Education

Best Archaeology Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Archaeology programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Archaeology is the study of the human past through the material remains of cultures. Archaeologists work in a variety of settings, including museums, government agencies, and private companies. Archaeology degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in archaeology, including field archaeology, museum curation, and archaeological consulting.

Archaeology degrees offer a broad overview of the field of archaeology, covering topics such as archaeology methods, field methods, and archaeological theory. Students in archaeology degree programs learn about the different aspects of archaeology, and how to apply those methods to the study of the human past.

How to Choose the Right Archaeology Program

When it comes to choosing the right archaeology degree program, there are a few things prospective students need to keep in mind. The first is that not all archaeology programs are created equal. Some programs may be more focused on fieldwork, while others may emphasize research and academic study. It’s important to choose a program that aligns with your interests and career goals.

Another important factor to consider is cost. Archaeology degree programs can be expensive, so it’s important to research tuition rates and financial aid opportunities before applying. Location is also a key factor to consider. Some programs may offer opportunities for fieldwork or internships that can’t be found in other parts of the country.

Finally, students need to make sure the program they choose is accredited. Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain standards and that credits earned will be transferable to other institutions.

Best Bachelor’s in Archaeology Programs

The best programs for Archaeology ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Yale University
New Haven, CT

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from Yale University is an interdisciplinary major that is supervised by the Yale’s Council on Archaeological Studies. The major is designed to expose students to a variety of archaeological research perspectives, including anthropological, historical, art historical, and scientific. The major consists of twelve courses, including an introductory survey, an introductory laboratory course, an advanced laboratory course, a theory course, and the senior research project. Students are also required to participate in a Yale-affiliated summer research project, or another archaeological field school approved in advance by the director of undergraduate studies.

Rank 2
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from Johns Hopkins University requires the completion of 13 courses totaling 39 credits. These can be selected from a variety of courses offered by different departments. In addition, students must take a core of three courses consisting of Introduction to Archaeology, World Prehistory, and Archaeological Method and Theory.

Archaeology majors have the option of writing an honors thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. The thesis is based on an original research problem developed in conjunction with that faculty member.

Rank 3
University of Evansville
Evansville, IN

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from University of Evansville is a unique program that focuses on the study of the ancient Mediterranean, Near East, and Western Europe. The interdisciplinary nature of the major provides the necessary preparation to attend graduate school or enter the workforce directly. Students in the program have the opportunity to learn excavation and lab techniques at the only ongoing on-campus excavation in the nation, led by Dr. Alan Kaiser. The department also houses the Classical Studies Program, giving students the opportunity to double major or add a minor.

Rank 4
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from University of Michigan is a dynamic four-year program that trains students in the study of material culture and the ancient world. The program is interdisciplinary, drawing on faculty and coursework from a variety of departments including anthropology, history, and art history. Students in the program have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork and research projects, and to work with the University’s extensive collections of artifacts and archives. The program provides a broad foundation in archaeology, preparing students for careers in research, teaching, and public outreach.

Rank 5
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from University of Southern California is a great choice for students interested in deepening their understanding of peoples and societies across space and time. The program provides students with a foundation in the principles of archaeology, as well as critical thinking, evidence assessment, and argument formulation skills. Students can choose to specialize in a particular area of interest, such as Mesoamerican cosmovision and culture, the arts of the ancient Americas, or the legacy of Rome.

Rank 6
Boston University
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from Boston University requires the successful completion of 12 courses: 9 in archaeology, 2 in anthropology, and 1 in statistics. The 9 archaeology courses include a core of 4 required courses and 5 additional courses chosen in consultation with an advisor. Every student must participate in an approved archaeological field experience, which may include survey, excavation, laboratory analysis, heritage management, remote sensing, or other research relating to an archaeological project.

Rank 7
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Classical Archaeology from Florida State University requires 30 hours of upper-level coursework. This includes classes in Classical Mythology, advanced classical archaeology courses, and Greek or Latin. Students are also encouraged to participate in archaeological fieldwork and study at the University’s study center in Florence.

Rank 8
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

The Bachelor of Science in Archaeological Sciences degree from University of Washington is designed for students who are interested in an in-depth study of archaeological methods and theories. The required courses in this degree program will equip students with specialized laboratory, analytical and field skills, and will provide them with the historical context needed for understanding contemporary issues in archaeological sciences. Special emphasis is put on teaching students the logic and rationale behind archaeological arguments. Students who complete this degree program will be well-equipped to pursue careers in archaeology-related fields.

Rank 9
George Washington University
Washington, DC

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from George Washington University is an interdisciplinary degree program that focuses on both the Old and New Worlds. The curriculum includes courses in anthropological archaeology, art history, classics, and history. Students in the program benefit from the D.C. area’s incredible resources, including the Smithsonian Institution and Dumbarton Oaks. Graduates of the program go on to careers in archaeology, education, publishing, international development, and world heritage conservation.

Rank 10
Texas A & M University
College Station, TX

The Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from Texas A & M University is a great choice for students interested in a career in anthropology or archaeology. The curriculum provides a broad yet rigorous education in the liberal arts, with a focus on behavioral studies. Students have the opportunity to participate in research projects in science and the humanities, and can also study specific topics in archaeology through upper-level courses. The degree is ideal for students planning to pursue a professional career or graduate study in anthropology or archaeology.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Archaeology Program

Students in a bachelor’s degree program in archaeology learn about the study of past cultures through the analysis of material remains. The field of archaeology is interdisciplinary, incorporating aspects of history, anthropology, sociology, and even geology. As a result, students in an archaeology program can expect to take courses in a variety of subjects.

