Archeology Graduate Programs

The field of archeology is highly competitive, but there are a number of graduate programs available that award either a master's or doctoral degree. Discover the admissions requirements and coursework for this program focused on the human past.

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Archeology is a popular field that involves the study of cultures from the distant and recent past. Graduate-level programs in this field can be found in universities across the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job openings for archeologists are highly competitive due to the relatively small number of jobs available. The BLS also notes that a graduate degree - especially a Ph.D. - and substantial research and fieldwork experience can help a candidate stand out.

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Graduate Programs in Archeology

The archeology programs available at various schools can result in either a master's or doctorate degree. When studying in archeology, you can choose a concentration to focus on, such as Classical or Near Eastern archeology. Students completing a master's program may be able to finish their coursework in approximately 2 years, while a doctoral program may take up to 6 years to finish. Some of the common course requirements for archeology graduate programs are covered below.

Master's Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation

Commonly, graduate programs afford students the chance to take course hours that allow them to focus on completing their thesis or dissertation, depending on the degree track they're on. Students will select a topic for their thesis or dissertation based on their unique research interests in archeology. Those completing a master's thesis may have to also complete an oral exam with their professors. Doctoral students will need to not only complete their dissertation but also defend it before their doctoral committee.

Core Seminar

Core seminars are focused around communicated core information needed to work professionally in the field of archeology, especially archeological theories. Professors typically choose a number of major works that students are required to read throughout the course. By the course's end, students should better understand how various archaeological techniques are applied and how archaeologists interpret the information before them.

Research Design

This course is designed to help students understand how archaeologists prepare to complete projects, and research design courses typically require students to complete a paper on a topic of their choosing. The construction of a rigorous research design is required and becomes the core of the student's future paper. Students are expected to work closely with faculty in the development of their paper and may have to make oral presentations on their progress.


Part of a student's coursework in archeology may include learning more about the impact of European colonies around the world. Some courses may focus on one particular region, like the Americas or the South Pacific Islands. Studies in this area require that students research how colonialism impacted cultures of the time and how that impact continues to resonate today. This course also illustrates how colonialism continues in the modern era.


Identification course are designed to help students distinguish between different materials they might find during their fieldwork. On an archaeological site, for example, students may find materials such as metals and ceramics. This course helps students to not only distinguish between the two but also to properly categorize them for future study.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions into a graduate program can vary from one university to another, but you will often need to meet the following requirements. Applicants must have already completed their bachelor's program from an accredited university. Schools may ask that your bachelor's program have focused in an area such as the humanities or social sciences. Students will also be asked to submit their GRE scores in many cases, and universities always request a student's transcripts. Schools don't often publish their minimum standards for GRE scores, but denial of admission often occurs because of low GPA or GRE scores.

Aspiring archeologists can earn a master's degree or Ph.D. in the discipline from numerous schools. A relevant bachelor's degree and GRE scores are typically required for admission, and the coursework in these programs covers archeological theories, fieldwork techniques and human cultures, culminating in a thesis or dissertation.

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