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:

1. What type of program best fits my needs?

The Institute for Field Research offers seven types of archaeology field schools.  Offerings may vary each year, but the following are the different types of programs you may consider:

Field Archaeology – Gain hands-on field experience with survey, excavation, documentation, analysis, cataloging, and conservation of archaeological sites and materials.

Architecture / Conservation – Acquire skills in the documentation, conservation, and reconstruction of ancient and historical architecture and artifacts in sites, cities, museums, and in the lab.

Ethnohistory / Ethnography – Explore the traditions, material culture, and historical documents of contemporary people to reconstruct their lifeways, technologies, practices, and politics.

 Bioarchaeology – Use biological and other scientific methods to study archaeological human remains, in order to reconstruct past populations’ migrations, activities, diet, and health.

Historical / Classical Archaeology – Study cultures and people of the ancient and more recent past, for which we have detailed written and pictorial records in addition to material remains.

Cultural Resource Management – Train in the evaluation, management, protection, and preservation of cultural heritage sites, one of the fastest-growing specializations in archaeology today.

Museology / Museography – Learn about archaeological and ethnographic collections in museums through their documentation, conservation, curation, presentation, and role in public outreach and education.

2. What region of the world is interesting to me?

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.

3. What method or theoretical perspective do I find intriguing?

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.

4. How many credit units will I earn and will my university accept them?

The IFR signed an affiliation agreement with UCLA Extension in 2015. UCLA is a top ranked research institution recognized globally as a leading university (see the National Academy of Sciences rankings). Through this agreement, students receive 12 quarter credit units (equivalent to 8 semester units) for attending any of our field schools. UCLA Extension courses provide unit credits toward bachelor’s degrees across all campuses of the University of California and the California State University System. They may also be accepted at many academic institutions nationwide.

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 transfer 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.

5. How will I pay for the program?

The Institute for Field Research programs range in price depending on location.  In general, our North American programs are the least expensive compared to those outside of North America.  Program tuition does not cover airfare to and from the field.  To assist with financing, the IFR offers numerous scholarships and links to external grants (to learn more, click here for a link to the “Scholarships” section of our website).

In addition to applying for our scholarships, we encourage students to explore external scholarships and financial aid from their home institution to help finance a field school program.