University of Wisconsin–Madison

Archaeology: Masters Requirement

Prerequisites for Admission

Admission to the Archaeology area in the Anthropology Graduate Program is determined by the rules and regulations of the Graduate School and by the Archaeology faculty. Prospective students must send their application to the Graduate School Admissions Office and the Anthropology Department. See Admission for more details regarding application and admission. The deadline to apply is December 1.

Archaeology Faculty: Bunn, Clayton, Kenoyer, Kim, Schroeder

Requirements for the Master’s Degree Program

    • Student must complete a total of 30 credits of graduate course work, including three seminars (Anthro. 942) in archaeology.  Substitutions for the required seminars in archaeology are not normally allowed. (Incoming MA students must take at least two seminars as a part of the Ph.D. requirements, and these classes may be taken before or after the Qualifying Examination; see below.)
    • All students must pass the Qualifying Examination by the end of the second year or fourth semester. For incoming students with a MA degree, this exam is usually taken during the second semester of the first year, but students have the option to take it during the fourth semester of the second year. A student’s knowledge and ability to advance to the Ph.D. program is determined by this examination. This exam is intended to test general knowledge of archaeology and to ensure that graduate students have a broad and deep knowledge of the subject.
    • All graduate students are required to take the qualifying examinations. The written examination (by hand or computer) is in two parts 1) World Prehistory, and 2) Archaeological Methods and Theory, each four hours in length on two consecutive days. In preparation for the examination, students will use course work, readings in past and current literature, lectures and colloquia, and study groups. Although, there is no required reading list available for this examination; students may consult their major professor for suggested readings. Incoming students should take courses in areas of weakness or lack of knowledge along with graduate seminars to improve their basic comprehension of archaeology.
    • One question in the World Prehistory section will focus on a specific region of interest selected in advance by each student in consultation with his/her major professor. The following regions are suggested:Western North America; Eastern North America; Arctic/Sub-Arctic; South America; Mesoamerica, Lowland; Mesoamerica, Highland; Asian Pacific; East Asia, Central and South Asia; West Asia; Africa, Early Stone Age; Africa, Middle Stone Age and later ; Europe, Stone Age; Europe, Bronze/Iron AgeThe anonymous exams are evaluated by the departmental archaeologists in residence. Each part of the exam is ranked as 1) fail; 2) MA pass with no retake; 3) MA pass with retake; 4) Ph.D. pass.
    • Master’s thesis is not required. In lieu of a thesis, two term papers from graduate seminars in archaeology are to be submitted after the Qualifying Examination and by the end of the semester in which you wish to receive the MA degree. Students should consult with their advisor about which papers to submit. These papers must be submitted for approval by the archaeology faculty as evidence of research ability and will be archived with the student’s records. Once they have been approved the Master’s degree will be awarded. Note:the degree may not be awarded the same semester the qualifying exam is taken if all criteria are not met (credit requirement, degree deadlines, GPA, etc.)

Student Responsibilities in Archaeology

    1. Attend department colloquia and brown-bag lectures.
    2. Maintain desk and laboratory space.
    3. Know requirements for curriculum and degree from department and Graduate School.
    4. Provide a minimum of two weeks notice to faculty for requesting letters of recommendation, proposals, Preliminary Examination, etc. When requesting letters of recommendations include self-addressed and stamped envelopes.
    5. The doctoral dissertation should be delivered at least two months prior to the desired defense date.
    6. First-year students are responsible for arranging a room, audio-visual equipment, and speakers for the Brown Bag Lecture every Friday noon during both semesters.
    7. Dissertators taking Thesis Credits or Reading and Research Credits will provide a written statement of progress to their advisor by the last day of classes each Fall and Spring semester.