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. The MA in Archaeology 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. 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.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Demonstrate a broad and deep mastery of the research topics and theoretical frameworks common in contemporary archaeology.
  • Demonstrate competency in scientific methods common in contemporary archaeology, to the level of being able to evaluate scholarly arguments that employ such methods.
  • Demonstrate competency in contemporary archaeological ethics, to the level of being able to conduct their own scholarly activities ethically.
  • Successfully incorporate core knowledge of archaeological topics, theory, science, and ethics into their own area of inquiry within the larger discipline.
  • Undertake independent archaeological research, in the field or lab, or a professional experience in archaeology, equivalent to a minimum of 4 credit hours.
  • Possess the capacity to make original and significant contributions to knowledge about the human past recorded in the archaeological record.

Course Requirements

A minimum of eight semester courses (32 credits) is required. Current requirements include:

  • CAS AR 591 Theory in Archaeology (4 cr)
  • CAS AR 592 Archaeological Ethics and the Law (4 cr)
  • CAS AR 594 Scientific Methods in Archaeology (4 cr)
  • CAS AR 595 Professional Futures in Archaeology (4 cr)
  • 4 credits 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)

Students will acquire the remaining 12 credit hours from additional courses selected in consultation with their faculty advisors.

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in Archaeology are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language by the end of the second semester of study. Language proficiency can be demonstrated 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. 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 semester 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 semester in which the student intends to graduate, and such approval must be indicated to the Director of Graduate Studies at that time.

Application Information

For general MA information for prospective students and application instructions, please refer to the MA and MS Admissions section of our website.