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Archaeology Degree Programs with Career Information

Higher Education Articles March 26, 2013

Archaeological sites and materials are the primary focus of archaeology programs. Schools offer archaeology programs at the doctoral, master and bachelor degree level. The minimum educational requirement to start a career in archaeology is a bachelor degree, but a majority of archaeologists hold advanced degrees.

Archaeology Bachelor Degree Program

Only a few colleges and universities in the United States offer bachelor degree program in archaeology. However, in the programs that are offered, students will learn skills in theory, methods, computing, analysis, and processing related to archaeology. Art, culture, and history will also be covered. Bachelor degree programs in archaeology allow students to select an area of concentration after basic educational courses are completed during the first two years of enrollment.

Area of concentration may include a certain type of archaeology, heritage, complex societies, and small-scale societies. Several programs provide students with plenty of research opportunities abroad where they can participate in fieldwork, along with allowing them to major in a particular geographical region. Students will have the opportunity to utilize methods of cleaning materials through laboratory classes. Some individuals are required to minor in areas that support their archaeology interest. Several popular minor areas of study include history, geoarchaeology, and biology. Students are required to become proficient in other languages than their native language since they travel across the globe on a regular basis to dig sites.

Educational Requirements

Aspiring students who want to enroll in a bachelor degree program in archaeology are required to hold a high school diploma. Some colleges or universities may prefer students who performed well in high school history and geography courses.

Program Coursework

During the second or third year of enrollment, students will need to complete a core set of archeology courses. Some colleges and universities will require students to complete a senior project in order for them to earn their degree. Courses may include:

•Earth materials
•Human evolution
•Historical geology
•Paleoanthropology
•History on anthropological theory
•World cultures

Career Options

Individuals with a bachelor degree in archaeology will have many career opportunities with museums, research organizations, and government. Some possible career opportunities may include:

•Collections manager
•Park ranger
•Cultural resources specialist
•Research archaeologist
•Archaeological lab technician

Archaeology Master Degree Program

To become an archeologist, the minimum educational requirement is a graduate degree in archaeology. Graduate degree programs will allow students to specialize in a specific time period or region. Typically, master degree programs in archaeology are specialized; aspiring students need to apply to the ones that are in line with their professional goals and interests. Master degree program courses concentrate on laboratory techniques, analysis, practical field experience, methods of removal, and archeological theory. Several programs will require a master degree thesis.

Educational Requirements

Colleges and Universities expect applicants to possess an undergraduate degree, but they may not require that bachelor degree to be in a specific area of study. Archaeology department will likely request a writing sample, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Program Coursework

Several classes include fieldwork and laboratory components that allow students the opportunity to gain practical experience. Other classes concentrate on methods of investigation and archaeological theory. Some courses may include:

•Geographic information system (GIS)
•Historic preservation
•Ethnographic research
•Human osteology
•Managing cultural resources
•Archaeological ethics and laws

Career Options

Students who have completed the graduate degree program in archaeology may seek employment in the field of cultural resources management. Other may choose to teach introductory courses in archaeology at a local community college. Some possible career options may include:

•Egyptologist
•Archaeological field director
•Contract archaeologist
•Archaeology instructor

Archaeology Doctoral Degree Program

Similar to other archaeology degree program, students will concentrate on a specific facet of archaeological research through the doctoral degree program. Several doctoral degree programs allow students to concentrate on a specific society or culture or certain facet of anthropology. Common areas of emphasis include Roman art and archaeology, historic preservation, Greek archaeology, and Renaissance art.

A majority of archaeology and anthropology departments are closely connected, and they provide opportunities to study overlapping areas of interest. Students will work closely with scientific techniques, becoming proficient at interpreting, dating, and analyzing details. Individuals will need to be proficient in the language of the area they plan to study, and several programs require proficiency in a minimum of two languages beyond the individual’s native language. For instance, students who are specializing in classical archaeology are required to be fluent in Greek and Latin. To complete the doctoral degree program, students are required to complete a dissertation and pass a comprehensive exam.

Educational Requirements

The minimum educational requirement for students who want to get accepted into a Ph.D. degree program is completion of a master degree program in archaeology. Aspiring students will be required to submit a statement of purpose, writing sample, curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation, and scores to the Graduate Record Examination.

Program Coursework

Students are required to complete advanced archaeology core courses before they are able to concentrate on a certain facet of the field. Course electives will provide additional background and information on a student’s emphasis area. Some archaeology core courses may include:

•Civilizations
•Food-gathering societies
•Problems in ancient architecture
•Underwater archaeology
•Architecture of Periclean Athens
•Classical Greek painting and sculpture

Salary Information and Career Outlook

Archaeologists and anthropologists’ employment opportunities will increase by twenty-eight percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); this level of growth is much faster than average (www.bls.gov). The optimistic job market outlook for archaeologists and anthropologists are due to the need of fulfilling legal requirements by preserving sites and artifacts that are related to large transportation and construction projects. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for anthropologists and archaeologists during 2010 was $58,040.

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