Information on Applying

Information on Applying

To apply for the Historical Archaeology Graduate Program, please visit the Office of Graduate Admissions in person or on the web, but be aware that all parts of the application process are now handled online. In addition to the application form, you will need to provide a personal statement outlining interests and intent, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and GRE scores.  International applicants may have to submit TOEFL scores and other documentation. We also highly encourage, although do not require, the submission of a writing sample(s) that might help the Graduate Committee evaluate applicant writing, research, or analytical ability. The deadline for consideration for admission and funding is February 1 of each year for the coming Fall semester. We do not accept Spring admissions since our program is based on a cohort model.


PLEASE NOTE: The personal statement required for our program differs in structure from the general template included in the general admissions application. We seek only ONE essay (not two) totaling about 1,000 words covering (1) your personal, academic, and professional experiences that have prepared you for our graduate program; (2) your research and career interests and how these relate to our specific graduate program’s coverage and participants, and (3) the ways our training and degree will advance your career aspirations. Please be sure to obtain feedback from a faculty mentor on your draft of this statement, as these can be challenging to write.


Admission is competitive. We expect applicants to have a strong background in archaeology, which is normally provided with a baccalaureate degree in anthropology or archaeology and usually some fieldwork experience through university field schools or post-graduation work in cultural resource management or other contexts. These comprise the bulk of our successful admissions. However, undergraduate or graduate degrees in historic preservation, history, American studies, art history, classics, Egyptology, sociology, and allied fields are accepted if the applicant demonstrates sufficient background, potential, and understanding of the disciplinary approach in which they seek graduate training. We realize that archaeology/anthropology may not have been available to all undergraduates except as a minor field of study or as only a few courses and that some students “find” the field too late to have changed their undergraduate major anyway. Students seeking admission with these kinds of backgrounds will be competing for a slot in the program with those who have the requisite undergraduate training; therefore, we recommend boosting their background beyond the ongoing or already-awarded bachelor’s degree by taking undergraduate archaeology courses, especially an accredited field school, before applying.


The Historical Archaeology M.A. Program offers financial aid in the form of graduate assistantships, a rare opportunity for archaeology and anthropology master’s programs in the U.S. These funds come from the Office of Graduate Studies and the external grants and contracts (e.g., National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Wenner-Gren Foundation) frequently awarded to our faculty and research staff. Assistantships are awarded competitively to incoming and continuing students based primarily on merit criteria evaluated in your application materials, and these awards include full tuition remission, partial fee waivers, and paid research hours to work on Anthropology Department and Fiske Center projects or to serve as a teaching assistant. These assistantships require no separate application than the one for regular graduate admission, but please indicate in your personal statement if you are the rare applicant not interested in such an opportunity. Otherwise, you will be considered automatically and notified with or soon after an offer of admission is made.


Finally, we highly advise that you read the most updated “Graduate Handbook” prior to applying as it offers much more than guidance to already-admitted students. It can answer a host of questions you might have about the program’s history, curriculum, participants, opportunities, and miscellaneous other aspects.


For further information, please contact Professor Stephen Silliman, Graduate Program Director, at or 617-287-6854. You may also contact the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Anthropology, Barbara Davis, at or 617-287-6850. We also welcome any prospective student for a visit to campus to meet with our faculty, staff, and current students. So, please be in touch, and we look forward to potentially seeing your application.