How Do I Choose the Best Archaeology Program?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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You can choose the best archaeology program based on the specific type of archeology you want to study, the scope of the course offerings, and the possible opportunities for archaeology jobs and internships that could be open to you after completing your initial archaeology undergraduate work. A renowned archaeology program is often one with faculty who have plenty of field experience as historians or archaeologists. Many comprehensive archaeology degree programs give students solid foundations in cultural studies, various topics in anthropology, and accepted practices for excavating various historical artifacts.

Different colleges often have varied focuses in their archaeology degree programs based on faculty backgrounds, school location, and sometimes on student interests. An archaeology program in a coastal region may have more emphasis on topics in underwater archaeology along with the historical anthropology of the local area. Other schools may have opportunities for archaeological studies of specific historical cultures such as ancient Rome or medieval Europe. The best type of archaeology program for you should ideally be one with course topics that capture your passion and interest because you will usually spend at least four years studying them in depth.


The certain type of degree awarded is another deciding factor about which kind of archaeology program is best for you. Many community or vocational colleges offer two-year archaeology degrees that will give you a good foundation for transferring into a four-year undergraduate archaeology program. A two-year degree may only qualify you for limited job opportunities in this field, so further study is normally required if you want to move into many positions in museums or excavation sites. Programs that grant advanced graduate degrees in your specific archaeology concentration will normally qualify you for jobs with the most responsibility and the most rewards. A graduate degree is usually a prerequisite for teaching college-level archaeology as well.

Fieldwork is a feature of many good archaeology programs because it gives students comprehensive hands-on experience in locating, excavating, and preserving delicate artifacts at different dig sites. Undergraduates who complete archaeology degrees with this type of practical coursework are often more likely to be hired for many jobs or internships soon after college graduation. A high-quality archaeology degree program generally has a good balance of classroom learning, field experience, and laboratory sessions for learning how to analyze recovered artifacts. You may also need to submit a final project or researched thesis as a graduation requirement from one of these programs.


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Many archaeologists, much like historians and anthropologists, teach at the university level. This requires at least a master's degree, although many professors have or are working toward a doctorate in their fields.

Major universities are a good conduit for project funding, and undergraduate and graduate students are available and eager to help higher level professors with research and field work.

In addition, tenure track professors are required to publish the findings of their work on a regular basis, which can help further an archaeologist's career.

Unless the archaeologist is able to secure a private source of funding for a specific project, a university teaching position is probably the best way to get funding and gain recognition in the field.

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