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 several types of field schools in the disciplines of Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, and Environmental Science.  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 excavation, survey, documentation, analysis, cataloging, and conservation of archaeological sites and materials. Adventurous spirit required.

Prehistoric Archaeology: Most of humanity’s accomplishments predated writing. Delve deep into the trenches in search for the origins of technology, art, agriculture, social complexity, and the very beginning of our own species.

Classical Archaeology: Explore the rise and fall of vast empires that once stretched from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Uncover the expansive cities, forts, villas, and temples that still dot these ancient landscapes.

Biblical Archaeology: The massive Near Eastern mounds hide within the clues to contested narratives that still shape our world. Grab a trowel and a canteen, and join our experts as they shed new light on the ancient past.

Historical Archaeology: For those whom artifacts are simply not enough. 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.

Bioarchaeology: The dead tell fascinating tales. Use biological and other scientific methods to study archaeological human remains, in order to reconstruct past populations’ migrations, activities, diet, health, and death.

Cultural Resource Management: The past is a non-renewable resource. Gain training in the evaluation, management, protection, and preservation of cultural heritage sites, one of the fastest-growing specializations in archaeology today.

Environmental Archaeology: Find clues on how humans modified and interacted with their natural environment, and what these ancient landscapes can teach us about environmental changes today.

Underwater Archaeology: Much of our past heritage is still buried underneath the world’s oceans and lakes. Dive beneath the waves to discover, document, excavate, and preserve submerged settlements and fragile shipwrecks.

Digital Archaeology: Where the ancient past meets the digital future. Learn to develop tools and applications through the digitization, analysis, and visualization of data generated by field research and museum collections.

Ethnoarchaeology and EthnographySometimes the answers to past mysteries are found in the present. Expand your anthropological horizons by working closely with descendant communities and learn about traditional skills, practices, and rituals.

Conservation: Excavation is only half of the story. Acquire skills in the documentation, conservation, restoration, and reconstruction of ancient and threatened structures & artifacts found in sites, cities, museums, and labs.

Museum Studies: Museums are windows into the past. Learn about archaeological and ethnographic collections through their documentation, conservation, curation, presentation, and role in public education and outreach.

PaleontologyBy digging and studying fossils thousands to millions years old, paleontology allows us to explore a planet inhabited by now-extinct megafauna, insects, and plants. It’s like Jurassic Park, with real science. 

Environmental ScienceA broad field of study that encompasses the study of the natural world and the place of humans within it. The field brings together perspectives from several disciplines in order to approach and better understand complex, contemporary issues of our rapidly changing environment.


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 field sciences share 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. Paleontology field research largely uses the same methods. Our environmental science programs use a variety of research methods including, but not limited to, monitoring, sampling, and recording, often contributing to longer-term studies. Some field schools practice a combination of methods, while others engage in one but not the others.  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?

Attending students will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through our academic partner – Connecticut College. Connecticut College is a private, highly ranked liberal arts institution with a deep commitment to undergraduate education. Students will receive a letter grade for attending this field school as describe in the grading assessment and matrix on each syllabus. Connecticut College credits units are accepted by almost all universities across North America and the world.

Each university has its own set of policies how 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.

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