Dig into history with one of Grad School Hub's 10 Best Master's Degrees in Archaeology. The following degrees prepare graduates to excavate and examine the complexities of humanity.
The field of archaeology uncovers the artifacts and materials that speak volumes about the human species and the societies we build. Studying these materials deepens human understanding of our cultural and historical differences, as well as our similarities.
The following 10 Best Master's Degrees in Archaeology are Grad School Hub's top picks for a rich archaeological, cultural, and historical education. Many of the programs listed include both exciting, global, real-world field study opportunities, as well as opportunities to research and analyze archaeological findings. Along with teaching us about people of the past, ancient history can teach us lessons about our present and future.
A graduate degree in archaeology can prepare graduates for a wide range of careers in cultural exploration and preservation. Graduates may work in archives, cultural resource management firms, field archaeology, government agencies such as the forest service, museum curation, non-profit heritage organizations, or teaching at the community-college or secondary-school levels.
Alternatively, those with a master's degree in the field may choose to pursue doctoral study. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, anthropologists and archaeologists earned a median salary of $62,410 in 2018. Career outlook in these fields is growing at a projected rate of four percent, which is slower than average. An advanced degree and strong field experience may strengthen prospects in the competitive market.
The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 10 Best Master's Degrees in Archaeology for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:
- Alumni Feedback: 20%
- Continued Enrollment: 20%
- Degree Selectivity: 10%
- Graduate Expenses: 25%
- Projected Annual Salary: 25%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.
Here are the 10 Best Master's Degrees in Archaeology for 2020 – 2021!
#10 – Yale University
Master of Arts in Archaeological Studies
New Haven, CT
Yale University offers a Master of Arts in Archaeological Studies through its Council on Archaeological Studies. The degree program is designed to prepare graduates for careers in cultural resource management, museums, and teaching in secondary schools and community colleges. It can also refresh and advance the archaeological knowledge of working archaeological administrators, curators, and teachers or prepare students for doctoral study. The curriculum includes laboratory courses and courses in areas such as anthropology, art history, ecology, evolutionary biology, and religious studies. All students must participate in a summer field project and write a master's thesis. The MAAS can be completed in one academic year of full-time study.
Yale University is an Ivy League research university located in downtown New Haven, Connecticut. Chartered in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The university's Department of Anthropology was established in 1937. The department traces its origins to research and teaching work done within the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Institute of Human Relations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Yale fourth in the nation for best value and third overall.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $53,430
#9 – Texas A&M University
Master of Science in Maritime Archaeology and Conservation
College Station, TX
Texas A&M University offers a Master of Science in Maritime Archaeology and Conservation through its Department of Anthropology. The degree program focuses on nautical archaeology, the study of the remains of boats and ships and the people who created and used them. The curriculum explores the history of maritime commerce, cargoes, and ports; seafaring; ship construction; and conservation techniques to analyze and preserve this history. Course examples include Archaeological Artifact Conservation, Medieval Seafaring in the Mediterranean, and Outfitting and Sailing the Wooden Sailing Ship 1400-1900. The curriculum culminates in the proposal, completion, and defense of a master's research thesis.
Texas A&M is a public land-, sea-, and space-grant research university. Located in College Station, it opened in 1876 as the first public higher education institution in Texas. The university has grown into the largest university in the state and the second largest in the United States. It is the founding institution of the Texas A&M University System. A&M's research facilities include the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. U.S. News & World Report lists A&M No. 37 in Most Innovative Schools and No. 24 in Top Public Schools nationally.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,870 in-state; $37,495 out-of-state
#8 – Florida State University
Master of Arts in Classical Archaeology
Florida State University offers a Master of Arts in Classical Archaeology through its Department of Classics. The degree program focuses on the archaeology and art history of the ancient Mediterranean world. It is ideal for those wishing to pursue doctoral studies. The degree requires 32 credit hours of coursework. Each student must complete a fieldwork requirement, typically through a field school program in Italy, and meet an ancient language requirement in Greek or Latin. The curriculum culminates in a comprehensive exam and MA paper. The 25- to 40-page MA paper is rooted in independent archaeological research.
