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Graduate Studies Calendar 2022-2023 Interdisciplinary Specializations Biological Anthropology BANT
Biological Anthropology BANT
Contact Information

Location: Earth Sciences 852
Program number: 403.220.2665
Fax: 403.282.9562
Email address:
Web page URL:

1. Degrees and Specializations Offered

The University offers an interdisciplinary specialization in Biological Anthropology to students registered in an existing graduate program. The student will receive the degree offered by the home program:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Master of Science (MSc), thesis-based
Master of Arts (MA), thesis-based

2. Admission Requirements

In addition to Faculty of Graduate Studies requirements, all applicants must meet the minimum standards of the home program. Admission to the specialization requires:

a) A Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree (and Master of Arts degree for admission to the PhD program) in Anthropology, Archaeology, Biology, Zoology, Ecology, or Health Sciences with a GPA of at least 3.30 on a four-point scale in the last two years of program or over the last 60 units.

b) An example of the applicant’s written work: a term paper, research paper, Master of Arts, or honours thesis that the applicant considers representative of their best work. Published work authored by the applicant is also acceptable provided the applicant is the sole or senior author.

c) A concise statement setting forth the applicant’s academic interests and reasons for wishing to pursue graduate work in the specialization. The area of thesis research should also be specified.

d) An up-to-date curriculum vitae.

3. Application Deadline

The deadlines for the submission of complete application is January 15 for September admission and funding.

4. Advanced Credit

The applicant must make advanced credit requests as part of the admission process. Credit will not be given for course work taken as part of another completed degree/diploma or for courses taken to bring the grade point average to a required level for admission.

5. Program/Course Requirements

In addition to Faculty of Graduate Studies and the home program requirements, the Specialization requires:

Master of Arts / Master of Science

a) Fifteen units, which shall include:

b) One optional course relevant to the proposed research topic.

c) All students are expected to have proficiency in statistics. The supervisor and two other faculty members of the specialization, in concert with the applicant, will determine if additional course work is needed in statistics, depending upon the applicant's background and proposed research area.

d) A season of field work offering appropriate experience for the proposed research (for example, primate field study, archaeological excavation, or field research in human biology), to be approved by the supervisor. However, students specializing in laboratory-based topics (for example, morphological studies or bone chemistry) may substitute an approved program of laboratory work for the field work requirement.

Doctor of Philosophy

a) Course Requirements:

If students entering the PhD specialization have completed the master's specialization in Biological Anthropology, or if they have completed equivalent courses in another master's program, they will not be required to repeat those courses. Rather, additional courses will be determined at the discretion of the student's supervisory committee. Normally, 18 units, which shall include (unless completed previously):

The number of courses required of each student may vary according to their particular needs as determined by the Supervisory Committee. Statistics will be required in the event the student's committee deems it necessary. The courses will be selected based on the student's previous statistics training and the type of data analyses to be conducted in the research.

b) Two seasons of fieldwork offering appropriate experience for the proposed research topic (for example, primate field study, archaeological excavation, or field research in human biology), to be approved by the supervisor. Fieldwork may have been undertaken before entry into the specialization and may be counted toward the fieldwork requirement. Students specializing in laboratory-based topics (for example, morphological studies or bone chemistry) may substitute an approved specialization of laboratory work for the fieldwork requirement.

c) Submission to the supervisory committee of a paper that demonstrates an ability to research and write a paper at a professional level.

d) Proficiency in a second language.

6. Additional Requirements


7. Credit for Undergraduate Courses

Students may apply for no more than one 500-level course for graduate credit, subject to the approval of the Program Director. Graduate students taking a 500-level course for graduate credit will be required to complete additional assignments.

8. Time Limit

Expected completion time for the MA and MSc is two years and maximum completion time is four years.

Expected completion time for the PhD is four years and maximum completion time is six years.

9. Supervisory Assignments

Students will be assigned a supervisor upon admission.

10. Required Examinations

Final thesis oral examinations are open.

Oral Candidacy Examinations

Following the completion of all course work, the research paper and the language requirement, doctoral students sit the Candidacy Examination. In the Biological Anthropology Graduate Specialization, the Candidacy Examination consists of two parts in sequence, as follows: (1) a written component and (2) an oral component.

The oral candidacy examination is required by University regulations and must be held no later than twenty-eight months following initial registration as a full-time graduate student in a PhD program. Students entering the doctoral program with a bachelor's degree, or transferring into a doctoral program from a master's program before the master's program is completed, must attempt the candidacy examinations no later than 36 months after initial registration in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

The Candidacy Examination in the Biological Anthropology Graduate Specialization consists of a written plus an oral examination administered by the Candidacy Examination Committee, composed of the Supervisory Committee plus two additional members, one of whom must be external to the Specialization if the External is not already a member of the Supervisory Committee.

The Candidacy Examination is an examination of the student's knowledge and abilities to reason, utilize the relevant literature, and to solve problems within the three fields or areas which have been set out.

In consultation with the student, the Supervisory Committee will determine three areas of knowledge for which the student will be responsible in their Candidacy Examination. These topics will be communicated (in writing) to the student, with copies to other members of the Supervisory Committee.

These topics will also be communicated to the two other members of the Candidacy Examination Committee, who must be selected no later than eight weeks prior to the oral examination.

Members of the Candidacy Examination Committee will each submit one or two questions, so that there are at least two questions within each of the three areas. The supervisor will select six questions from those submitted, and provide them to the student at least five weeks prior to the Oral Candidacy Examination. The student will select one question from each of the three areas for a total of three questions. The student will have two weeks in which to prepare answers to these questions as a take-home, open-book exam. Each answer should be approximately 6000 words. Copies of the completed examination will be distributed to all members of the Examination Committee. The Committee will assess the written exam on a Pass/Fail basis. The oral examination is conducted in accordance with Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations.

In the oral component of the Candidacy Examination, the written examinations will serve as the basis from which the examination shall proceed, but examiners are not limited to the written component in framing the questions asked, and questioning may range into cognate areas, at the discretion of the Neutral Chair.

Students must pass both the written and oral exams in order to pass the candidacy exam.

11. Research Proposal Requirements

Within twenty months of entering the program, the student, with the supervisor’s advice, develops a thesis research proposal. This is then transmitted to the student’s supervisory committee for agreement and to the Graduate Program Director of the student’s home program for approval and placed on file.

12. Financial Assistance

Financial assistance may be available to qualified students. For information on awards, see the Awards and Financial Assistance section of this Calendar.

Students applying for scholarships must submit their applications to the home program by January 2.

13. Other Information

Given the limited resources, the specialization may, in any year, admit fewer applicants than those who are qualified to undertake graduate studies.