PhD Year One

I recently finished my first year of my PhD program in anthropology at Binghamton University. Now, I am course complete and working on bibliographies for my qualifying exams. This post is a look back over this year.


This year I have taken six courses, three each semester.


Between August 26 and May 14, I went to 109 class sessions for a total of 276 hours in class.



In 262 days I completed 160 reading assignments: 129 articles and 31 books. (Not including reading for research.)


That is 12,380 pages total.



Approximately 47.25 pages per day.


Approximately 2,063 pages of assigned reading per course.



In 262 days I wrote 29 graded papers. That is total of 197 manuscript formatted pages or 52,830 words turned in.


However, grad school writing is never just the words and pages you turn in. Including discarded drafts, conference papers, and other academic writing, I wrote a total of 337 pages or 84,611 words.


That means I wrote approximately 12 pages or 2,918 words per week while classes were in session.


I wrote approximately 51 pages or 12,862 words per course.


Year One Word Cloud
My top words were:

  1. Ontology (119)
  2. Human (70)
  3. Social (66)
  4. Theory (64)
  5. Compute (58)
  6. Thing (57)
  7. Material (53)
  8. Practice (52)
  9. System (52)
  10. Use (50)
  11. Technology (49)
  12. Anthropology (46)
  13. Experience (43)
  14. Science (42)
  15. Epistemology (41)


Other Pursuits

I presented at two conferences (AAA13 & TtW14).


I worked 748 hours as a web developer.


Final GPA: 4.0


And, who knows how many coffees and lost hours of sleep there were.



At times I felt like I wasn’t going to make it. This year has been the most difficult and challenging bit of my career to date. However, now that it is over I am glad that I did it. I have learned a lot, made some great friends, and feel like I have accomplished something. More importantly, I started this program because I knew I had research questions I wanted to explore. Questions that needed more time, dedication and knowledge to answer than I was able to give on my own. This year has prepared me to ask those questions and begin exploring the answers.

In other words…

I Regret Nothing!

I regret nothing.


More than a few people have commented on my program’s requirements. Binghamton University’s anthropology department requires more than one year of courses for a PhD. However, unlike many students, I started the program with a completed BS and MA in anthropology, three years experience as an anthropology adjunct, and six years of applied anthropological web development experience. Thus, I was able to reduce my course requirements (those required to earn an MA on the way to a PhD) and have a fairly well established dissertation project from day one.

Also, I am lucky to be gainfully employed while pursuing my PhD and, thus, I did not apply for departmental funding. This means that I do not have to maintain a full-time course load as a condition of accepting departmental funding. So, I took all of my required class in one year. That way I can focus on preparing for qualifying exams and my dissertation requirements without needing to worry about taking classes too.

If you came to this page because you are considering a PhD, keep this in mind. My road through academia is mostly atypical. If you have just finished your bachelor’s degree, you should expect to take more years of coursework and have to fulfill additional requirements for the MA. Most programs have their requirements listed on their website. That said, this infographic is, in my experience, a good representation of what a year of graduate school course work looks like in anthropology.


  • Joe Schmoe says:

    Get over yourself.

    • Jane Schmoe says:

      Somebody be trollin’…

      IMHO If it were me I would throw myself a party with a parade after all that work. LOL Fuck being bashful. OP deserves a celebration.

  • Wayne says:

    Wow, this is great. I wonder what the metrics of my own anthropology degree are.

  • A says:

    *fist pump* PhDs are not for the faint of heart! Rock on!

  • I am really thrilled to go through your PhD Year One progress. I wish you all the very best for your remaining years of PhD and with great success and many more achievements.

  • Joe Lascano says:

    Get over yourself. Many of us put ourselves through grad school by waiting tables or working in a career.

  • Stevovo says:

    Don’t worry about the Joes who say get over yourself. This is good to think with–the definition of excellent theoretical and methodological tools. In the middle of my dissertation research I was feeling down, thinking I was doing a bad job because of some comments people had given me, and one research participant said, “there will always be critics.”

  • jessica stanco says:

    Congrats on continued success…our daughter is getting ready to do the same thing…anthropology…i tagged her in this post…she loves it too..

  • Chrissy Sepulveda says:

    Let those people who say “get over yourself” try and complete a PhD program! I’m working on mine now and am also teaching classes. There are a lot of sacrifices to be made in order to complete the degree, especially while you are also working. Cheers to you and best of luck!

  • Richard Nicolas says:

    Seminars in anthropology MA programs requires 30 pages per week not including the other class requirement. With your program assessment, I found a new respect for my university grad program coz they are harder but with very supportive professors, it’s doable. You are still doing an awesome job. Good luck.

  • Joshua Benedict says:

    In my undergraduate anthropology curriculum I am required to write 45 pages for social science related coursework. This does not count work from other, required courses. Reading the above about MA and PhD work gives me a newfound appreciation for my program. Congratulations to all of you on the work you participate in.

  • Joshua Benedict says:

    Edit, 45 pages per week.

  • OneUp Will says:

    My undergrad program at Liarbear University in Exaggeration Town required 127 pages per day. People have no idea the level of demand a PhD requires. Any dolt can burp out words onto paper, but are the messages behind the words significant? Are they backed by countless hours of reading, contemplation, and synthesis? I say well done! Go for the gold! We all have to root for each other to make it through this insane process. From Western Washington to Binghamton, best of luck to all!

  • Jonathan says:

    None of this sounds far-fetched or impossible to attain. During my senior year at UCSD as a psychology student I read AT LEAST 50-70 pages a day. One quarter required I read four books and 30 articles.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Well done. Was really impressed by the numbers. Cool infographic!

  • Angela Glaros says:

    Sorry that folks are using the comment box to diss your assessment of your progress. The turd who claimed you weren’t also working another job must not have noticed the hours you put in as a web developer too.

    But that aside, such comments demonstrate the anti-intellectualism so rampant in our nation. Somehow, many people don’t see attending classes, reading, and writing (with all the *thinking* that accompanies them) as work. And it is, especially at the graduate level. I think your program pushed you to quals way too fast with too few courses (mine required 3-4 years of coursework at 6 courses a year). But did you work? Most definitely. Good luck with the next stage, and I look forward to an infographic for quals!

    • My program usually requires several more years of coursework. However, I entered the program with a completed MA in anthropology and six years of applied-anthro-development work, 3 years of adjuncting experience, and a fairly well established dissertation project. So, I started way ahead of the other first years, most of which finished their BA just months before starting the program. 😉

  • Astrid says:

    I really loved the graphics that you did to represent all your information. I would love to know how you learned to do that, cause I would like to do the same. I think that the way that you visualized the information made it so easy to follow and understand, and I would like to apply that to other data sets that I have.

  • colt horton says:

    Very cool! My favorite part of this whole info graph was the “I Regret Nothing!” I am currently in cultural Anthropology and it is a very compelling course and it has become one of my favorite subjects (haven’t had my first exam yet i guess i see how much i like it then)

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