Through these required courses students develop a shared sense of what the discipline has been and what it can be. These courses are cohort building; students within each cohort develop a sense of their individual and shared intellectual commitments as well as in investment in each other’s projects. Furthermore, the collective exploration of texts, topics, and approaches they foster, are at the heart of the dynamic evolution of Cornell Anthropology.
- Anthr 6020 History of Anthropological Thought
- Anthr 6025 Proseminar
- ANTHR 7900 Department of Anthropology Colloquium (taken S/U)
- a research methods course of your choice (There are multiple courses through which students can meet this requirement. Individual student options are to be determined in conversation with your committee).
- a proposal design and development course (There are several options to meet this requirement including Anthro 6440 Research Proposal Development and Anthro/Arkeo 6250 Archaeological Research Design.)
These five requirements are usually fulfilled in the first two years (Anth4 6020, 6025, and 7900 taken the first year, and the method and proposal design the second year).
All additional coursework that is necessary for a student’s doctoral training is determined in collaboration with the student’s Special Committee. Course work is usually completed in the first three years of the program.
Field exams required for the PhD program in the Graduate Field of Anthropology
All forms noted here are available in PDF format online or as fully automated online forms on the Graduate School website; copies of all forms should be given to Graduate Field Assistant before they are submitted to the Graduate School.
Official Graduate School procedures for all exams (“Q,” “A,” & “B”)
I. For scheduling and reporting exams:
A. There are Graduate School forms for both scheduling and reporting the results of both A-Exams and B-Exams. (There are no forms for Q-Exams; the committee chair should send a note to the DGS and GFA indicating when the exam was taken and results.)
B. Scheduling: it is the student’s responsibility to get the scheduling of examination form from the Graduate School website https://gradschool.cornell.edu/academic-progress/thesis-dissertation/scheduling-and-taking-exams/. Students must work to identify a time when all committee members can meet for the Exam and to obtain the necessary signatures. This form is to be signed and submitted online at least seven calendar days before the exam and a copy will be directed to the GFA so that they can announce your exam to the Field. The GFA will need to know the exam location in order to book the room ahead of time. Please note that failure to make that public announcement can invalidate the exam. Therefore, it is critical that the student arrange the Exam and communicate the details with the GFA in a timely manner. (Also note that neither the scheduling nor the announcement should be done much sooner than the seven-day limit since once it is done, the exam must occur. Officially scheduling too early leaves too much time for things to go wrong.)
C. Reporting results: it is the student’s responsibility to file the result of examination form online at https://gradschool.cornell.edu/forms/ directly after the oral exam; it must be filed within three business days afterwards (students are to begin the submission online themselves).
II. About proxies and exam participation:
The Graduate School has rules about who must be present for both the “A” and the “B” Exams and about proxies; it is the student’s responsibility to make sure that the exam complies with Graduate School legislation. For example:
A. The Chair of a committee and the student must both be physically present for the “A” and “B” Exams: The Chair cannot have a proxy; neither the student nor the Chair may participate via remote technologies, unless there are extreme circumstances and permission has been granted ahead of time by the Graduate School.
B. Up to one minor member can be represented by a proxy from the same Graduate Field (including another member already on the Committee) or may participate via remote technologies (as long as neither modification means that there will be fewer than three live committee-member bodies in the room).
C. These rules change frequently – consult the current Code of Legislation for specifics.
Specific additional instructions for the different examinations:
I) The Qualifying Exam (The Q-Exam)
A. This exam is a requirement of the Field of Anthropology, not the Graduate School.
B. The Qualifying Examination should take place in the second semester of graduate registration or, at the latest, before the end of the third semester.
C. There is no official form for scheduling this examination, but the committee chair should send a note to the DGS and GFA indicating when the exam was taken and final results (satisfactory, with reservations, unsatisfactory).
D. The Field requires that all members of the newly formed Special Committee be present for the Qualifying Examination.
E. The format and content of the Qualifying Examination is set by the student’s newly formed Special Committee, especially its Chair, to determine whether or not students are qualified to continue in their proposed courses of study. Typically, students will circulate to committee members a brief statement on their current research plans (approximately 2 pages); plans for coursework; plans and schedule for applying for funding; preliminary research plans; and planned A-Exam themes with each committee member. The pre-circulated document serves as a foundation for the Q-Exam conversation and is understood as a provisional planning document. The Q-Exam in anthropology is rarely an “exam” in the classic sense, but it does investigate the student’s proposed course of study and it determines what the student must do as far as course work, language study, preliminary research, or other training. Students who will not fulfill any of the individual requirements set by the Field of Anthropology for graduate study must have the full support of their committee and should petition the DGS for exemption at the time of this Qualifying Examination.
