Master of Arts in Anthropology: Archaeology

Archaeology is the branch of anthropology that studies the history of human societies through their material remains. The archaeology program at Wayne State offers students comprehensive methodological and theoretical training in anthropological archaeology and contemporary issues within the field.

Archeology students digging

Students benefit from numerous hands-on research and fieldwork opportunities within and beyond the university. Undergraduate students may major in anthropology with a focus in archaeology, or they may major in another field and minor in archaeology. Graduate students may pursue an M.A. or Ph.D. in anthropology with a focus in archaeology.

M.A. students may focus on archaeology generally or may pursue a more specific focus in historical archaeology / public archaeology or museum studies. Ph.D. students will work towards an anthropology degree with a special focus in an area of archaeology that is relevant to their interests and faculty expertise. Prospective students are encouraged to address questions about pursuing an M.A. degree vs. a Ph.D. degree to the department's director of graduate studies and the archaeology faculty.

Opportunities to participate in faculty research vary from year to year. In recent years members of the archaeology faculty have conducted archaeological research in Michigan, Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and other parts of North America (including numerous projects in Detroit and Southeast Michigan). The department also maintains a strong commitment to the archaeology of urban Detroit and offers fieldwork opportunities at local archaeological sites on a regular basis. The faculty encourages field research early in graduate training and competitive funding is available for student fieldwork.

View concentration requirements

Career and job prospects for archaeology students

What can you do with training in archaeology? Perhaps the more appropriate question is, what can't you do with training in archaeology?  Archaeology may seem like an unconventional career path, but it should not be mistaken for one with limited professional options! There are countless opportunities to apply training in archaeology and/or museum studies in a wide variety of professional settings.

Thanks to the extensive hands-on training and research experience our program offers, our undergraduate students who have focused on archaeology and/or museum studies (either as anthropology majors or archaeology minors) have been very successful in gaining admission to top, nationally-ranked graduate programs. Many graduates have gone on to jobs in museums, federal and local government positions, education, law, public policy, historic preservation, city planning, tourism, GIS-based work, engineering, and, of course, cultural resource management.

Our graduate students with archaeology and/or museum specializations are readily employed upon graduation in a wide range of jobs related to their training. These jobs are located in public and private sectors and include work in cultural resource management firms, federal and local governments, industry, national research laboratories, environmental consulting firms, publishing houses, educational institutions, law firms, non-profits, and museums. Employers of our recent graduates include: National Parks Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Commonwealth Heritage Group, Mannik & Smith Group, Ethnoscience Inc., PaleoWest, Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, The Henry Ford Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Science Center, Arab American Museum, City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools, Isle Royale National Park, River Raisin National Battlefield Park, Governor Warner Mansion, and many others. 

Some of our M.A. students decide to pursue doctoral degrees, and their training at Wayne State has gained them admission to competitive Ph.D. programs in archaeology, anthropology, and public history nationwide. 

Courses offered by archaeology faculty

Archaeological field methods, fall 2020

Students should refer to the Graduate Bulletin for corresponding ANT course numbers.

Graduate students may also take independent directed study courses with archaeology faculty to gain experience with topics that may not offered but are relevant to their professional development.

The Department of Anthropology also offers a minor in archaeology for undergraduate students.

Facilities

Three laboratories, housed in the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology, include facilities for mapping, computerized drafting, photography, spatial analysis, ceramic analysis, and statistical research, as well as important comparative collections. The museum contains fairly extensive collections of local historical and contemporary material culture that are available for student research.

Learn more about our research in archeology