FSU is a public state research university and a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in Tallahassee in 1851, the university is located on the state's oldest continuous site of higher education. It is a sea- and space-grant institution. The Carnegie Foundation classifies FSU as a research university with a very high level of research activity. It is one of the nation's top 15 universities receiving National Science Foundation funding in physical sciences research. The university's research facilities include the High-Performance Materials Institute and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. U.S. News & World Report lists FSU No. 70 overall, No. 37 for innovation, and No. 26 among public schools nationally.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,656 in-state; $18,786 out-of-state
#7 – University of Georgia
Master of Science in Archaeological Resource Management
The University of Georgia awards a Master of Science in Archaeological Resource Management. It is a professional, interdisciplinary, non-thesis degree program. It admits just six to 10 students per year. Students are expected to take four to five courses each semester. The curriculum covers domestic and global archaeology theory and productive relationships in cultural resource management in the public and private sectors. Course requirements include a course in Principles of Archaeological Resource Management, two seminars in Archaeology, and a culminating practicum. The practicum involves a supervised research project leading to the completion of a publishable professional report. Elective offerings include Indians of North America, Transitions from Foraging to Farming, and Zooarchaeology. The degree is designed to be completed in 12 to 15 months of full-time study.
UGA is a flagship public research university in Athens, Georgia. Founded in 1785, it is one of the oldest public universities in the United States. It is a land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant institution. The Carnegie Foundation classifies it as a doctoral university with very high research activity and selective admissions. In addition to its main campus in Athens, UGA operates learning locations throughout Georgia, a research center in Washington, D.C., and international centers in Costa Rica, England, and Italy. The university's main campus is home to the Museum of Natural History, which manages several collections of artifacts and specimens related to archaeology, biology, geology, and paleontology. U.S. News & World Report ranks UGA No. 46 nationally and No. 13 among public schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,830
#6 – Michigan Technological University
Master of Science in Industrial Archaeology
Michigan Technological University offers a Master of Science in Industrial Archaeology. The degree program builds skills in areas such as archaeological techniques, archival research, documentation, and spatial analysis. The core curriculum consists of four courses: Global Industrial History, Professional Development, Research Design, and Social Thought and Contemporary Issues. Students may also take courses in areas such as Deindustrialization and Urban Environments, Global Environmental History, and Heritage Management. Before their first fall semester, students participate in a summer field school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where they will excavate housing and industrial facilities. Students may culminate in their studies in a research thesis or independent study report. The degree program can be completed in twelve months of full-time study.
Michigan Tech is a public research university in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It was founded in 1885 with the original purpose of training mining engineers for the local copper mines. Today, the university offers programs in the areas of business, engineering, forestry, science, and technology. Its campus is located atop a bluff overlooking Portage Lake in rural Houghton, Michigan. Notably, the university holds the world records for the largest snowball and the largest snowball fight. U.S. News & World Report ranks Michigan Tech No. 136 nationally and No. 67 among public institutions of higher education.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,646
#5 – Tufts University
Master of Arts in Classical Archaeology
Medford and Somerville, MA
Tufts University awards a Master of Arts in Classical Archaeology. The degree program prepares graduates for doctoral study or careers in field archaeology or museums. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in Ancient Art, Archaeology, or Classics, and speak Latin and Greek at intermediate levels. Those who do not must complete additional coursework. All students must complete ten graduate courses in the areas of classical archaeology, ancient history, and advanced Latin or Greek. The program also includes fieldwork and laboratory work requirements. Students must complete either two-course papers or a thesis as well as an oral presentation. The program culminates in a comprehensive written exam.