In addition to coursework, students in an archaeology program will likely have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork, either through an internship or as part of a class. Fieldwork is an important part of archaeology, as it allows students to put their theoretical knowledge to practical use.

Most archaeology programs culminate in a capstone project, in which students apply what they have learned to a real-world archaeological site. This project gives students the chance to show off their skills to potential employers.

Overall, students in an archaeology program can expect to gain a well-rounded education that will prepare them for a variety of careers in the field.

Common Archaeology Courses

Courses in an archaeology degree program provide students with a broad introduction to the field before allowing them to specialize in a certain area. The following is a list of five courses that are typically required for an archaeology degree.

Methods in Archaeology

This course covers the methods, techniques, and approaches used in modern archaeology. Emphasis is placed on learning how to design and carry out an archaeological project, from initial research and site selection through data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Students will also learn about the ethical considerations involved in archaeology and the legal protections afforded to archaeological sites and artifacts. Upon completion, students should be able to design and carry out an archaeological project from start to finish, and understand the ethical and legal issues involved in the discipline.

Archaeology of Death & Burial

This course covers the archaeology of death and burial, with an emphasis on mortuary practices and their interpretation. Topics include the study of human remains, tomb architecture, grave goods, and funerary customs from a variety of archaeological cultures. The course also covers the ethical considerations involved in the excavation and study of human remains. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze mortuary remains and artifacts, and interpret funerary practices in terms of social, religious, and cultural beliefs and values.

Cultural Resource Management

This course covers an introduction to cultural resource management in the United States with an emphasis on federal and state laws and regulations. Topics include the National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and state laws and regulations. Upon completion, students should be able to apply cultural resource management laws and regulations to real-world scenarios.

Native American Archaeology

This course covers the archaeology of Native American cultures of North America. Emphasis is placed on the major prehistoric cultures, the impact of European colonization, and the development of modern Native American cultures. Topics include the study of archaeological sites, the interpretation of cultural remains, and the application of archaeological methods and theory to the understanding of Native American cultures. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the major prehistoric cultures of North America, the impact of European colonization, and the development of modern Native American cultures.

World Archaeology

This course surveys the field of archaeology as it is practiced around the world. Emphasis is placed on the diversity of archaeological methods and theories, as well as the ways in which archaeologists study the human past in different parts of the globe. Topics include the history of archaeology, the development of archaeological theory, field methods, laboratory methods, and the interpretation of archaeological data. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the basic methods and theory of archaeology, as well as describe the major archaeological sites and cultures around the world.

Career Options for Archaeology Graduates

Graduates of archaeology programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including history, anthropology, and archaeology. They may also work in fields such as museum curation, conservation, and education.

Archaeologist

Archaeologists study human cultures of the past by looking at the things they left behind—including tools, buildings, and art. They use this evidence to piece together stories about how people lived, what they believed, and what was important to them. Archaeologists typically specialize in a certain time period or region, such as the ancient Maya or medieval Europe. Their work can involve anything from excavating sites to analyzing artifacts to writing reports.

Museum Curator

Curators are responsible for the care and presentation of collections of objects in museums. They acquire, research, and conserve objects and specimens for exhibition, education, and research. Curators also develop and organize exhibitions, write and edit exhibit catalogs and labels, and give public talks about their collections.

Archaeology Professor

Archaeology professors teach students about the study of the human past through material culture. This can include everything from buildings and tools to bones and pottery. Professors typically teach courses in their area of specialty and may also conduct research, write books or articles, and give public lectures. In addition to teaching and research, professors are also responsible for academic advising, committee work, and other administrative tasks.

Archivist

Archivists work with all kinds of records and information—from ancient manuscripts to modern electronic files—to ensure that they are properly preserved and accessible to those who need them. Archivists may work in a variety of settings, including libraries, museums, historical societies, corporations, law firms, and government agencies. In addition to caring for and organizing materials, archivists also create finding aids to help people locate what they need, provide reference services to answer questions, and give presentations to groups about the collections.

Museum Education Officer

Museum education officers develop and oversee educational programs for museums. They collaborate with curators to design programs that will enhance visitors’ understanding and appreciation of exhibitions. Museum education officers also develop and teach programs themselves, which can include leading tours, facilitating discussions, giving lectures, and leading workshops. They may also develop educational materials, such as handouts, work with school groups, and train museum staff on educational best practices.

Insights From an Archaeology Graduate

Kason Pace is an Archaeologist at the National Park Service. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from James Madison University. Kason has over 10 years of experience in archaeology and cultural resource management.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Archaeology degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Kason Pace: I think the most important thing I did was to get involved in as many field projects as I could. I was also a teaching assistant for a few of the labs, which was really helpful in terms of learning how to communicate complex ideas to people who may not have a lot of experience with archaeology.

In terms of job preparation, I think the most important thing is to just get as much experience as you can. A lot of times, you can get experience through volunteer work or internships.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Kason Pace: The most rewarding aspect of my career is being able to share my knowledge of the past with others. I love being able to take what I have learned through my research and share it with the public. I also enjoy being able to work with people from all walks of life and help them to understand and appreciate the importance of archaeology and cultural resource management.

The most challenging aspect of my career is dealing with the paperwork. I have to fill out a lot of paperwork and it can be very time-consuming.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Kason Pace: The most challenging course I took was my senior seminar. It was a research-based class where we had to choose a topic, conduct research, and write a paper on that topic. I would advise students to start working on their paper early and to choose a topic that they are interested in.

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