10 Best Archaeology Graduate Programs In 2022

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. If you want to obtain a graduate degree in archaeology, then you should seek the best archaeology graduate programs and other relevant information – schools, requirement, and cost.

The archaeology field uncovers artifacts and materials that say a lot about the human species and the societies we build. Studying these artifacts and materials deepens human understanding of our historical and cultural differences, including our similarities. 

The following 10 Best archaeology programs are world scholarship forum’s top picks for a rich archaeological, historical, and cultural education.

Many of the programs listed offer adventurous (maybe not as much as Indiana Jones ), exciting, global, real-world field study opportunities, including opportunities to research and analyze archaeological findings. In addition to educating us about people of the past, ancient histories are known to teach us lessons about our present and future. 

 What Is Archaeology?

Archaeology, also spelled archeology, the scientific study of the material remains of past human life and activities. These include human relics from the oldest stone tools to the man-made objects that are buried or thrown away in the present day.

These include everything made by human beings—from simple tools to complex machines, from the earliest houses and temples and tombs to palaces, cathedrals, and pyramids. Archaeological inquiries are a principal source of knowledge of early, ancient, and extinct values. The word comes from the Greek archaia (“ancient things”) and logos (“theory” or “science”).

The archaeologist a descriptive worker. He has to describe, classify, and analyze the artifacts he studies. An adequate and objective taxonomy is the basis of all archaeology, and many good archaeologists spend their lives in this activity of description and classification.

But the core purpose of the archaeologist is to place the material remains in historical contexts, to supplement what may be known from written sources, thus, increasing the understanding of the past. Ultimately, then, the archaeologist is a historian – his aim is the informative description of the past of man.

There are many branches of archaeology divided by geographical areas such as:

  • Classical archaeology, the archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome;
  •  Egyptology, the archaeology of ancient Egypt)
  • By periods (such as medieval archaeology and industrial archaeology).
  • The aspect of archaeology that deals with the past of man before he learned to write has, since the middle of the 19th century, been referred to as prehistoric archaeology, or prehistory.

What Are The Graduate Programs In Archaeology?

Although earning an undergraduate degree in archaeology can open up various doors in terms of career options, the subsequent completion of a graduate program significantly improves employment prospects.

Masters Degree in Archaeology

A Masters Degree in Archaeology can serve as ideal preparation for a Ph.D. in the subject. It allows people who have studied other subjects at the undergraduate level to study archaeology at the postgraduate level and can contribute to entry into some archaeology and heritage-based jobs.

Also, it is helpful for those stirring into several other vocations where project management, literacy, and research skills are important qualities.

Areas of Specialization

A Masters in Archaeology is mostly made up of two core modules, six optional modules, and the completion of either a written dissertation or a field-based work placement. However, different universities may structure their precise archaeology course somewhat differently. The core modules and optional modules available may vary extremely.

Most students studying archaeology at the masters level will graduate with a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master by Research (MRes). However, some archaeology masters, like forensic archaeology degrees, will instead result in the graduate becoming a Master of Science (MSc).

In addition to more general archaeology masters degrees, several more specialist masters degrees can be found, including:

Medieval Archaeology – Focuses on antiquities, buildings, and material culture from the medieval time.

Maritime Archaeology – The study of underwater archaeology, such as shipwrecks and submerged settlements.

Anthropological Archaeology – the study of past human life through uncovering material evidence.

Landscape Archaeology – Deals with the historical interaction between humans and their environment.

Forensic Archaeology – Contains elements of both the study of archaeology and the study of forensics.

 PhD In Archaeology

This program of study looks at the recovery, interpretation, and analysis of material remains from history. Students may learn more about scientific techniques as they complete the degree.

This type of study is valuable because it gives students the skills and confidence needed to succeed in the professional world of archeology. Most students use a Ph.D. in Archaeology to enter the academic or research worlds.

Graduates may get an increase in salary or access to new job opportunities upon completion.

What Are The Requirements For Completing A Graduate Program In Archaeology?

You will typically be expected to have a good bachelor’s degree (at least a 2:1 or equivalent). Some universities may accept graduates from any subject, while others will require that your bachelor’s degree should be in a subject related to the field of archaeology in which you mean to specialize.

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, master’s 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 participate in a residency or on-site archaeological project. Common coursework includes:

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

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Ph.D. In Anthropology With A Concentration In Archaeology

In the U.S., Ph.D. in Archaeology programs are slightly uncommon, although students can pursue a Ph.D. in Anthropology with a concentration in archaeology. These degree programs expect students to hold a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in archaeology or a related field, as well as a 3.0 GPA in previous coursework.

In addition, all Ph.D. programs require individuals to have 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

What Are The Benefits Of Completing A Graduate Program In Archaeology?

