BA in Archaeology

Boston University is a leading center for the study of archaeology. We offer students the opportunity to work with faculty in the field, the laboratory, and the classroom in order to pursue their study of archaeology. A major asset of our program is the city of Boston itself. With its many museums and libraries, and a vast wealth of historical sites and landmarks, the city provides students with a venue for sophisticated and exciting study. We offer a major and minor in Archaeology as well as a combined BA/MA in Archaeology.

Resources in Archaeology at Boston University

The Boston University Archaeology Society is organized by undergraduate majors and offers many opportunities for students to socialize, meet visiting scholars, and learn about fieldwork opportunities. The group has regular meetings and is open to all students.

Various consortia make it possible for students to take advantage of the collective resources of numerous institutions of higher learning in the metropolitan area.

Career Opportunities

An undergraduate degree in archaeology is preparation for study or professional development in almost any field. If you are interested in a career in archaeology—in research, higher education, museum work, or cultural resource managementyou will need an advanced degree, and your undergraduate degree from Boston University will put you in a competitive position for admission to a graduate program. And if you decide to pursue another career, the broad range of studies in our undergraduate program, with its strong focus on the liberal arts, represents excellent preparation for any career, from law, business, and medicine to education and beyond. Archaeologists attract considerable interest from employers in areas like publishing, government service, management, and foreign service because of their diversity of skills and breadth of knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a major in Archaeology are able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of archaeological theory and of the archaeological record of multiple world regions.
  • Use analytical methods from archaeology to understand past human cultures.
  • Conduct archaeological field research and scientific analyses to investigate material remains.
  • Discuss contemporary debates concerning the study and understanding of the past, including ethical issues relevant to preservation.


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Archaeology will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historical Interpretation; Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship; Scientific and Social Inquiry, and most of the requirements in Communication and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

In addition to the curricular requirements of the College of Arts & Sciences, an undergraduate major in Archaeology requires the successful completion of a total of 12 courses: nine in archaeology, two in anthropology, and one in statistics.

All required courses are 4 credit hours.

Required Archaeology Courses (9)

In archaeology, students take a core of four required courses:

  • CAS AR 101 Introduction to Archaeology
  • CAS AR 307 Archaeological Science
  • CAS AR 450 Methods and Theory of Archaeology
  • CAS AR 503 Archaeological Field Methods: Survey and Excavation (or equivalent, for which prior approval is necessary) or CAS 556 Archaeological Field Research. CAS AR 503 is offered as part of a department field school program in Archaeological Heritage Management during the summer.

Students choose five additional archaeology courses, distributed as follows, with a maximum of one course at the 100 level:

  • One technical course from: CAS AR 308, 505, 506, 510, 516, 518, 556, 570, or 590
  • One topical course from: CAS AR 150, 200, 202, 205, 206, 208, 215, 290, 353, 375, 396, 435, 438, 480, 507, 570, 577, 590, or 593
  • One area course from: all CAS AR courses not listed above
  • Two additional CAS AR (technical, topical, and/or area) courses selected in consultation with the advisor

Required Related Courses (3)

  • One course in statistics (CAS MA 115 or MA 213)
  • CAS AN 101 (Introduction to Cultural Anthropology)
  • One additional CAS AN course (to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor)

Second Language Requirement

Students are expected to fulfill the CAS second language requirement with a language appropriate to their majors. In some cases, at least two semesters of an ancient language are recommended in addition to a modern foreign language.

Archaeological Field Experience Policy

Every major in Archaeology 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. The field experience requirement may be satisfied by successfully completing CAS AR 503, AR 556, or another supervised field program. Prior approval from the student’s academic advisor is required. If a non-BU field program carries academic credit, prior approval for transfer of at least 4 academic credits at BU should be obtained. In certain exceptional circumstances, extensive or unusual fieldwork that does not carry academic credit may be used to satisfy the requirement for AR 503, but prior approval from the student’s advisor, the director of undergraduate studies, and the director of the Archaeology Program is required. Faculty advisors will work with students to identify an appropriate field school placement. For details about this policy, majors should consult with their advisor.

Second Major or Minor

Because archaeologists’ study of the human past draws so widely on other fields and links to interests across the liberal arts, sciences, and professions, the major in Archaeology works particularly well in combination with a second major or complementary minor. Recent Archaeology students, with strong encouragement and support from their department advisors, have branched out to major or minor in related areas including anthropology, history, and international relations; history of art and architecture, classical and medieval studies; foreign languages and regional (European, Latin American, Middle Eastern, African, etc.) studies; biology and chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, marine science, computer science and engineering, and medical science; as well as communications and journalism. Many other major-major or major-minor combinations with Archaeology are possible.

Portfolio Guidelines for Archaeology Majors

Major portfolios allow students to document their capstone accomplishments in the program and provide data for the purpose of annual program assessment and evaluation by the faculty.

The AR major’s portfolio contains the following materials provided by the student as PDF files:

  • A paper written in CAS AR 450
  • A 2–3 page summary of the student’s field research (CAS AR 503 or equivalent)
  • A copy of the student’s honors thesis or IWD (if applicable)

The AR major’s portfolio will contain the following other materials provided by faculty/staff:

  • A written evaluation of the student’s performance in CAS AR 450 by the instructor of record
  • A written exit interview provided to the student by departmental staff prior to graduation (the student’s identity is anonymous in these interviews and all are uploaded by departmental staff to a single folder)

A record of the portfolio will be kept in digital form mounted as a folder on the centralized server maintained by the Archaeology Program.

Honors in the Major

Qualified students may elect to write a substantial research paper for honors in the major (the equivalent of two regular courses). A written proposal describing the project must be submitted to the undergraduate advisor no later than the end of the junior year.