Prior to admission to doctoral candidacy (i.e., before beginning field research), all PhD students in Social Anthropology must meet the Departmental requirement of demonstrating competence in a language other than English. The requirement can be met by taking a university administered placement exam (placing into the third year or above), by completing with a grade of B+ or better the fourth semester of a language sequence at Harvard, or by ad hoc arrangement in consultation with the primary student's advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. There are no exemptions to or substitutions (e.g., a programming language or other specialized skill) for this general requirement.
Social Anthropology PhD candidates are also required to demonstrate competence in the language they will need to speak in the field. When it is impossible to learn a field language at Harvard, the candidate must make the arrangements necessary to do so elsewhere. The field language requirement is fulfilled when approved by the student's advisor. In special circumstances, candidates may fulfill this requirement by taking a course in anthropological linguistics, or another appropriate field. The student's primary advisor will identify the specific language requirements appropriate for the student's dissertation research.
During the first year, students must submit a plan to the Graduate Program Office indicating how they expect to fulfill the language requirements. In all cases, students are strongly encouraged to demonstrate competence in at least two languages other than their native language.