In the highly competitive global marketplace, a graduate degree sets you apart from other job candidates.
With a graduate degree, you’ll be eligible for more jobs. The number of occupations that typically require a graduate degree will increase by nearly 20% between 2006 and 2016.

In many career sectors, such as higher education administration, public affairs, and social services, a graduate degree is replacing a bachelor’s as the minimum requirement for employment.

While holding a graduate degree is not a guarantee of ultimate success, it certainly opens many more doors for employment

A graduate degree helps give you job security. Data from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau show that the unemployment rate for holders of a graduate degree is 3.5% compared with 4.5% for those with only bachelor’s degrees, while unemployment rates among those with doctorates (2.5%) and advanced professional degrees (2.1%) are approximately half that of those with only a bachelor’s degree.

For graduate degree holders, the numbers are favorable. U.S. workers between the ages of 21 and 64 with a master’s degree or higher earn an average annual salary of $55,242, versus those with a bachelor’s degree whose average annual salary is $42,877, according to the United States Census Bureau.

This represents nearly a 30 percent difference in average annual salary—and offers clear evidence that completing a graduate degree can make a positive impact on one’s financial situation.

Graduate degree programs combine discipline-specific, advanced coursework with skills like critical thinking, analytic ability, and time management that are easily transferred if your career path changes.

What Are The Career Opportunities After Completing A Graduates Program In Archaeology?

After completing a graduate program in archaeology, graduates will have developed or enhanced their research, literacy, project management, teamwork, and analytical skills, making them perfect candidates for many jobs where those attributes are desired.

For careers related directly to the course, archaeology masters graduates should be sufficiently equipped to go into the museum and national heritage-based vocations and some lower-end archaeology jobs.

Furthermore, the course serves as ideal preparation for further studies, such as an archaeology Ph.D., which can lead to careers at the top end of the archaeology industry. A master’s degree can also function as a good building point for careers in lecturing or teaching.

Individuals completing a master’s degree in archaeology may hold positions in museums or on dig or field research sites. Surprisingly, archaeologists are frequently 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

How Much Will I Earn With A Graduate Degree In Archaeology?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), anthropologists and archaeologists are expected to see job growth of 10% from 2018 to 2028. In May 2019, the BLS reported that anthropologists and archaeologists receive a median annual salary of $63,670.

Graduate students pursuing archaeology can consider master’s programs in the field as well as doctoral programs in anthropology offering an archaeology concentration. These programs can lead to careers in research, teaching, cultural resources, and more.

What Are The Best Archaeology Graduate Programs?

  • University of Oxford
  • The University of Cambridge
  • University College London (UCL)
  • Harvard University
  • Durham University
  • Leland Stanford Junior University
  • Leiden University
  • The Sapienza University of Rome
  • The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

#1. University of Oxford

M.Sc Archaeology

Cost

Home- £13,600

Overseas – £24,450

Acceptance Rate: 17.9%                                                  QS Archeology Ranking – #1

Oxford University is an Academic University in England, the United Kingdom. It is the 2nd oldest existing University in the world making it a dream destination for the archaeological program.  The public research university was founded as far back as 1096.

The master’s program in Archaeology provides an opportunity for students to build on their knowledge from undergraduate studies. It equips them to specialize in a particular area of archaeology, while also offering an excellent foundation for those wishing to continue towards research at the doctoral level.

Requirements

As a minimum, applicants should hold the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • A first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honors in archaeology or a relevant subject.
  • For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0. However, most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7 or above.
  • Professional experience in archaeology or related fields will also be considered if you are applying after some time out of higher education.
  • Relevant publications are not expected but may add to the strength of an application.
  • This course requires proficiency in English at the University’s higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement.

#2. University of Cambridge

MPhil in Archaeology 

Cost

£12,159                      

Acceptance Rate: 21%         QS Archeology Ranking – #2

The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 as a public research University. It has undergone a series of positive transformation to emerge as one of the best Universities in the world. The University has several artifacts making it a top destination to study archaeology and anthropology.

The MPhil in Archaeology allows students to gain a critical appreciation of archaeology, the human past, and its place in the modern world. It provides training in research, analytical skills, and expertise in a chosen, specialist area.

The emphasis at the MPhil level is on research-led teaching so that staff and students interact in lectures, seminars, language classes, and laboratory-based practicals. This aims at mastering the basics of theory and method, while also engaging students as participants in ongoing research projects.

Requirements

  • Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II. Honors Degree.
  • If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.
  • IELTS score of 7.5
  • TOEFL score of 110

#3. University College London (UCL)

Archaeology MA

Cost

UK: £12,500 (FT)

                £6,250 (PT)

 Overseeas: £25,800 (FT)

                  £12,900 (Pt)

Acceptance Rate: 63%                QS Archeology Ranking – #3

The University College London (UCL) is a research university equipped with modern teaching and research facilities. UCL currently ranks as one of the UK’s best Universities and one of the best archaeology schools for graduate programs.