II) The Admission to Candidacy Examination (The A-Exam)
This exam is a requirement of both the Field of Anthropology and the Graduate School. (This means that there is an official form located online for scheduling and reporting this exam.)
A. According to Grad School legislation, the A-Exam cannot occur before completion of at least two semesters of graduate study and must be taken before beginning the seventh semester of study.
B. The A-Exam will have both written and oral components, the format and content of which are set by the Special Committee. This means that there is quite a bit of variation in the structure of this exam from student to student.
- Written components: Questions are designed by the individual committee members. Students should begin discussing the written A-exams with their committee well in advance of planning to take the oral: a full semester in advance is typical.
- Oral component: A copy of all written materials produced for the A-Exam should be given to all members of the Special Committee at least 10-days before the exam. This typically includes a research proposal. The oral exam is generally 2-hrs long. Consult with the Chair of your Special Committee about the format of the oral component. In addition, inform the GFA as soon as you have a tentative date for the oral part of your A-Exam scheduled and let the GFA know if you would like the Chair’s office reserved for the exam.
C. A copy of your proposal for dissertation research (signed by your chair) and the exam scheduling form must be submitted online to the GFA in anthropology via the grad school exam website at least one week prior to your exam (and hence officially schedule the oral part of the A-exam with) the Graduate School.
D. The Field of Anthropology accepts three possible results from an A-Exam:
- The student may be passed (“admitted to candidacy”) and, at the same time, be awarded a master’s degree (called the “special Masters”) without submitting an MA thesis.
- The student may be failed (“not admitted to candidacy”) but still be awarded a master’s degree (often referred to as a “terminal MA”).
- The student may be failed and not awarded an MA.
III. The Oral Defense of Doctoral Dissertation (The B-Exam)
A. The B-Exam is a requirement of both the Field of Anthropology and the Graduate School. It is to be taken upon completion of all requirements for the degree, no earlier than one month before completion of the minimum registration requirement (Code F.1.d.)
B. Students must submit a copy of the Schedule B Examination form online. It will be signed by all committee members, as well as the DGS and GFA, before being submitted to the graduate school for approval. You will receive an email approval message when the all signatures and the grad school approval is complete.
C. The B-Exam in anthropology must comply in all regards with Graduate School regulations regarding scheduling, participation, circulation of copies of the dissertation draft, reporting of results, and filing of the final dissertation. Students are responsible for filing all petitions/forms.
- According to the Grad School, the B-Exam must happen within seven years of matriculation for graduate study at Cornell. Because of fieldwork, anthropology graduate students sometimes exceed this limit; this requires a petition to the Graduate School for a “time to degree extension.” Petitions require full support of your Special Committee as well as the DGS and must be made a semester at a time. Extensions may be granted by submitting a General Petition form, which can be found on the grad schools Forms page. Please include a detailed plan for completing all remaining degree requirements.
- If you change the composition of your committee after the A-Exam, new members must approve the results of that examination (and be given the opportunity to ask new questions if they wish), the Dean of the Graduate School must approve the change, and you may not schedule a thesis defense sooner than three months after a committee change.
- The Graduate School will not confirm a degree unless and until all the pertinent fees/bills have been paid, including the “Active File Fee” of $200 for every semester since your last registration at Cornell, up to a maximum of $1200.
D. Dissertation Filing Fee: The dissertation filing fee ($135) for doctoral candidates covers costs of submitting a master copy of the entire dissertation to ProQuest, publishing the abstract in the monthly periodical Dissertation Abstracts International, and printing and binding of the archival copy for Cornell University Library.
E. Late Filing Fee: Students are allowed 60 days after the final examination to submit approved copies of the dissertation or thesis to the Graduate School. A late-filing fee ($100) will be charged if this requirement is not met.
REMEMBER: It is in your interest to remind the faculty about the time and place of your examinations.
Graduate School Milestones
Per the Code of Legislation, the Graduate Faculty requires both research master’s and doctoral students to have identified (or to have been assigned) a Special Committee Chair or a temporary advisor no later than three weeks after the first registration in the Graduate School (submitted to the Graduate School via Student Center). Per the Code, the Graduate Faculty requires research master’s students to have a full Special Committee no later than the end of the second semester and doctoral students to have a full Special Committee no later than the end of the third semester.
Per the Code of Legislation, the Graduate Faculty requires all research degree students, both master’s and doctoral, to complete the online certification in responsible conduct of research, including authorship, peer review and consequences of research misconduct. This training is through the Cornell Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA) and must be completed before the end of the second semester (Code E.2.a.).
Incoming graduate students in Anthropology are assigned a temporary, first-year advisor. At the end of the first year, after students have had a chance to meet the field faculty in person, they choose a permanent advisor for their Special Committee (see below). A student’s permanent supervisor and chair need not be the same as their temporary, first-year advisor. Students should seek to build a Special Committee that best supports their doctoral research and training.
Typical composition of graduate committees (mandatory features are in bold):
A. Chair: must be a faculty member in the Graduate Field of Anthropology (not a visiting or otherwise ineligible faculty member)
B. MA-only committees: must have at least one other member (called a ‘minor’ member)
C. MA/PhD committees: must have at least two other members (‘minor’)
- Most Anthro MA/PhD committees have three other members:
- Chair: in Anthro
- Minor members: may be in Anthro, may be listed as representing Anthro or another field; a typical array of minor members on an Anthro MA/PhD committee might be:
- One person representing your geographical area (who might be also in History, or Art, or...) but who officially would represent, for example, Asian Studies
- One person representing another aspect of anthropology important to you (who could also be in anthropology and could either be listed as representing anthropology or as representing any other Field of which that person is a member, as pertinent to your studies, e.g. Landscape Architecture, Nutrition, or Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)
- One person representing another substantive area of your interest (who is not affiliated with anthropology at all and who would therefore represent that other field on your committee, e.g. Law or Veterinary Medicine...)
D. The Field of Anthropology expects students to have identified a permanent Chair during their second semester and to have a complete committee before enrolling in classes in the third semester. This expectation is based on the importance of a full or near-full active committee before undertaking summer study or research after the first year! The guidance and mentorship are critical in setting out a student’s academic program before the first summer of preliminary fieldwork or study. With that said, if a student’s project or needs change, they are free to change the composition of their committee including the faculty member who serves as the chair of their Special Committee.
E. The Graduate School requires MA-only students to have a full committee before they can register for their 2nd semester and PhD students before their 4th semester.
Special Committee Selection & Change: To choose or change an advisor, you may submit a request online from the “Advisor” section of your Student Center.
A. must be done immediately, listing your “Temporary Advisor” as “Chair”
B. the Chair must always be listed as representing the following:
- major field: Anthropology
- one “concentration” in Anthropology: either sociocultural anthropology or archaeology
C. Minor members
- must also always list the major Field they represent on your committee (which must come from the list of legal Fields–see Grad School literature/website)
- must also list a concentration where relevant
A. for each semester: three types
- in residence: for full-time on-campus work toward your degree, gives 1 residence unit for each successful semester
- in absentia: for full-time work toward your degree away from campus, also gives 1 residence unit for each successful semester
- on leave: when you are not working toward your degree (whether for medical, personal or professional reasons such as employment)
B. different from “Course Enrollment” (which must be done within the first 3 weeks of each semester): signs you up for specific courses
Cornell-based fellowships (Sage, FLAS, Peace Studies, FGSS, etc.)
The Sage Fellowships are two-year fellowships—first year and then dissertation year—with four summers of funding. These include stipend, tuition, and individual health insurance. Sage fellowships cannot be stacked with another fellowship in the same academic year.
- Generally used as “bookends”, that is, in first and final years of graduate study.
- Sage can be “banked”, that is, postponed or saved for later if you accept another fellowship, research assistantship or teaching assistantship; others typically cannot be saved for later.
- It is wise to save some fellowship funding for after fieldwork, if at all possible, because funding that supports students focusing on intensive writing is scarce.
- Summer Sage Fellowships can be saved or “banked,” i.e., if you do not use it in one summer it will be saved for your use during another.
- Summer funding supports study and research, not vacation or visits home.
- You must register each spring for summer study in order to receive your summer funding that year.
- Please check graduate school requirements and updates on accessing funding.
Other Cornell-based sources of funding
- The Einaudi Center, the Society of the Humanities, and the Center for Social Sciences have travel grants, research support, and conference funding. Many interdisciplinary programs (such as Peace Studies, FGSS and area studies programs) have both academic year fellowships & TA-ships. For some, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships may be appropriate to apply for as well.
