Choosing a Program
With many program types and locations available through the Institute for Field Research, we recommend that students ask five questions before deciding what program is best for them:
The Institute for Field Research offers five types of archaeology field schools. Offerings may very each year, but the following are the different types of programs you may consider:
Field Archaeology – Designed for students who wish to learn how archaeological data are recovered, collected, documented, and preserved in the field. This type of program allows students to participate in primary research alongside leading scholars and partake in well-established archaeological projects. It includes excavations and/or archaeological survey.
Science and Archaeology – Designed for students interested in analytical studies of archaeological materials. This type of program instructs participants the scientific principles of data acquisition using analytical instruments and the analysis of data generated by these instruments in the field.
Ethnoarchaeology – Designed for students interested in understanding the material culture of the past through the study of contemporary object production and use in the present. Students will interact with both objects and their meaning and significance in living cultures.
Conservation – Designed for students interested in archaeological conservation or conservation science. These programs feature hands-on conservation of archaeological materials as they are lifted from original archaeological context. They may also include analytical work to study the material properties and decay processes of archaeological materials, also known as taphonomic processes.
Travel Study – Designed for students who are interested in broadly learning about ancient cultures on-location. This type of program integrates lectures, readings, and a wide range of site visits in order to explore the evolution, adaptation and histories of cultures in a specific region.
One of the important components that should influence student decision is the geographical location of the field school. While the discipline of archaeology shares similar methodologies across the world, some regional variations do exist. Furthermore, the cultural histories of a specific region may be more appealing than others. Language, food tradition, climate, altitude and latitude are all factors worth considering.
The mainstays of archaeological data recovery are survey and excavations. Some field schools practice both methods, while others engage in one but not the other. It is worth finding out what methods each field school uses so students may choose a methodology that appeals to their needs and interests.
Archaeological approaches to the study of past human behavior are plenty and diverse. Some students gravitate to Processual, Post-Processual or Eclectic archaeology. Others find appeal in analytically and methodologically specialized sub-fields, such as bioarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, and zooarchaeology. Still others are simply interested in the theory and methods underlying general field archaeology. Modern archaeology is an interdisciplinary and collaborative enterprise, but not all projects have the full range of specialists on staff during each season. Students should carefully read the syllabus of specific field schools and determine if the program pursues a theoretical and/or methodological approach that meets the student's needs and interests.
The IFR is partnering with Connecticut College – a private, highly ranked Liberal Arts college on the East Coast – to offer each attending student eight semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units). All IFR programs are Upper Division classes with a minimum of 192 instructional hours.
Each university has its own set of policies whether to accept outside credit units. In general, decisions are made based on the syllabus and its academic rigor, your major and academic standing, whether you are a transferred student, and/or your GPA. Please consult with your school adviser about the ability to transfer credit units to your home institution prior to enrolling in this or any other field school program.
The Institute for Field Research programs range in price depending on location. In general, our North America programs are least expensive compared with international ones. Program tuition does not cover airfare to and from the field. To assist with financing, the IFR offer numerous scholarships and links to external grants (to learn more, click here for a rapid link to the “Scholarships” section of our website). We also work closely with students to secure financial aid packages.
We encourage students to explore all these options to help finance a field school program.