PhD in Archaeology

New applications for the PhD in Archaeology are no longer being accepted. Students interested in a PhD in this field may wish to consider the Anthropological Archaeology specialization offered as part of the Anthropology PhD program described here. Requirements for students currently enrolled in the PhD program are listed below.

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 in diverse aspects of cultural heritage studies or archaeological resource management. Specializations are offered in a range of scientific approaches such as paleoenvironmental and zooarchaeological studies, as well as in certain specific areas. The latter include Mesoamerica, prehistoric and historical North America, and the prehistoric to Classical Mediterranean and 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.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate a broad and deep mastery of the research topics and theoretical frameworks common in contemporary archaeology.
  • Students will demonstrate advanced knowledge of the archaeological sequences of two or more areas of the world, as well as the methods by which to compare different world regions.
  • Students will demonstrate competency in scientific methods common in contemporary archaeology, to the level of being able to evaluate scholarly arguments that employ such methods.
  • Students will demonstrate competency in contemporary archaeological ethics, to the level of being able to conduct their own scholarly activities ethically.
  • Students will successfully incorporate core knowledge of archaeological topics, theory, science, and ethics into their own area of inquiry within the larger discipline.
  • Students will undertake independent archaeological research, in the field or lab, equivalent to a minimum of 8.0 unit hours (10 weeks).
  • Students will produce and defend, in both written and oral forms, original and significant contributions to knowledge about the human past recorded in the archaeological record.
  • Students will produce and teach archaeological course content at an undergraduate level.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 16 courses (64 unit hours) is required. Course requirements are as follows:

  • CAS AR 891 Contemporary Theory in Archaeology
  • CAS AR 892 Archaeological Ethics and the Law
  • CAS AR 893 World Archaeology
  • CAS AR 894 Scientific Methods in Archaeology
  • 4 units in an area outside the primary region of study
  • 8 units of field or laboratory research
  • An additional 36 unit hours of graduate-level coursework chosen in consultation with the student’s advisors

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-MA students may petition for transfer of units for up to 32 unit hours. The petition must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee as well as by the Graduate Studies Committee.

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 term. 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 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).

Qualifying Examinations

Upon completion of coursework, each student will take a set of qualifying examinations—normally in the third year of study, with written and oral components—that focuses on the individual specialization developed by the student in conjunction with their advisors during the program of formal study. Before the end of the second term 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.