The Archaeology MA is an intensive induction program on the current archaeological theory which equips students to research in their chosen field. The flexible program of study serves as an excellent expansion of undergraduate studies or as a self-designed foundation for further postgraduate and professional work.

Requirements

  • A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
  • If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will therefore be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

#4. Harvard University

Ph.D. Anthropology

Cost

Covered By School (Fully Funded/ Fellowship)

Acceptance rate: 6%                                            QS Archeology Ranking – #5

Harvard University is one of the most popular universities in the world and it has attained this feat through years of excellent academic programs. Harvard University is a choice study destination for students around the world making admission into the University extremely competitive.

 The graduate admissions committee aims to select very qualified applicants who represent a range of interests and backgrounds and who will form a reasonably well-balanced class unit.

An effort is made each year to ensure that the entering class represents a range of interests in the geographical and cultural regions of the world. However, there is no automatic allocation of slots in the program for specific areas.

Requirements

  • Admissions Form (submitted online)
  • Statement of Purpose (not to exceed 1000 words
  • A copy of your transcript from each college/university attended
  • Recent GRE General Test scores (GSAS Code for ETS: 3451). The GRE is optional for Fall 2022 admission.
  • Writing sample that should not exceed 20 pages (double-spaced), not including bibliography.
  • Three letters of recommendation (must be submitted via the link provided).
  • Recent TOEFL and/or IELTS scores

#5. Durham University

MA in Archaeology

Cost

EU Student – £22,790.00 per year

Home Student – £10,100.00 per year

Acceptance rate: 13%                                                                QS Archeology Ranking – #6

Durham University is a collegiate public research university in Durham North East, England. Founded in 1832, Durham University is consistently ranked among the top five universities in the UK and the top 100 institutions in the world.

The MA takes advantage of the exceptionally wide research interests of the staff in Durham Archaeology, which range from Neanderthal art and the Paleolithic of Western Europe to Buddhism in South Asia and trade in the Indian Ocean, and of course the archaeology of medieval and post-medieval Europe – where Durham has long held a special place.

Requirements

  • A degree in archaeology or a related subject entailing experience in historical, material culture, and/or visual culture. (e.g. Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Art History and Theory, History, Classics, Oriental Studies).
  • Although a wider range of backgrounds is acceptable, with 2.1 honors or higher for UK degrees, or international equivalent (please consult the department on international equivalents).
  • For mature students, relevant employment experience or other qualifications are taken into consideration. Prior knowledge of specialist areas is not mandatory, but an ability to prove previous interest or experience would be an advantage.
  • One satisfactory reference is required, a further may be requested

#6. University of California, Berkeley

 Ph.D. Classical Archaeology

Cost

Fully Funded

Acceptance rate: 14.8%                           QS Archeology Ranking – #4

UC Berkeley is one of the ten UC school system and a dream destination for international students seeking to study in world-leading Universities. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system.

The Graduate Program in Classical Archaeology aims to ensure that its students are fully competent in Greek and Latin and have a good understanding of historical method as well as a thorough training, including experience in fieldwork, in Greek and Roman archaeology.

The holder of a Ph.D. should be qualified either for a major museum post or for university teaching (up to the senior undergraduate level in the ancient languages and in ancient history, and at all levels from elementary to graduate in large areas of ancient archaeology and art history).

Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  • A bachelor’s degree or the recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  • A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale;
  • The Department of Anthropology requires all students to demonstrate proficiency in at least one language in addition to English.

#7. Columbia University

Ph.D. Art History and Archaeology

Cost

$24,512

Acceptance Rate – 5.9%                                    QS Archaeology Ranking – #8

This private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City established in 1754. It boasts of over 8,000 students studying courses under its diverse programs in its schools.

Students in the Ph.D. program earn the MA and MPhil degrees en route to the doctorate. After being awarded the MPhil degree, students of merit may be appointed as Teaching Fellows to teach in the undergraduate Core Curriculum, which involves a highly organized training program and unusual independence as teachers in a small seminar setting.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are an important aspect of doctoral students’ training. Thus, graduate fellowships include teaching and research apprenticeship.

Students who pass their MPhil examination and successfully defend their dissertation proposal in the third or fourth year of study are eligible for a Dissertation Fellowship and can begin research on the dissertation.

Requirements 

  • One transcript showing courses and grades per school attended
  • A statement of academic purpose
  • A writing sample (a course paper, term paper, etc.)
  • All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.
  • Generally, applicants are expected to have taken a minimum of four undergraduate courses in art history, archaeology, or other fields related to art history.
  • Reading knowledge of two or three foreign languages is recommended since the demonstration of proficiency in at least one language is required during the first year of study. 

