Archaeology is one of three programs (with Physical Anthropology and Sociocultural Anthropology) in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University. The archaeology program offers graduate and undergraduate training in a broad array of topical and geographic areas of study. We emphasize the combination of strong theoretical grounding in anthropology and archaeology with topical subspecialization to produce well trained, versatile, and marketable Ph.D. students. We also provide the opportunity for geographical concentration in Old and New World prehistory with on-going research taking place in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Italy, Scotland, and numerous locations in the United States. Our program is highly interdisciplinary: faculty and students work with scholars in different fields at Washington University and around the globe to produce a better understanding of human culture and history.
Within the archaeology program there are areas of special concentration reflecting faculty interest and special research resources. We have highly regarded programs in paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, and geoarchaeology. Current faculty research is focused on the Mississippi Valley, the Southwest (including northern Mexico), Eastern Africa, and the Andean Highlands of South America. Faculty in the program share interests in understanding the origins of early plant and animal domestication, the study of hunter-gatherer societies, and the emergence and evolution of socio-economic complexity.
The program admits only a small number of graduate students each year, but those who are admitted are fully funded for coursework and dissertation writing--typically 5 years. Students obtain funding from outside agencies to support their dissertation research. Students returning from field work are provided with one or two years of Teaching Assistantships and may apply for a one year Dissertation Fellowship. Graduate Students usually are provided offices in McMillan Hall. The Graduate Student Lounge provides internet access, graduate student mailboxes, and a collegial environment for students from all sub-disciplines. Students have access to computers and statistical programs in the Social Sciences Computing Facility and University Computer Laboratory, as well as in various laboratories in the Department of Anthropology. Graduate students at Washington University have excellent health-care benefits and receive extensive support in their transition to graduate school. For further information on resources available to graduate students please visit the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences website.
The small size of the graduate program allows faculty to tailor student training as required by the research project and the students' needs. Students are encouraged to develop their own research interests while taking advantage of the numerous resources offered in the Anthropology Department and affiliated departments and interdisciplinary programs. We emphasize training in grant writing: a very high percentage of our students receive NSF dissertation improvement and other competitive grants. Students are encouraged to present their work at national and international conferences and to publish in peer-reviewed journals. Ph.D. graduates of the Department of Anthropology have been successful in the academic job market where they find that their combination of broad training and specialized research skills gives them a competitive edge.