BA/MA in Archaeology

Archaeology is a global discipline in which a comparative perspective is brought to bear on all types of material culture in the pursuit of understanding people of the distant and recent past. To this end, the Archaeology Program provides education and training in the recovery, analysis, and interpretation of the material remains of the human past, including the application of scientific techniques, as well as the study of archaeological heritage.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a major in Archaeology are able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of history of the archaeological theory.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the archaeological record of multiple world regions.
  • Apply methods of archaeological analysis to material remains common to archaeological datasets.
  • Participate in a significant archaeological research experience.
  • Incorporate their core knowledge of archaeological methods, theory, cases, and ethical issues to evaluating, in written and oral form, contemporary debates concerning the study and understanding of the human past.

Students graduating with an MA in Archaeology will also be able to:

  • Synthesize and apply core knowledge pertaining to archaeological research topics, methods, theory, and ethical practices to their own research in order to create an independent research project.


Students must complete all the requirements of the BA degree with a major in Archaeology and an additional 32 units of graduate work in Archaeology, or in related disciplines with permission of their advisors. A total of 160 units will be required. The specific graduate-level course requirements beyond requirements for the BA in Archaeology are:

  • CAS AR 592 Archaeological Ethics and the Law (4 units)
  • CAS AR 594 Scientific Methods in Archaeology (4 units)
  • CAS AR 595 Professional Practice in Archaeology (4 units)
  • 4 units of field or laboratory research, or external internship (options include CAS AR 503, CAS AR 556, GRS AR 901–908, GRS AR 910, and GRS AR 911)
  • An additional 16 units of graduate-level coursework chosen in consultation with a student’s advisor

Foreign Language Requirement

Reading proficiency in one modern or ancient foreign language must be demonstrated by the end of the first term of the fifth year of study. The specific language and the mode for demonstrating proficiency must be detailed in the student’s program of study developed on entry into the program.

The language requirement is fulfilled by successfully completing a graduate reading course offered through a department at Boston University, by a written translation examination arranged in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, or by the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at an accredited undergraduate institution (as documented in an official transcript).

Master’s Project

The master’s project will consist of a substantial piece of research and writing. There is no specific format and style; both will depend on the nature of the project. Students must work with their Advisory Committee to craft a project prospectus. An initial prospectus must be included in the student’s program of study. The final prospectus must be approved by the Advisory Committee, and submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies for review by the Graduate Studies Committee, by the eighth week of the student’s second term in the program. The final version of the master’s project must be approved by the Advisory Committee no later than week 13 of the term in which the student intends to graduate, and such approval must be indicated to the Director of Graduate Studies at that time in order for the student to receive both the BA and MA degrees.

Advisory Committee and Program of Study

On entry into the program, all students must form an Advisory Committee, which shall comprise two members of the Archaeology graduate faculty. The student is responsible for submitting the names of their Advisory Committee members to the Director of Graduate Studies; one of these members should be named as the student’s advisor of record.

The student should work with their Advisory Committee to finalize a full program of study. The program should propose how the student plans to complete all course requirements as well as outline a master’s project. Students must submit the program of study by the end of their seventh term of study. The program of study will then be reviewed by the Graduate Studies Committee for approval. Once approved, it will be entered in the student’s file.

This program may be changed subject to approval of the student’s Advisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies. All such modifications must be finalized in writing to ensure that no misunderstandings arise.

In planning their program of study, students and their advisors should be attentive to upcoming faculty leaves and projected course scheduling (e.g., noting that not all survey courses, in particular, are offered every year). Students are responsible for maintaining regular contact and communication with their advisors. Every spring, the full faculty will meet to review and evaluate graduate student progress. A student’s continuation in the program is contingent upon satisfactory progress.

Application Information

For general BA/MA information for prospective students and application instructions, please refer to BA/MA and BA/MS Programs section of this Bulletin. Applications must be received by April 1 of the junior year. If the application does not meet the deadline, a Request for Waiver of Application Deadline must be completed and signed by the department chair and submitted with an application. The applicant must include their BU transcript, two faculty recommendation letters, a writing sample (10 pages, usually drawn from previous coursework), a plan of study, and a personal statement describing the applicant’s interest in the program. Applicants must meet a GPA requirement of at least 3.0 overall and 3.3 in the major at time of application.