Archaeology Graduate Programs by Degree Level

Archeologists are professionals who help uncover and preserve the histories of ancient people and their cultures by analyzing remains, buildings and relics discovered in a particular area. Those interested in joining this field must have either a master's degree or doctorate degree to be qualified to participate in such delicate work.

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. Many programs also expect students to fulfill a foreign language requirement since this field of work occurs across the globe. Graduates of these degree programs may find work at universities or museums in addition to research.

  • Program Levels in Archeology: Master's degree, Doctorate degree
  • Prerequisites: Master's programs require a bachelor's degree in a related field such as history. Doctorate degree programs expect a bachelor's degree or master's degree in archeology or a related field, as well as a 3.0 GPA in previous coursework.
  • Program Specializations: Prehistoric archeology, or a specific culture or era such as Greco-Roman archeology

Master of Science or Master of Arts in Archaeology

Master's programs in archaeology provide students an education in a chosen specialization area. 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. Common coursework includes:

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

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. 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. Course topics may include:

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

On the other hand, graduates of a Ph.D. in Archaeology can 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

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), anthropologists and archeologists are expected to see faster-than-average job growth of 19% from 2012 to 2022. However, due to the small size of the profession, the BLS stated that the number of new jobs created would still be minimal during that time period. In May 2014 the BLS also reported that anthropologists and archeologists receive a median annual salary of $59,280.

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