#8. Leiden University

M.Sc. Archaeological Science

Cost

€2,143

Acceptance Rate: 50%                      QS Archaeology Ranking – #10

Leiden University is the oldest University in the Netherlands. Established as far back in 1575, the University is credited to have produced several successful graduates. The University is one of the ideal schools to learn in the field of archaeology.

Archaeological Science at Leiden University is an MSc specialization that delves into the specifics of archaeological methods and techniques. The combination of hands-on field experience and laboratory work offers a challenging and rewarding research environment.

A scientific methodology is an important approach in modern archaeology and it is at the heart of archaeological science. Hypotheses, data, theory, experiments, observations, as well as presentation and interpretation, are all key to our understanding of our past.

Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Certificates
  • Transcripts
  • Motivation letter
  • IELTS with a minimum score of 6.5 or TOEFL iBT with a minimum score of 90
  • Letter of recommendation

 #9. Sapienza University of Rome

Master’s Degree in Classical Archaeology

Cost

€2,456

Acceptance rate – 26%     QS Archaeology Ranking – #11

This is a collegiate university located in Rome, Italy. The Sapienza University of Rome has a high enrollment rate and it is one of the oldest universities in Europe. The University was founded in 1303 but came to be known as the Sapienza University only in the 1650s. It has some of the best graduate programs in archaeology.

The university runs courses in programs such as Bachelors and Masters Degrees, Professional Courses, Advanced Professional Courses, and Specialization Programs.

The Master’s Degree in Classical Archaeology represents a great innovation among Italian universities courses. The Master’s Degree in Classical Archaeology aims at providing thorough training in the field of Classical Archaeology.

Requirements

  • The enrolment to the Master’s Degree requires the completion of an undergraduate degree, obtained after a minimum of 3 years of study (180 ECTS).
  • Copy of the Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree (in English);
  • Declaration of value
  • Certificate of Secondary School

#10. University of California, Los Angeles

M.A Anthropology

Cost

$17,486 annually for California residents.

$32,588 annually for non-California residents.

Acceptance Rate: 17%      QS Archaeology Ranking – #9

The University of California is one of the world’s leading public research universities, located in beautiful La Jolla, California. They are one of the best archaeology schools in the world.

They also offer one of the best graduate programs in archaeology, one of them, a master’s program in anthropology.

 The objective of the M.A. degree in Anthropology is to prepare students for professional-level employment in industry and government, teaching positions in community colleges, or advanced study towards the Ph.D. degree. 

Requirements

  • A statement of purpose.
  • M.A.: The program leading to an M.A. in Archaeology is considered the first step toward the Ph.D.; the department does not admit applicants whose final degree objective is the master’s degree.
  • Applicants should submit a plan of study (including a statement of objectives, an outline of projected coursework, and a general indication of an M.A. paper); preparation in and/or plans for language study; and a research paper preferably relevant to archaeology or comparable evidence of scholarly work.
  • Applicants who have not completed a course in quantitative methods in archaeology may be advised to take a corresponding course at UCLA, if relevant to their research. This course does not count toward the minimum course requirements for the degree.
  • Transcripts, Statements, and Letters of Recommendation.

How Long Does It Take To Earn A Graduate Degree In Archaeology?

Usually, a master’s degree program in archaeology can be completed in two years. However, some programs can take 11 months while some take a longer period of time.

A Ph.D. however, takes as long as 6-9 years. This does not include the time it takes to obtain a master’s degree. Most Ph.D. programs require applicants to have completed their master’s degree.

Between the master’s degree and Ph.D., it takes a total of about 8-10 years to complete the graduate program in archaeology.

FAQs For A Graduate Degree In Archaeology

Do you need a masters to get a Ph.D. in archaeology?

Yes. You need a master’s degree if you intend to obtain a Ph.D.

How long does it take to earn a graduate degree in archaeology?

Generally it takes about 8 – 10 years to get both a master’s and a Ph.D. for the master’s degree, it takes 11months – 2 years and about 6-7 years for a Ph.D.

What are career options in archaeology?

Depending on your specialization and personal interest, you may be able to work in charities, finance, marketing, administration, environmental agencies, chartered surveying and education.
You can get jobs as: a higher education lecturer, social researcher, tourism officer, archivist, cartographer, records manager or even as a geographic information systems specialist.

Conclusion

Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains. If you are in search of good graduate programs in archaeology, this content has given the 10 best programs, their requirements, and the cost.

It also has answers to related questions, so, go through the programs and schools, make a choice, and begin a new chapter of your lives.

Goodluck!

References

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