PhD in Archaeology

The PhD in Archaeology program prepares students for a position in academia pursuing research and teaching; in museums conducting research, collections management, and public outreach; or in public and private sector organizations devoted to public education or archaeological resource management. Specializations are offered in scientific approaches across regions, such as paleoenvironmental and archaeozoological studies, as well as in certain specific areas. The latter include Mesoamerica, prehistoric and historical North America, the prehistoric Mediterranean, Egypt, Israel, and the classical Near East.

Applicants must have a BA or MA, preferably from a program related to archaeology (such as anthropology or classical studies, with a concentration in archaeology). Students lacking sufficient preparation in archaeology will make up the deficiency by taking courses as determined by the Graduate Studies Committee, in addition to those required in the program.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 16 courses (64 credits) is required. Course requirements are as follows:

  • GRS AR 891 Contemporary Theory in Archaeology
  • GRS AR 892 Archaeological Ethics and the Law
  • GRS AR 893 World Archaeology
  • GRS AR 894 Scientific Methods in Archaeology
  • 4 credits in an area outside primary field of study
  • 8 credits of field or laboratory research

Each student, in consultation with faculty advisors, will also develop a program of study that includes a field of specialization. Beyond these specific course requirements, students must complete a minimum of ten weeks of archaeological field and/or laboratory experience.

Language Requirements

All students pursuing a PhD in Archaeology are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in two foreign languages 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. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination, successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University, or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at Boston University.

Qualifying Examinations

Upon completion of coursework, normally in the third year of study, 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 advisors 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 Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the director of graduate studies, and the department chair/program director. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree.