The major purpose of the IDPAS is to operate a graduate training program leading to the Ph.D. degree, with an emphasis upon training the student to be a first-rate researcher and teacher at a research university. Most IDPAS students have gone on to postdoctoral or tenure-track positions at major universities.
Training of students emphasizes the theoretical constructs that govern research and the methods of research in the various fields of anthropological endeavor. This training is accomplished through coursework combined with research. The IDPAS fosters training in research by helping students gain research experience through participation in faculty projects, and then assisting students in the formulation of new cutting-edge research of their own design.