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 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.

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

Post-Bachelor’s Requirements

For the post-baccalaureate PhD, a minimum of 16 courses (64 credits) is required. Course requirements are as follows:

  • GRS AR 701: Intellectual History of Archaeology
  • GRS AR 702: Contemporary Theory in Archaeology
  • GRS AR 705: Pre-Urban Development
  • GRS AR 706: Archaeology of Complex Societies
  • GRS AR 780: Archaeological Ethics and Law
  • One comparative topical course within the Department of Archaeology
  • One area course outside the major field of study
  • One technical course that provides training in a specific skill (this requirement may be waived if the student can effectively document or demonstrate sufficient proficiency in a technical skill)

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.

Post-Master’s Requirements

For the post-master’s degree, a minimum of eight semester courses (32 credits) is required. The specific course requirements will be established by the Graduate Studies Committee after reviewing the student’s background and determining what deficiencies, if any, are to be made up; a coherent program of study within the concentration chosen will be outlined at that time.

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 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 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.