- Departmental funds: The Endowment Fund & Supplemental Awards (Fall and Spring cycles).
- The Graduate School has funds for travel to give papers at professional conferences.
- The Graduate School website compilation is very good (and searchable), but not absolutely complete, check Einaudi for international research funding https://gradschool.cornell.edu/financial-support/fellowships/
- Everyone is expected to apply for everything for which they are eligible; and should accept fellowships that are offered (postponements and other personally desirable rearrangements require consultation with committee and DGS).
- Getting outside fellowships not only helps the Cornell resources go further, it is an integral part of building the professional dossier each of you needs to be successful.
- The graduate school may offer “top-off” supplementation to students who win external awards that brings student funding to a full fellowship award level. If you win any external grant, be sure to check here to see if you are eligible for supplementation funds.
- These are the only Field-controlled source of funding for graduate students.
- Please remember that TA-ships begin one week before the semester starts & continue until all grades and paperwork have been submitted.
- You are responsible for timely notification of DGS if you want to be appointed as a TA (by April 1 of previous year for both Fall and Spring semesters of following academic year).
- Relation of TA-ships to other sources of funding (whether external grants such as NSF or Cornell-determined such as FLAS): your guarantee of X number of years of support (usually, but not always, five years, typically phrased as “two years of fellowship, three years of TA ship”) does guarantee you will have at least that number of years of fellowship support from the department if you remain in good standing. It does not guarantee that all the rest of your support will necessarily be in the form of TA-ships since, if you are successful in obtaining additional fellowship support (whether from Cornell or outside), fellowship support will replace the need for TA assignment.
- Priorities/constraints in assigning TA-ships:
(1) to fund all students through their entire course of study;
(2) to juggle each student’s individual opportunities/needs;
(3) generous but not unlimited resources.
- Therefore: priority for TA appointments basically follows the numbers of years in program (assuming continued support by committee & reasonable progress toward degree): the longer you have been funded by any source to be in the program, the lower your official priority for a TA position will be. In some, but not all, instances we have been able offer support beyond the guaranteed support.
- Students returning from the field are strongly encouraged to request to TA in their first semester back (if sufficient TA-ships are available). Most students find the engagement in the Department and with other students very conducive to conceptualizing their thesis and beginning to write. Most students find they have the 15 hrs/wk required by ordinary TA-ships. Students benefit most from their last year of Sage fellowship support during those specific months when they are engaged in intensive writing.
FWS (First-year Writing Seminars)
- Excellent (“native”) English language proficiency and good writing ability required. Prior or concurrent enrollment in “Teaching Writing” course taught by the Knight Writing Center is required.
- Because FWS are designed and taught by advanced graduate students independently, they offer an important opportunity to gain teaching experience (as well as a way to fund a final semester of graduate study).
- FWS are time-consuming appointments, so students should bear this in mind in semesters when they may be engaged in the most intensive writing of their dissertations.
- The number of FWS openings available to graduate students is directly dependent upon the number of FWS taught by faculty (more faculty teaching FWS may mean fewer graduate courses, but more graduate funding...).
- FWS proposals for fall and spring seminars are due in mid-March of the previous year.
Student Progress Reports
Second year students and beyond are expected complete the SPR each year. The Student Progress Review (SPR) supports regular communication including written feedback between students and their advisors, requiring research degree students and their Special Committee to have at least one formal conversation each year about academic progress, accomplishments, and plans. Students complete a form describing milestones completed, accomplishments, challenges and plans. The Special Committee chair responds in writing and indicates whether the student’s progress is excellent, satisfactory, needs improvement, or is unsatisfactory.
Annual reviews are NOT for the purpose of ranking students, but rather for gauging individual progress and needs. Annual reports by each student, their chair, and any faculty for whom students have TA’ed all become part of the student’s permanent record. Students will be informed of any foreseeable difficulties.
Advanced Graduate Student Presentation
All Anthropology PhD students are expected to offer a colloquium talk, workshop, screening, installation, or seminar in the Anthropology Department during their dissertation writing phase. The rationale for this requirement is twofold: (1) to professionalize and better prepare students for a range of career opportunities, including job or postdoctoral fellowship talks, and (2) to inform the graduate field as a whole about the research themes, theories, and methodologies of our current and outgoing graduate students. Graduate students on a typical timeline would sign up to give a presentation in their second year of post-fieldwork dissertation writing. Graduate students should discuss the best timing with their faculty advisors and special committee members as they begin dissertation writing. The Public Affairs Committee will make an effort to schedule these presentations during the Anthropology Department’s regular colloquium time slot, but some may have to fall on alternate days and times. Students’ PhD committees may request that this requirement be waived under special circumstances.
