Archaeology Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Depending on the degree-level and specialization, an archaeology degree program can prepare a student to become a museum curator, preservation specialist, laboratory technician or researcher. Programs vary in the specializations, fieldwork and laboratory experiences they offer. Continue reading to learn more about how to choose an archaeology school and the available degree programs.

How to Choose an Archaeology Program

Students can find archaeology programs at 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Education and career goals
  • Practical experience opportunities
  • Course offerings

Education and Career Goals

Archaeology programs are offered at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree levels and are often housed within anthropology departments. A student's education level and career aspirations dictate which program is most appropriate for him or her to attend. However, regardless of degree-level, students may want to consider attending a program that includes fieldwork, laboratory training and classroom-based learning to ensure that they receive exposure to all three aspects of the field.

Practical Experience Opportunities

Most entry-level archaeology positions require a bachelor's degree as well as field and lab experience. Students may wish to choose a school that operates an archaeology dig site to gain field experience and one that offers state-of-the art laboratory equipment to study excavated artifacts. Having field and lab experience may be helpful for finding an entry-level position after graduation.

Graduate students should also investigate whether a program offers coursework and field experiences in the specialty of their interest. This will ensure that they receive training and are prepared for employment in their specialization after graduation from the program.

Course Offerings

Bachelor's degree students without a specifically defined area of interest may want to choose a program that allows them to take courses in several different areas, such as ancient civilizations, art history or Eastern history. This type of program will provide a broad introduction into the different types of archaeology, and possibly help students identify their specific area of interest. It may also provide students with a broad base of skills that will appeal to employers seeking to fill entry-level positions.

Archaeology Program Overviews

Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology

Generally, an archaeology bachelor's degree program prepares students to work in a lab or to complete a graduate-level program in the field. Students in these programs usually must complete coursework in:

  • Ancient civilizations
  • Foreign languages
  • Anthropological archaeology

Most programs also include fieldwork and laboratory components. A research project may be optional.

Master of Arts in Archaeology

Archaeology master's degree programs typically allow students to specialize in a specific archaeological field. Available concentrations may include African prehistoric archaeology, old world archaeology or new world historical archaeology. Most programs include comprehensive exams and require students write a thesis or complete a master's project. Graduates of these programs may be prepared for careers in museum curation or historic preservation. Courses found in a master's degree program might include:

  • Politics and archaeology
  • Biblical archaeology
  • Greek archaeology
  • Zooarchaeology

Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology

Doctoral programs in archaeology train students to become researchers, educators or museum curators. Students in these programs complete courses, fieldwork and laboratory work in their specialties, and receive additional training in quantitative methods, biology and physical science. Students must pass qualifying exams and complete a dissertation. These programs take 4-6 years to complete. Coursework might include:

  • Archaeological theory
  • Research methods in archaeology
  • Ancient urbanism

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