MA in Archaeology
The Department of Archaeology offers MA degrees in Archaeology, Archaeological Heritage Management, and Geoarchaeology. The purpose of this handbook is to explain departmental procedures and requirements to graduate students seeking the MA degree at Boston University.
The Department requires regular communication between graduate students and their advisers, especially with respect to individual programs of study. Questions concerning academic policies, regulations, admissions, financial aid, petitions, or grievances can be addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies, who represents the Graduate Studies Committee. Information on use of Department equipment or facilities, faculty office hours, and the like can be obtained from the main office or the web site.
Intent of the Program
The intent of the Program is to provide appropriate education and training in the recovery, analysis, and interpretation of archaeological materials and context while simultaneously assuring that sufficient background is obtained in one or more traditional cognate fields such as classics, art history, anthropology, and history. In recognition of the importance of scientific techniques in the analysis, dating, and interpretation of archaeological finds, the program is also designed to include classroom and practical training in the biological and physical sciences and in quantitative methods, either within the framework of the archaeological curriculum itself or within that of other departments or programs [such as the Center for Remote Sensing].
The MA program is designed especially for those who (1) are undecided about committing themselves initially to a PhD program; (2) intend ultimately to specialize in another discipline but wish to obtain a degree in archaeology as part of their overall education; (3) or wish to obtain training in certain specialized areas of study offered here. Other post-baccalaureate students would normally apply to the 16-course PhD program in which they can earn the MA in the course of working toward the higher degree.
Applicants must have a BA or BS, preferably from a program in archaeology or one related to archaeology (such as anthropology or classical studies, with a concentration in archaeology). Students lacking sufficient preparation in archaeology will be required to take courses, as determined by the Graduate Studies Committee, to make up the deficiency. On occasion these courses may be beyond the minimum specified by the Graduate School.
Students in archaeology may concentrate in (1) the archaeology of an area and time period, or (2) in a broader topical study. Examples of (1) are Old World prehistoric (Mediterranean, Near Eastern, or African), Old World historical (classical or Near Eastern), or New World historical (colonial and industrial). Examples of (2) are comparative prehistoric studies, paleoenvironmental studies, archaeology of complex societies, and others. Students who concentrate in a topical field, however, would still be well advised to develop some expertise in one or more major geographical areas, something typically demanded by potential employers. In addition, students may receive an MA in Archaeological Heritage Management or Geoarchaeolgy.
Initial Counseling and Evaluation of Background
During the registration period preceding the first semester of study, each incoming student will meet with the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee, who will assign a primary adviser. At that time, the student’s formal background in archaeology will be reviewed with the intent of determining how deficiencies, if any, are to be made up in the first year of study. A statement concerning the Director’s decision will be entered in the student’s file for reference. Students are reminded that the graduate program requires demonstration of reading proficiency in modern foreign languages (one for the MA.); that everyone must have completed at least two courses in sociocultural anthropology, or take these during the course of study here; and that those concentrating in classical archaeology or Near Eastern historical archaeology must command at least one ancient language in addition to the modern one. As far as possible, this preparation–- or a substantial part of it–- should be done prior to admission to the program. Language background is among those criteria reviewed when admission applications are being evaluated.
After this initial interview, a selection of courses for the first semester will be made with the help of the adviser and the necessary registration forms filled in. All incoming students, during their first full year of residence, must take AR701 (Intellectual History of Archaeology), AR702 (Contemporary Theory in Archaeology), AR705 (Pre-Urban Development), and AR706 (Archaeology of Complex Societies). AR701 and 705 will be offered in the fall; AR706 and AR702 will be offered in the spring. Waiver of one or more of these courses is possible if the student has had a clearly equivalent graduate course, or courses, elsewhere. In addition, students must take AR780 (Archaeological Ethics and the Law) prior to taking the MA examination. AR780 is offered in the Fall. In addition to the required eight courses, students must demonstrate a command of the skills and materials covered in CAS AR503 or GRS AR882, or take one of these courses.
Subsequent Advising and Study Outlines
In order to maintain a coherent and balanced individual program of study, the adviser will help the student outline the overall program (including courses and scheduling of language, comprehensive, and MA examinations), a copy of which will be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee for approval. The completed outline (which should be submitted during the first semester of study) will be entered in the student’s permanent file. The files themselves are kept in the Department office.
Changes in the program of study may be made subsequently, subject to approval. Advisers may also be changed, but both the old and new advisers and the Graduate Studies Committee chair should be formally apprised of this action in writing in order that no misunderstandings arise.