- Health insurance is automatically included with Cornell fellowships and teaching assistantships.
- It is included (but not automatically) with many other fellowships. Be sure to ask!
- It is mandatory that you have health insurance during every semester that you are a student at Cornell. If it is not paid by another source then it is your responsibility. This is whether you are registered on campus or in absentia in the field, as you maintain student status with both (but not if you are on leave as you are then not officially a student). https://health.cornell.edu/get-care/health-requirements-new-students
Leaves of Absence
If you need to step away from your graduate training for a period of time, you may decide to take a leave of absence. Leaves may be requested for health, parental, or personal reasons. A leave pauses your student status, with the opportunity to return to your program at a set time. Because you do not have student status during a semester on leave, you do not have access to Cornell University resources (such as the library, gym, etc.)
A Health Leave of Absence (HLOA) is designed to provide students with a break from their studies to attend to treatment or management of a health condition. Any Cornell student can request to take an HLOA. The University’s goal is to enable students to address their health needs and return to complete their academic program. International students who take a health leave of absence may be able to remain in the US to seek treatment and maintain their student visa status, but this needs to be worked out on an individual basis.
- The Health Leaves Coordinator provides case management support and serves as a point of contact throughout the leave and return processes.
- There is no minimum duration for health leaves. The duration of the HLOA will depend upon the time the student needs for treatment and/or recovery and the resolution of academic conditions determined by the student’s college. The maximum duration is four years.
- Most tuition insurance policies will only provide reimbursement if a student needs to take a leave for medical reasons.
If you are considering a HLOA, please consider speaking with the Office of Graduate Student Life for help in understanding the range of details involved in applying for an being approved for this leave. The following forms can will assist with requesting, and returning from, a HLOA:
- HLOA request form
- HLOA documentation
- Personal Statement: Request to Return from a Health Leave of Absence
- HLOA Release of Information Authorization
Maternity and paternity accommodations, although not technically a leave, offers six weeks of paid accommodation (eight weeks for the birth mother for a cesarean section delivery) OR up to two semesters of reduced load status depending on your circumstances. To initiate the parental accommodation, complete and return the Parental Accommodation Request form.
A student may opt to take a leave of absence for personal reasons that are neither health related nor fit the criteria of a parental accommodation. Personal leaves are managed by the College of Arts and Sciences. They are typically available to student for up to 12 months and renewable for a maximum of four years.
Graduate Student Resources
You may find more on the Graduate Program on the Anthropology website, including the most up to date listing of faculty, graduate students, events, and news.
The Office of Academic and Student Affairs works with graduate faculty and graduate students on academic policy and programs, academic integrity and misconduct, responsible conduct of research, petitions requesting exceptions to graduate school policy as outlined in the Graduate Faculty’s Code of Legislation, and academic progress and students status. The office also offers academic, writing and professional development programs, including proposal/thesis/dissertation writing boot camp, the Productive Writer email (Sign Up), Graduate Write-Ins, Productive Writing workshops, Fellowship Application Writing Workshops and Fellowship Listserv Tips, Productive Fellowship Writer Mailing List, Writing and Publishing Workshop Series, Three Minute Thesis Competition, and the Advising Guide for Research Students.
The Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (OISE) supports an inclusive and welcoming
environment for all graduate and postdoctoral scholars, but especially for those from marginalized communities and/or backgrounds historically excluded from and underrepresented in the academy. OISE supports systemic change and promotes a climate of diversity, belonging, equity, engagement, and achievement, which are integral components of graduate and postdoctoral education. OISE supports scholar success through recruitment, diversity fellowships, mentoring, professional, leadership, and community development programming, and ongoing support.
Recognizing that health and academic performance are intimately linked, the Office of Graduate Student Life is a source of information, support, and advocacy that creates a more student-centered graduate student life experience. In addition to being a first-point of contact for students who are struggling or experiencing any form of distress, the Office of Graduate Student Life serves as a coordinating hub with campus-partners that focus on promoting a healthy and holistic student experience. More information on available support is available here.
Graduate Field Contacts
Stacey Langwick, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor
Laura Sabatini, Graduate Field Assistant
Graduate School Contacts
Jan Allen, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs
Sara Xayarath Hernández, Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement
Jason Kahabka, Associate Dean for Administration
Janna Lamey, Senior Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life