Graduate Program

The archaeology curriculum is designed to highlight the three themes of our program. We have a commitment to analysis at different scales, from the study of everyday life and the household to the widest questions of social change.  We also want students to develop a set of methods and intellectual questions that cross the borders between the humanities and the sciences. Students must understand archaeology as part of the wider project of an integrated four-field program, powered by the intellectual differences and complementary approaches of an holistic Anthropology.


In the first year, students wishing to pursue Archaeology are required to take 322 Introduction to Archaeological Research Design and Methods.

In addition to the departmental core requirements, archaeology students are also expected to take the following classes:

  • 490  Gender in Anthropology
  • 490  Household Archaeology
  • 490  Archaeological Theory
  • 490  Buildings Archaeology
  • 490  Mapping People Space and Place
  • 490  Artifact and Text

First and second-year papers

  • By the end of the first year students are expected to have completed a first-year paper. The first year paper should focus on research that helps you move your PhD forward. 
  • By the end of the second year, they are supposed to have completed their second-year paper. The second-year paper should contain material of publishable quality, and it should be prepared in a format and language suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. 

Learn more about our requirements for first and second-year papers. By the end of the third year, students should have completed a draft of their dissertation proposal in the form of an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant. 

Field opportunities

In addition to course offered on the Northwestern campus it is strongly encouraged that students take advantage of ongoing archaeological research. 

Current field projects span the world. Northwestern archaeologists are studying:

Key interests and themes include inequality, gender, materiality, agency and practice, everyday and household life, landscapes, slavery, race after slavery, and the archaeology of capitalism.