Human Paleobiology

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus

Program Overview

**Fall - PH.D: The Human Paleobiology PHD program will not be accepting applications for the 2021-2022 academic year.**


The human paleobiology doctoral program is the graduate education and training effort of the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, which promotes interdisciplinary research on human evolution. Because fossils, artifacts and genomes are complex and mostly indirect sources of data for testing evolutionary hypotheses, research questions in human evolutionary studies exemplify the importance of an interdisciplinary approach.

The Ph.D. is a five-year program featuring rigorous core training in human paleontology, archaeology, molecular biology, genomics, behavior, ecology, and statistical methods.  The program emphasizes problem-based learning and training and internships in how science is communicated to the public—for example, through TV, news, museums and the Internet.

The first two years of the Ph.D. program primarily consist of coursework, a professional skills and ethics seminar, a grant-writing course focused on preparing a dissertation proposal, and practical experiences that integrate original research and coursework from the earliest stages of graduate training. During the second and third years, students participate in two topically distinct laboratory rotations to broaden their research skills. Following the second year, students begin directed research on their doctoral dissertations while participating in a capstone seminar. Students are encouraged to submit their dissertation in a ready-to-publish format by the end of the fifth year.


There are two separate PhD programs affiliated with the Anthropology department (Anthropology and Human Paleobiology), with separate admissions procedures. Please be sure that you are submitting your application to the correct program.


The PhD and MS in Human Paleobiology are STEM-designated degree programs.

Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines:
Fall – Ph.D. - **The Human Paleobiology PHD program will not be accepting applications for the 2021-2022 academic year.**
          M.S. - February 1
Standardized test scores:
GRE general exam is recommended but not required for both the MS and the PhD (institutional code 5246).
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE Academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university in the United States or from an institution located in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction. 
Minimum scores for the PhD program are:
  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual score below 6.0; or
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based or 100 on Internet-based;  or
  • PTE Academic: 68;
Minimum scores for the M.S. program are:
  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 6.0 with no individual score below 5.0; or
  • TOEFL: 550 on paper-based or 80 on Internet-based;  or
  • PTE Academic: 53
Recommendations required:
Three (3) recommendations for PhD program; two (2) recommendations for MS program.
Prerequisite requirements:
A bachelor’s degree in anthropology, biological sciences, geological sciences, psychology, or other cognate discipline from an accredited college or university. Advanced undergraduate coursework in one or more of the following subjects is desirable: biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, geoscience, and calculus.
Prior academic records:
Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be uploaded to your online application. Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.
If transcripts are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided. The English translation alone should be uploaded into your application.
Statement of purpose:
In an essay of 250 – 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests, and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application.
International applicants only:
Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents and English language requirements.

For more information on the admission process, please visit the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Frequently Asked Questions page.

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Admissions Office
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 107
Washington DC 20052

Contact for questions:
[email protected] ~ 202.994.6210 (phone) ~ 202.994.6213 (fax)
8:30 am – 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday