PhD in Archaeology

The PhD in Archaeology is offered at both the post-baccalaureate (16-course) and post-master’s (8-course) levels. Specializations are offered either in the archaeology of a specific area or time period, or in a broader subject, such as paleoenvironmental studies or the archaeology of complex societies. Area studies emphasized include Old World prehistory, and New and Old World historical archaeology, the classical world, Egypt, and the Near East.


Sixteen courses are required for the post-baccalaureate and post-MA PhD, including the following: GRS AR 701, 702, 705, AR 706, and AR 780. Beyond these specific required courses, students must take one comparative topical course within the Department of Archaeology, one area course outside the major field of study, and one technical course that provides training in a specific skill. This last requirement may be waived if the student can effectively document or demonstrate sufficient proficiency in a technical skill. Proficiency may be demonstrated by the successful presentation of a project or by the completion, with a grade of B or higher, in a course taken previously.

Beyond these specific course requirements, students must complete a minimum of ten weeks of archaeological field and/or laboratory experience, as agreed upon by the student’s advisory committee and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Post-MA students may petition for transfer of credits for up to eight courses. The petition must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee as well as by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Language Requirements

Reading proficiency of two modern foreign languages must be demonstrated by the end of the fifth semester. In the program of study, the specific languages and the mode for demonstrating proficiency must be detailed. Modern language courses may not be counted toward the fulfillment of the 16 required degree courses.

Each language requirement can be fulfilled by successfully completing a graduate reading course offered through a department at Boston University or by a written translation examination prepared by faculty members. Departmental foreign language exams will be offered once each semester during the week preceding departmental PhD qualifying examinations.


Upon completion of coursework, each student will take a set of qualifying examinations, with written and oral components, that focus on the individual specialization developed by the student in conjunction with his or her advisor during the program of formal study. Before the end of the second semester following the examinations just described, students present their dissertation proposals to the faculty and other graduate students in the program.

Dissertation and Oral Examinations

The student prepares a scholarly dissertation of original research. When presented, this is the subject of an oral examination conducted by at least five faculty members.