Archaeology Degree

“Archaeology is the search for fact… not truth” – at least this was how Indiana Jones defined archaeology. The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) introduces archaeology as “… the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains.”
The field falls under the wider umbrella of anthropology and therefore many schools offer archaeology as a field of concentration within an anthropology major. The fictionalized image of the archaeologist’s aside, these professionals carry out real work, often in challenging environments, working long hours, including weekends and evenings. Travelling may also form a major part of their professional work.


Southern New Hampshire University

Kaplan University Online

  • B.S. in Liberal Studies

Norwich University

  • Master of Arts in Military History

What do Archaeologists do?

Archaeology is not all about excavation; there is a lot of preservation and protection that archaeologists provide to archeological sites. Dealing with the artifacts belonging to ancient and recent human societies, archaeologists recover, examine and preserve such evidence. The artifacts are typically in the form of the ruins of buildings, cave paintings, pottery, and tools. Archaeologists also analyze skeletal remains. These artifacts and remains help them learn about the living habits, customs, and history of ancient civilizations.
The protection and preservation aspect of an archaeologist’s job requires working at historical sites and national parks, educating the public and providing protection to the sites. Another lesser known fact about archaeologists is their role in enforcing federal regulations on site preservation. Archaeologists must also be aware of various laws regulating their profession.
Similar to other highly developed fields, archaeology also has its own specialized sub-fields such as:

  • Prehistoric archaeology
  • Historical archaeology
  • Biblical archaeology
  • Underwater archaeology
  • Cultural Resource Management archaeology (CRM)
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Industrial archaeology
  • Urban archaeology

If you are interested in pursuing a career in any of the above mentioned sub-fields of archaeology or archaeology in general, then continue reading.

Archaeology – A Career

The good news is that you do not need a license or any form of registration in order to become an archaeologist, but that is where it all ends. The field of archaeology has extensive education requirements. While a bachelor’s degree in the field will only get you started and qualify you for a limited number of entry level jobs, a master’s or PhD is what is generally preferred by professionals in the field.

Bachelors in Archaeology

It is rare for the subject of archeology to be taught at the undergraduate level as a stand-alone degree; it’s often taught as part of an anthropology major. There are however a select few schools that offer bachelor’s degree programs in archaeology. Starting at the undergraduate level, the degree aims to help students develop professional expertise in the field.
The curriculum is based on courses drawn from archaeology, anthropology, liberal arts, laboratory sciences and languages. Theory-based courses may be titled as:

  • Introduction to Archaeology
  • Methods and Theory of Archaeology
  • Archaeological Science

In addition to theory-based courses, students will be made to participate in field work to learn excavation techniques.
The admission requirements for the program will vary from school to school; however, some of the most typical admission requirements are:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Letters of reference
  • SAT or ACT scores

A bachelor’s degree in archaeology is a 4-year program (full-time), and can help you apply for fieldworker or archaeologist’s assistant position. But the majority of the jobs in the field are kept for those with a master’s degree in archaeology.

Archaeology Masters Programs

A master’s program in archeology involves an interdisciplinary study of a wide range of disciplines. These include history, science, culture, art, as well as extensive hands-on fieldwork. At this stage of study, students are required to choose a particular area of interest on which they wish to focus their studies on.
Some of the specialization areas which can be chosen include:

  • Underwater archeology
  • Ethno archeology
  • Industrial archeology
  • Mesoamerican archeology
  • Archaeozoology

The curriculum for graduate programs in archeology usually blend science and liberal arts courses. Students can expect to study history, geography, culture, arts and language. It is also typical for students to partake in an onsite field research project in order to get practical archeological experience.
Admissions requirements for these programs is as follows:

  • A bachelor’s degree with sufficient course work in archaeology, anthropology, art history, or in another related field
  • Applicants are expected to have completed prior field work and have lab experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores

This program is typically completed in 3 years of full-time study. With a graduate degree in the field of archeology, graduates can seek out positions in museums, universities, as well as a variety of field projects.

PhD in Archaeology

Doctoral programs in archeology allow students focus on a specific area of concentration within archeology. This could be a particular culture, era, or geographic area. They will be required to complete a dissertation on an original piece of research concerning their concentration area at the end of the program. Ph.D. students must also have reading proficiency in a second language, which can be pursued during the course of their degree.
Typical courses offered at this level include:

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

Admissions requirements for doctoral programs are as follows:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in archeology or a related field such as anthropology
  • GRE scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher

The duration of doctoral programs is typically 4 years of full-time study.

Online Archaeology Degrees

Online degree programs in archeology are extremely rare due to the significant hands-on training and fieldwork that is required in these programs. Nevertheless, there may be a select few bachelor-level programs available online, most likely offered in hybrid format.
If you wish to pursue additional educational qualifications in archeology, such as a master’s or Ph.D. program, neither of these are available online. These programs have extensive hands-on training, internships and fieldwork requirements and so, cannot be offered online.

Job Prospects and Salary

According to data from O*NET OnLine, in 2014 the median annual salary made by archeologists was $59,280. Furthermore, the projected employment growth for the profession between the years 2012-22 is 15-21% which is much faster than the average rate of growth for other professions.

Archeology is a dynamic and exciting profession which involves the study, preservation, and protection of historical sites and the materials found therein. In order to get into the field, you need to secure the appropriate educational qualifications starting with a bachelor’s degree. The higher your educational qualifications, the better your job prospects will be.

 

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Q:What can I do with an archaeology degree?

A:There are various places you can work at with a degree in archeology. You could work as an archaeologist, heritage manager, museum education officer, museum/gallery curator, archivist, cartographer, records manager, higher education lecturer, museum/gallery exhibitions officer, tourism officer, social researcher and so on. There are several local and foreign heritage agencies that look to hire people with archeology degrees.

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