Tufts is a private research university that emphasizes active citizenship, internationalism, and public service. It was founded in 1852 by Christian universalists as a nonsectarian liberal arts college. Today, Tufts operates campuses in the Boston metropolitan area, including the main campus on Walnut Hill in the towns of Medford and Somerville. It also has a satellite campus in the French Alps. The university is home to the oldest graduate school of international relations in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Tufts No. 45 for innovation, No. 27 overall, and No. 26 for best value.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $56,382
#4 – Cornell University
Master of Arts in Archaeology
Cornell University offers a Master of Arts in Archaeology. The intensive degree program is ideal for students seeking doctoral study and heritage management careers. The curriculum covers multidisciplinary studies in archaeological methodology and theory, historic preservation, material culture studies, and public archaeology. Students can choose from a wide variety of concentrations, such as identity, Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology, ritual and religion, or visual culture. Students are required to take courses in archaeological method or theory and the archaeology of a region. All students must complete a thesis research project and a comprehensive exam. All degree requirements should be completed within 12 to 18 months.
Cornell is a private Ivy League research university. It was established in 1865 as a multidisciplinary land-grant institution. It was founded by senators Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. Cornell gave the school its initial endowment and donated his farm as the site of the university. The main campus is in Ithaca, New York, and it operates satellite medical campuses in New York City and Qatar. The university's Goldwin Smith Hall includes a Dendrochronology Lab, in which researchers determine the age of ancient archaeological artifacts. U.S. News & World Report ranks Cornell No. 21 for both value and innovation and No. 16 overall nationally.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $55,188
#3 – University of Pennsylvania
Master of Arts in Mediterranean Archaeology
The University of Pennsylvania awards a Master of Arts in Mediterranean Archaeology. The terminal degree program delivers intensive training in the visual and material culture of the Mediterranean world. Each student must complete ten course units, and fieldwork experience typically completed in the Mediterranean region. Students must also demonstrate competency in an ancient language such as Greek or Latin and a modern language such as German or French. The curriculum culminates in a comprehensive exam and research paper. Students can expect to engage with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology throughout the program. The MAMA program spans two years of study. Graduates of the program are prepared for doctoral research and careers as museum curators, secondary school teachers, and cultural and heritage management firm supervisors.
UPenn is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was the first higher education institution in the United States to refer to itself as a university. It was home to the nation's primary collegiate business school, medical school, and student union. The university's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has participated in more than 400 research projects worldwide. Its most notable object is "Ram in the Thicket," a statuette excavated from The Great Death Pit of Ur. U.S. News & World Report ranks Penn No. 32 for innovation, No. 12 for best value, and eighth overall in the nation.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $55,584
#2 – Harvard University
Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies, Anthropology and Archaeology
Harvard University offers a Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies in the field of Anthropology and Archaeology. The degree program explores theory and research in anthropology and archaeology to deepen students' understanding of differences across cultures and eras. The curriculum consists of 12 courses, three of which must be completed on campus. Students can choose the remainder of their courses from both on-campus and online offerings. Course offerings include The Animal-Human Divide, Archaeology of Ancient China, The Opioid Epidemic, and Readings in Black Radicalism. Students also have the option to participate in a Harvard Summer School study abroad course. The curriculum culminates in the completion of a research thesis. All coursework must be completed within five years.
Harvard is a private Ivy League research university counted as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Established in 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It initially focused on training Congregational and Unitarian clergy, but it has never had a formal religious affiliation. The university has a main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the Boston metropolitan area. The university is further distinguished for having the largest university financial endowment and largest academic and private library system in the world. U.S. News & World Report ranks Harvard the second-best university in the United States.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $50,420
#1 – University of California, Berkeley
Master of Arts in Classical Archaeology
The University of California, Berkeley offers Grad School Hubâs top archaeological master's degree. The university's Master of Arts in Classical Archaeology is designed to be a pathway toward a doctoral degree in the field. All MA students must apply to the Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology program. Classical archaeology focuses explicitly on the archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. The curriculum offers courses in Latin literature; Greek drama, philosophy, and poetry; and the history and culture of ancient societies. Each student participates in archaeological fieldwork in the Mediterranean. Students can also work with the artifacts housed on the Berkeley campus.
Berkeley is a public research university and the flagship of the ten campuses of the University of California. It was founded in 1868 as the result of a merger between the College of California and the Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College. The university is noted for the historic liberal political activism of its students, particularly during the Vietnam War era. Berkeley's Department of Classics is a leading center of study in ancient Greco-Roman culture. The department's research centers include the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology, the Sara B. Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy, and the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,184 in-state; $43,176 out-of-state