As stated above, students are required to maintain regular contact with their advisers. In particular, each student is to fully discuss his or her program in detail (including selection of courses for the next or subsequent semesters, any changes in the program of study, scheduling of departmental examinations or Thesis, progress toward completion of requirements, etc.) during the pre-registration period each fall and spring. The adviser at that time should update the student’s progress report (copies of which have been given to all faculty members) to include all recently completed requirements and a list of requirements to be fulfilled during the following semester. Advisers are expected to be able to provide this kind of information to the Chair of the Department or the Graduate Studies Committee at any time it may be needed for student evaluations and the like.
A minimum of eight semester courses is required, including GRS AR701, AR702, AR705, AR706, and AR780; and three courses in an area or topical concentration. Students must also establish that they have already been trained in field techniques of archaeological reconnaissance and excavation or take a field school approved by their adviser in addition to the required courses. Those entering the MA program with little background in the discipline typically may be required to complete more than the minimum eight courses for the degree as part of their program.
Major courses normally are not to be taken off-campus. Some students might, however, wish to take certain specialized courses elsewhere that would serve to enhance their skills. Prior approval for such courses must be obtained from the Graduate Studies Committee, via one’s adviser. Likewise, students should not treat directed-study courses (900 level) as substitutes for regular courses (except those in the Archaeological Heritage Management Program), but rather as a means of attaining further, more intensive knowledge of an area or topic not obtainable in the regular curriculum. Anyone intending to register for a directed study course must fill out a form (available in the Department office and web site) indicating the nature of the work to be undertaken and having the signed approvals of the adviser, the supervising instructor, and that of either the Department Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies. In planning course-of-study programs, students and their advisers should be attentive to upcoming faculty leaves and to projected course-scheduling (e.g., noting that not all survey courses, in particular, are offered every year).
Each semester during pre-registration, the student and adviser are to update the program of study, in particular so that there is a record of courses selected for the upcoming semester. One copy should be retained by the adviser and another given to the Director of Graduate Studies.
Another reason for maintaining the progress record is to be certain that each student takes all of the courses relevant to his or her stated area of concentration. Both students and advisers must take care to see that this requirement is met–not only to prepare the student for departmental examinations but as a matter of ascertaining that proper and sufficient background is obtained for a professional career.
The student must demonstrate reading proficiency in one modern foreign language is required.
The modern language requirements are fulfilled by a written translation examination prepared by faculty members, or by successfully completing a graduate reading course in the Department of Romance Studies . Departmental exams are normally offered each semester during the week preceding the departmental MA exams.
A schedule for meeting language requirements should be established at the time of entrance to the program.
The MA examinations will be on the area or topic of the individual’s concentration and may vary in number according to the topic and recommendation of the adviser; in either case, the subject matter is expected to be relatively broad (e.g., materials analysis rather than just lithics typology and use wear, or Aegean prehistory rather than just the Neolithic of Crete, etc.). The student will discuss the nature of the exams with his/her adviser.
The MA exams are given toward the end of each semester, usually in November/December and April. Unless they require a substantial amount of remedial coursework to make up deficiencies, students should take the MA exams in the November/December session.
In the event that the results of the MA exams are not deemed entirely satisfactory, the examining faculty members will recommend to the Graduate Studies Committee the remedial action they feel appropriate, which may involve compensatory essays or retaking part or all of the examinations the next time they are offered. A student may retake the examinations only once, and those whose performance is judged a failure on the second occasion will not be allowed to continue in the program.
Each student will write and submit a thesis for faculty review. The thesis will be prepared under the supervision of at least two readers who will evaluate the submission on behalf of the Department. The thesis is to be submitted in final form during the regular academic year (September-May). The attached schedule provides the deadlines. Readers are not necessarily expected to work intensively with a student on thesis preparation during the summer or to participate in the formal evaluation of a thesis during that period.
In most cases, it is anticipated that a student will require three or four semesters to complete the MA degree, especially if he or she has had little prior work in archaeology and related fields. Graduate-level archaeology courses are not offered on campus during the summer or in the evening division, and the faculty are not required to assume responsibility for directed studies during the summer.
*The diploma application is valid only for the graduation date specified; a new application must be filed if the student does not graduate as planned.
***Prior to the signing of the thesis, the candidate must schedule an appointment with the Record Officer for review of the thesis format. All M. A. degree requirements are complete only when both copies of the thesis have been certified as meeting the standards of the Graduate School and of the library.
By University regulations, the MA program must be completed within three (3) years of the initial registration for the degree.