UMass Boston

Graduate Anthropology Resources

Historical archaeology has acquired an increasingly global focus, attracting the attention of archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and heritage specialists to the potential that the material record of the last 1,000 years offers for addressing such broad issues as colonialism and its impact worldwide, the historical roots of globalization, indigeneity, the African Diaspora, the social history of the disenfranchised, and the scope and tempo of environmental change.

The MA program at University of Massachusetts Boston is unique among U.S. programs in focusing solely on historical archaeology. That focus is achieved with an unparalleled number of historical archaeologists engaged in graduate teaching and research, blending expertise in the faculty of the Department Anthropology and the senior research staff of the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research. Our researchers share a collective commitment to critical themes in historical archaeology and to ongoing field and laboratory research of diverse kinds, with an emphasis on material culture studies, environmental analysis, community-engaged research, and social justice outcomes. We encourage prospective and current students to read our “Anthropology Graduate Handbook 2024”  It answers many questions you might have as a program applicant and as an enrolled student, and it provides a clear guide on what to expect, what we value, and how to succeed in the master’s program.

The M.A. program is designed: (1) to prepare a foundation for a Ph.D. with coursework, research, and training and (2) to provide solid methodological, theoretical, and topical grounding for students with a terminal master’s degree seeking jobs in cultural resource management, museums, heritage work, and government agencies. The Historical Archaeology graduate program offers a wide variety of research projects, faculty expertise, and funding opportunities for our students. Our curriculum is designed to prepare students to be not only competitive PhD candidates, but also well-rounded professionals prepared for careers in archaeology and other related fields. Students have opportunities to participate in active research projects led by Anthropology faculty and research staff of the UMass Boston Anthropology Department.

Program Highlights

  • A 2-3 year program which provides training in laboratory and field methods, theory, epistemology, and research to prepare students for jobs in CRM, heritage management, and government, or further study toward a PhD.
  • A curriculum focused on Historical Archaeology and centered on three required classes plus five rotating classes, a course in advanced field methods during the summer, and a thesis based on original research for a total of 36 credits.
  • A program committed to promoting inclusivity, diversity, anti-racism, ethical conduct, and social justice.
  • Hands-on experience conducting research at all levels under the direction of nine researchers in nine active research laboratories.
  • Administered by the Historical Archaeology Graduate Program Committee, a core group of archaeologists from the department of Anthropology and the Fiske Center with input from department chair and support from the graduate program coordinator.

Student Reflections on the Program

  • Graduate student perspectives on the Historical Archaeology Program  
  • McNair scholar and Historical Archaeology M.A. alum, Dania Jordan

More Information

Our “Anthropology Graduate Handbook 2024” provides many details on the program and is available to all. Enrolled students need to consult this regularly to guide them through courses, faculty resources, program themes, community norms and values, assistantships, deadlines, and the thesis process. Prospective students can and should peruse this handbook to get a rich sense of what the graduate program offers and how it works.

Learn more about the Historical Archaeology MA degree itself and how to apply.

For questions regarding the Historical Archaeology Program, please contact Graduate Program Coordinator, Marisa D. Patalano at or Graduate Program Director, Dr. Heather Trigg at

Core Faculty/Staff Participants

The M.A. in Historical Archaeology is run as a joint effort between faculty in the Department of Anthropology and senior scientists in the Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research. The following faculty and staff serve as the core instructors, advisors, and assistantship supervisors. Others members of the Department and Center may occasionally serve on thesis committees or teach relevant graduate courses.

Daniela Balanzátegui
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts

Phone: 617.287.6851
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Expertise: Archaeology of the African Diaspora in Latin America, Community-based and Collaborative Archaeology, History of Slavery and Racial Thinking in Latin America, Afro-descendant Women and Archaeology.

Christa Beranek
Research Scientist I for the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research

phone: 617.287.6859
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Expertise: Eastern North American material culture studies, vernacular architecture, and archaeological writing.

Douglas Bolender
Research Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Phone: 617.287.6828
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Expertise: Archaeology of the North Atlantic, landscapes and geographic information systems, property and social inequality, Viking Age and medieval archaeology.

David B. Landon
Associate Director of the Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research

phone: 617.287.6835
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Expertise: Archaeology of historic and industrial sites, environmental archaeology, zooarchaeology, and archaeological science

Nedra K. Lee
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Phone: 617.287.5177
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Expertise: Historical archaeology, African Diaspora, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality

Stephen A. Mrozowski
University Professor of Anthropology

phone: 617.287.6842
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Expertise: Social theory, historical archaeology, environmental and urban archaeology

Stephen W. Silliman

Phone: 617.287.6854
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Expertise: Historical archaeology, colonialism, identity, labor, collaborative methods with indigenous communities, North American archaeology.

John Steinberg
Research Scientist II

phone: 617.287.6824
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Expertise: Prehistoric and historic archaeology, economic anthropology, methodology, regional analysis, remote sensing; Northern Europe, Northeast US

Heather B. Trigg
Research Scientist II, Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research

Phone: 617.287.6838
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Expertise: Social and economic effects of colonization, paleoethnobotany