Skip to Content

Department of Anthropology

Graduate Studies

The Program And Its Goals

Vanderbilt University has created a unique program of education and research focused on the social relations, culture, biology, and history of past and present peoples of Latin America. The graduate program in anthropology provides intensive training and research opportunities to a small, select group of graduate students with the objective of producing scholars who will be successful in obtaining teaching and research positions. A high faculty-student ratio allows small seminars, close interaction, and collaboration with faculty in field and lab research. While the regional focus of the department is Latin America, formal training stresses broad preparation in the discipline of anthropology. Students are introduced to all of the four subfields of anthropology, with an emphasis on social theory. The goal of the department is to educate professional scholars with experience in field research, who have the theoretical breadth to teach and produce work that is of significance beyond their specializations. This strategy has proven to be successful, as measured by graduates' publications, research, and placement in academic and government positions.


The Department

The department has one of the largest teams of Latin American anthropologists in the nation, with 13 full-time faculty in addition to several research professors, lecturers, and adjuncts, as well as anthropologists in other departments and schools of the University. The Department of Anthropology’s research and training resources include artifact and osteological collections, a Spatial Analysis Research Lab (SARL), a Bioarchaeology Isotope Lab, and laboratories for genetic and cognitive anthropology research. In addition to graduate fellowships, students have access to internal competitive funding for research, travel, and dissertation writing.  Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-run field- and lab research projects and may collaborate on resulting publications. At present, faculty members are conducting major cultural, biological, historical, and archaeological projects in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil, and among Hispanic populations in Tennessee. The department has institutional affiliations with the universities and research facilities in each of these nations. The department publishes the Vanderbilt University Publications in Anthropology (VUPA),  a series presenting scientific research in all subdisciplines of anthropology, and the Vanderbilt Institute of Mesoamerican Archaeology Monograph Series, which publishes archaeological research by Vanderbilt faculty, Ph.D.s, and other scholars. The department is also the editorial seat of two journals:  The International Journal of Historical Archaeology (published by Springer Press) and Ancient Mesoamerica (published by Cambridge University Press). 

The University And Its Facilities

Vanderbilt University is a private institution enrolling approximately 6,900 undergraduates and 6,000 graduate and professional students in ten schools. The University has a traditional and growing strength in Latin American studies, as reflected in its faculty, library holdings, and campus activities. Students and faculty with interests in Latin America come together in the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), which maintains its own publication and lecture series and provides student funding. Collections in the anthropology of Latin America are one of the strengths of the Vanderbilt library. The Department of Anthropology also has strong ties to Medicine, Health, and Society (MHS), where several anthropologists are on faculty and may serve on the dissertation committees of Anthropology graduate students. Several anthropology faculty also have research collaborations with faculty in Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), so graduate students often participate in those research endeavors.

Back Home   

In the News

The Anthropology Department at Vanderbilt University invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor in biological anthropology, beginning fall semester 2016. Applicants should have extensive experience in one of the subfields of biological anthropology (excluding paleoanthropology and primatology), with a preference for epigenetics and/or genetics. 

The ideal candidate will have research and teaching specialties that include the biology of inequality and health disparities, and a research focus in Latin America or among Latino, immigrant, indigenous, or minority communities in the Americas. The scholarly agenda should be conducive to collaborative work across subfields and disciplines, and research and teaching in cooperation with Vanderbilt’s Program in Medicine, Health, and Society and the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute. Ph.D. required by time of appointment. 

Teaching responsibilities include four courses per year, with undergraduate and graduate classes in the applicant’s specialty areas as well as general bioanthropology. Application deadline is October 15, 2015, but we will continue to review applications until the position is filled. We intend to interview candidates at the AAA meetings in Denver.  Vanderbilt University is committed to recruiting and retaining an academically and culturally diverse community of exceptional faculty. Vanderbilt is an AA/EO employer and particularly encourages applications from minorities, women, and members of other underrepresented groups. Please email cover letter, c.v., evidence of teaching effectiveness, if available, and names and email addresses of three references to Tiffiny Tung, Search Committee Chair, in care of:, with subject line: ATTN: Tung, Bioanthropology Faculty Search.


Employer will assist with relocation costs. 
This employer does prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation/preference. 
This employer does prohibit discrimination based on gender identity/expression.
This employer offers health insurance benefits to eligible same-sex domestic partners.
This employer does not appear on the AAUP list of censured institutions.