Schools with Nautical Archaeology Programs: How to Choose

In this highly specialized field, students typically study archaeology or anthropology as an undergraduate foundational subject and then enter a nautical archaeology specialization during graduate school. Programs are available at select universities throughout the country.

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Nautical archaeology is the study of human artifacts in the harsh sea environment. Some schools offer undergraduate courses that relate to nautical archaeology, such as underwater archaeological field techniques and historical underwater archaeology, while at the graduate level, students can choose a specialization in nautical archaeology, sometimes called underwater or maritime archaeology.

Schools with Nautical Archaeology Programs

The following 4-year universities offer degree programs in or related to the field:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016, In-state)*
East Carolina University Greenville, NC 4-year, Public Master's $4,434 (Graduate)
Indiana University Bloomington, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,388 (Undergraduate)
University of West Florida Pensacola, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $6,360 (Undergraduate), $7,088 (Graduate)
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4-year, Public Master's, Doctorate $5,598 (Graduate)
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 4-year, Public Bachelor's (minor) $13,366 (Undergraduate)
University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI 4-year, Public Bachelor's (minor) $12,862 (Undergraduate)

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when choosing a nautical archaeology school:

  • Students should consider schools that offer courses or specializations in their area of interest, as well as checking if a school offers underwater research programs or allows you to design your own research program.
  • Seek schools that offer on-campus SCUBA certification programs, since SCUBA diving may be required for underwater research.
  • Explore programs that include study-abroad opportunities, which may allow students to visit archaeological sites and learn about the discovery and preservation of underseas artifacts from various cultures.
  • Find schools with archaeologically focused student organizations, which promote teamwork and sometimes include archaeological field trips.

Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology

Undergraduate archaeology students pursuing a bachelor's degree in anthropology may be able to tailor their studies with a minor in underwater archaeology or take elective courses in underwater archeological field techniques, provided the school has these opportunities. For students who wish to build a broad foundation in the underwater environment, some schools offer maritime studies majors with related classes, such as oceanography and maritime history.

Master of Arts in Nautical Archaeology

Graduate students can pursue a Master of Arts in Nautical Archaeology or a Master of Arts in Archaeology with an underwater specialization. Since only a small number of schools offer a master's degree in nautical archaeology, competition at the graduate level is keen. Students pursuing a master's degree are required to complete terrestrial and underwater research and a thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nautical Archaeology

Ph.D. programs in nautical archaeology can be found in marine sciences and anthropology programs. Ph.D. students are required to take advanced coursework in conserving organic material and archaeological finds. They also gain field experience by participating in long-term undersea excavation and research projects. Students can apply to Ph.D. programs without first having earned a master's degree, but they may be required to fulfill higher amounts of course hours.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in nautical archaeology are available at a few 4-year institutions. Students should consider factors like SCUBA certification, study-abroad opportunities and program specializations when searching for the right school to attend.

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