The Master of Science in Anthropology program with an Archaeology concentration emphasizes field and laboratory data recovery, data processing and analysis, and interpretation protocols. This 42-credit, on-campus program capitalizes on the extraordinary facilities, extensive research opportunities, and vast methodological experiences of the teaching and research faculty to provide students with a unique, hands-on learning experience.

Students are required to master the field and laboratory protocols of contemporary “high-tech” archaeology in either terrestrial or marine environments. Within this track, students may choose topical specialties, such as material culture studies, within which they may further specialize in durable (i.e. lithics, ceramics) or non-durable (i.e. perishable) material remains. 

Additionally, students must select an areal focus (e.g. Eastern or Western North America, Europe, Latin America and Near East) within which they may further specialize in broad chronological periods (i.e. Historic or Prehistoric), depositional environments (terrestrial or marine), levels of socio-cultural complexity (i.e. hunter gatherers, horticulturalists, complex societies). In no case will students be encouraged to overspecialize; a general command of the traditional four fields will be strongly encouraged. 

All students in this track must demonstrate thorough familiarity with contemporary archaeological theory and its relationship to the general body of anthropological theory, at large.

Interested in studying forensic anthropology? Check out our graduate program in Forensic and Biological Anthropology

Program Overview

  • Options: Master of Science
  • Location(s): On campus
  • Credits: 42 credits
  • Duration: Minimum 21 months
  • Deadline: Rolling
  • Start term(s): Fall semester
  • Careers: Cultural resource management, federal and state agency careers

Grown out of our renowned undergraduate programs in anthropology and archaeology, this master’s degree program is committed to the education and training of the next generation of anthropological archaeologists. As a result of numerous grants for our work in the field, Mercyhurst has been able to invest heavily in state-of-the-art, high-tech equipment available for our graduate students to use as they conduct their analysis of both durable and non-durable samples. 

Facilities you may use include:

  • The Conservation Laboratory
  • Historical Artifact and Gravestone Laboratory
  • Perishable Artifact Laboratory
  • Ted Rathburn Osteology Laboratory
  • Lithic Artifact Analysis Laboratory
  • Archaeological Processing Laboratory

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Archaeology concentration curriculum in the Master of Science in Anthropology program, students will be able to:

  • Master knowledge of the fundamental concepts, theories, and field/laboratory methods in anthropological archaeology
  • Master knowledge of the background information, theories, and concepts pertaining to a specialist archaeological inquiry
  • Master knowledge of the theoretical and ethical underpinnings of anthropological archaeology
  • Knowledgeably apply relevant anthropological and archaeological information, theories, and concepts to new contexts
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills, including oral and written presentations of synthesized and analyzed archaeological materials and literature
  • Design and conduct archaeological research using appropriate techniques and procedures 

Course Requirements

As a four-field discipline concerned with the cultural and biological expressions of humanity past and present, anthropology is a diverse endeavor characterized by approaches drawn from both the sciences and the humanities. Therefore, a strong base in anthropological/archaeological core information, theories, concepts, and methodologies, as well as the ability to mobilize these resources critically and independently, form the skill set that we strive to impart to our students through this curriculum. 

Career Paths

Mercyhurst has a distinguished network of alumni working throughout the world in the fields related to anthropology. You can be confident that, should you successfully earn your master’s degree in anthropology from Mercyhurst, you will be well positioned to work in the field in careers such as cultural resource managers or anthropological archaeologists for a government-related entity. You will also be prepared to pursue advanced degrees (e.g., Ph.D.) in related fields.

Admissions Requirements

Prospective applicants for the anthropology/archaeology graduate program must fulfill the following admissions requirements. At the discretion of the director of the anthropology graduate program, acceptance may be granted to applicants who have not fulfilled all the admissions requirements provided they agree to the conditions of the acceptance prescribed by the director.

Admissions decisions are made by the program director after a holistic review. Students in this program begin only in the fall semester.

  • Completed (free) online application
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited school. Ideal candidates will have a very strong undergraduate record/degree in anthropology or a related field.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you’ve attended 
  • Current resume/curriculum vitae
  • Letter of intent (500-750 words) outlining the student’s education and career aspirations as well as any relevant and/or interesting life experience and any additional information the applicant feels would be important to include. 
  • Letters of recommendation (3). Applicants are required to supply three letters of recommendation that address their course performance, writing ability, fieldwork experience and performance, and potential for independent research.
  • GRE (General Test) scores
  • International applicants whose records are written in a language other than English must have their documents translated into English and a notarized statement attesting to the accuracy of the translations
  • International applicants whose primary language is not English must attain a TOEFL score of at least 79 on the internet-based exam OR an IELTS score of at least 6.5 OR a Duolingo English Test score of no less than 100.

Cost and Financial Aid

Mercyhurst graduate programs are competitively priced. Our goals it to provide you with an education that earns you an excellent return on your investment.

Tuition for the M.S. in Anthropology graduate program is $926 per credit (2019/20 school year rates)

Estimated total program cost for the M.S. is $41,000.

Learn more about available financial aid for graduate programs including:

  • Graduate Assistant (GA) positions
  • Graduate Employment (GE) positions
  • Veteran benefits
  • Employer reimbursement
  • Federal direct loans


Contact Us

Allison Byrnes
Staff Archaeologist, Lithic Analyst, Lecturer
Office: Zurn 69
Phone: 814-824-2581

Colleen Hordych
Graduate Enrollment Coordinator
Phone: 814-824-2297