Archaeology Graduate Programs by Degree Level

Read about graduate degree programs in archaeology. Learn about program prerequisites, courses offered and some interesting career choices, including field researcher.

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Essential Information

Individuals pursuing graduate-level degree programs in archaeology are engaged in interdisciplinary studies that combine culture, science, art and history, along with extensive hands-on field work. Archaeology at the master's or doctoral level typically involves a chosen area of interest, whether it's a particular culture or time period. Graduates of a master's or doctoral degree program may find work at universities or museums.


Master of Science or Master of Arts in Archaeology

Master's programs in archaeology provide students an education in a chosen specialization area. These specializations can range from prehistoric archaeology to a more specific culture or era, such as Greco-Roman archaeology. In addition to topics in cultures, students study science, language, history, geography and arts. Graduate programs in archaeology require students to complete a thesis project in their concentrated area, as well as partake in a residency or on-site archaeological project. A master's degree in archaeology can lead to the pursuit of the Ph.D. level.

Educational Prerequisites

Master's programs in archaeology recommend that students have a bachelor's degree in a similar field of study, such as history or archaeology, or have completed considerable coursework or acquired significant experience. Prospective students without educational training in archaeology or a related field may be considered for a master's degree program in archaeology, but might be required to complete supplemental coursework. Most master's programs require GRE scores, and applicants must specify the area of concentration they intend to study.

Program Coursework

Coursework in an archaeology master's program blends liberal arts and science courses. Students might also expect to take part in an onsite field research project in addition to classes such as these:

  • Analysis of archeological materials
  • Theory in archaeology
  • Site field methods
  • Paleopathology and human biology
  • Historical archaeology of ancient people
  • Laws and ethics in archaeology

Career Information

Individuals completing a master's degree in archaeology may hold positions in museums or on dig or field research sites. Surprisingly, archaeologists are oftentimes found on construction sites to assist in preserving historical or found artifacts. Below are a few career titles that an individual with a master's degree in archaeology may hold:

  • Cultural resources manager
  • Historic preservation officer
  • Research archaeologist

Ph.D. in Anthropology with a Concentration in Archaeology

In the U.S., Ph.D. in Archaeology programs are fairly uncommon, although students can pursue a Ph.D. in Anthropology with a concentration in archaeology. Students in such Ph.D. programs can choose a specific topic of study within archaeology, such as an era, culture or geographic area. All Ph.D. programs require individuals to have a reading proficiency in a second language, which can be pursued during their coursework, and to complete a dissertation project in their field of study.

Educational Prerequisites

Students interested in entering into a Ph.D. program in archaeology should hold a B.A. or an M.A. in archaeology or a related field, such as anthropology. Students who have not completed coursework in this field are typically required to fulfill additional course requirements upon entry into the Ph.D. program. Ph.D. programs require applicants to submit GRE scores and commonly require a 3.0 grade point average.

Program Coursework

Most work in a Ph.D. program will focus on a dissertation project, although courses in the liberal arts and sciences are required. These subjects are typically covered:

  • Complex societies
  • Geographical information systems
  • Settlement patterns
  • Designing grants and research
  • Contemporary theories in archaeology

Career Information

Completion of a Ph.D. in Archaeology gives individuals the opportunity to pursue upper-level roles in areas such as academia and the arts. It's common to find on-site field directors also holding full-time professor positions. Possible professional titles in this field include:

  • University faculty professor
  • Museum curator
  • Senior field director
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