Prospective Graduate Students

I am actively seeking students to work with, although whether or not I can accept any students in any particular year will depend on the graduate application pool, the needs of the department as a whole, and ability to offer a competitive financial aid package to students. I am particularly interested in students who are working with issues of disability, social movements, and technology (regardless of region). I am especially interested in helping diversify Cal and academia by mentoring successive generations of disabled scholars, scholars of color, queer scholars, and other minoritized scholars.

I welcome e-mail from prospective graduate students who want to work with me and encourage you to write early in the process (late spring or summer). When you do write, I do want you to have at least a draft statement of purpose that I can read and think about (i.e., your statement can be a crappy first draft but at least it'll form the start of a conversation). I have trouble responding to applicants who give a one or two-line version of their proposal and ask if I'm "interested" — I might be, but I also get dozens of these types of short emails and so I need more from you than a few sentences to really respond to. If you got a link to this page with a terse response from me, that's why. Also, if you're emailing me well into the Fall semester when the December deadline is looming, there's not much I can really say other than that I look forward to reading your application.

Entering a doctoral program in anthropology is a tremendous commitment of time and energy on your part and on the part of the university and your graduate advisors. You should spend as much time as possible before you apply to programs both articulating why you want to enter a doctoral program as well as trying to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the various programs that you want to apply to. At UC Berkeley (as well as at most other institutions), incoming students are selected by a committee of the faculty as a whole. Thus, successful candidates should frame themselves in ways that appeals to at least three different faculty as a general rule. The days when a single professor chose their individual students is long gone, thankfully.

I've written some blog entries about graduate programs in
Japan Anthropology and doctoral/MA programs in Visual Anthropology and Deaf Studies/Disability Studies. And finally, some of the most useful advice I've found on the admissions process for grad students has been on - for example this post on the steps you need to follow when applying to grad schools, finding an advisor, and writing your statement of purpose is simply superb:

Please for the love of all that is good in this world, if you get one take-away from TheGradCafe post above, it's that you SHOULD NOT structure your statement of purpose as a historical narrative. Please don't start it with talking about your childhood. Please center the prospective research that you want to do and the intellectual apparatus that you structuring it around. Treat it almost as if it's a grant proposal. Put the majority of your biographical material into your personal statement / diversity statement.
The number one reason I sadly downvote grad applications is I can't figure out what you want to study in grad school (your "project") and why the anthro program at Cal is the best place to do so….


At UC Berkeley, we have more slots than students we can fund. Therefore, students who come in with a national fellowship such as an NSF-GRFP or Mellon-Mays/Woodrow Wilson have at an advantage in admissions. Our funding for international students is very constrained so coming with your own funding such as CONACYT (Mexico), CONICET (Argentina), KFAS (Korea), JSPS (Japan), or so forth will give you an advantage. This isn't to say that you should give up on applying to Berkeley if you are an international student or don't have an external fellowship. It gives you an advantage, that is all, and should be pursued as with all other things that will give you an advantage.

The one thing that shouldn't be pursued too relentlessly is a high GRE score. The university and the department realize that for anthropologists, GRE scores are not predictive of performance in graduate school and beyond. Berkeley Anthropology and Medical Anthropology don't require GREs. Send them in if they're stellar, but otherwise don't feel obliged to do so. For TOEFL, you need to hit the university grad division minimum but after that, don't spend extra energy trying to bump up the score.

Anthropology and Medical Anthropology at Berkeley

UC Berkeley has two separate PhD programs that I am part of. The first is the
PhD in Anthropology, which includes socio-cultural anthropology. The second is the Joint UC Berkeley UCSF Medical Anthropology Program. These are two separate programs with separate admissions processes (you cannot apply to both socio-cultural and med anthro at the same time; and you cannot apply to UC Berkeley Med Anthro at the same time you apply to UCSF Med Anthro) and separate funding, with the med anthro program being much smaller than socio-cultural and more competitive in admissions. That being said, the med anthro faculty also serve in socio-cultural anthro and students in both streams can take classes in the other stream. We can talk about which program is better for you once you have a sense of what your project might be.


Disability Studies at Berkeley

There is no doctoral or master's program in Disability Studies at UC Berkeley nor do we have a certificate program or designated emphasis (yet).

Graduate students who are interested in Disability Studies at Berkeley enter through one of the departments or programs that have proven to be supportive of DS. This includes but is not limited to Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, English, TDPS, Art Practice, Geography, and so forth. I am part of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society which provides intellectual support for the Disability Studies Research Cluster.

Queer Studies at Berkeley

There is no doctoral or master's program in Queer Studies at UC Berkeley. This was somewhat puzzling to me when I arrived and still puzzles me now. So just as with Disability Studies, if you're interested in Queer Studies, you'll enter through a traditional discipline (Af-Am Studies, History, Anthro, Geography), and get a
Designated Emphasis in Gender and Women's Studies.

Teaching Philosophy

A short piece on my philosophy of teaching and mentoring. Also see the "careers" section of my blog.

Other things you should know about me before meeting or working with me

1. I use a service dog, a small beagle. If you are afraid or allergic of dogs, we can arrange to have you sit so that you are not in close proximity to him. We can also meet via teleconference.
2. I am scent sensitive and they can give me intense migraines, so please try to avoid wearing perfumes or scents (including hair conditioner, laundry softener, and essential oils) if you can. If you can't avoid such products, let me know ahead of time so we can again arrange seating so that we can speak at a comfortable distance or perhaps change meeting locations to a better ventilated area. We can also meet via teleconference.
3. I also have a degree of facial blindness and please don't be offended if I don't recognize you, especially if it's out of context. Despite being a Disability Studies scholar, I'm embarrassed about this and often try to fake it, so if you sense that, reminding me subtly of who you are would be much appreciated.

Informed Consent

#InformedConsent: Grad school is not for everyone. Don't apply or go to grad school just because everyone told you that you should because you're smart. And don't go because you don't have other choices. A grad career takes much too long (doctoral programs are 5-8 years) and pays much too little for an uncertain future where full-time tenure track positions are shrinking in number. Furthermore, the bay area has an extremely high cost of living. Think carefully about why you want to apply, where you should apply to, and how you'll pay for it. Never go into debt for graduate studies.

Resources for Disabled Students and Scholars