Archaeological Studies program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor

Do you want to explore people and cultures of the past?

By studying archaeology, you can help deepen our understanding of humanity and apply this knowledge to help address problems of today.

UWL's Archaeological Studies major is one of the few comprehensive undergraduate degree archaeology programs in the U.S. and the only one in the Midwest. It is ranked No. 2 program nationally by College Values Online.

UWL's program is unique in providing undergraduates with hands-on training using cutting-edge methodologies and technologies at archaeological sites and world-class laboratory facilities. Also, UWL has attracted internationally-respected professors with research engagements around the globe who provide a rich array of international study and research experiences for students.

Archaeology jobs

Archaeology regularly ranks in the US News & World Report's Top 10 Jobs in Science. An archaeology degree can lead to specialized careers at museums and universities, as well as a variety of more common professional pursuits in environmental science, development planning, government agencies, K-12 education, business, law, forensic science, healthcare, non-profit organizations and more. See our archaeology careers page.

Archaeology careers

  • University professor
  • Museum curator/exhibits specialist
  • Cultural resource management
  • Environmental law
  • Medicine and forensic science
  • Historic preservation officer
  • Tribal preservation officer
  • Archaeological field and laboratory technician
  • State archaeologist
  • Preservation planner
  • National park service interpreter/ranger
  • Agency archaeologist (Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers)

What distinguishes UWL's archaeology program?

Find ample opportunity for archaeological research

UWL's program has a close relationship with the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center (MVAC), which conducts extensive research and public education activities throughout the tri-state region of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. MVAC’s facilities include lab space, equipment, and extensive archaeological collections, many of which become the focus of student research projects and internships. With close student-instructor interaction and intensive hands-on experience at MVAC, UWL students have ample opportunity for direct participation in all aspects of archaeological field and laboratory research.

Collaborate with internationally-engaged faculty

UWL's program has attracted internationally-respected professors with specializations in Egypt, the South American Andes, Mesoamerica, the Dominican Republic, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America. Active research engagement provides a rich array of international experiences for students, providing them with practical anthropological, archaeological and ethnographic methods.

Apply for archaeology scholarships, research grants

Scholarships are available for archaeology students including the Archaeology Scholarship, Maurice and Elizabeth Graff Scholarship and the Scott Carnes Memorial Scholarship. Many students also take advantage of the UWL Undergraduate Research Grant to help fund their own research in the U.S. and abroad.

Use cutting-edge technologies

Students are trained with cutting-edge technologies that are crucial in today's job market, yet few U.S. programs offer: geophysical and remote sensing equipment (ground penetrating radar, magnetometer, resistivity meter); precision laser mapping equipment; a complete photogrammetry array; 3-D scanning, photo, and video equipment; photographic drone for aerial photography and video.

Get financial support for lab, fieldwork

A substantial amount of financial support is available to students for part-and full-time lab and fieldwork during the summer and school year. This support ensures that students graduate with both academic and practical job preparation.

Facilities, spaces dedicated to archaeology

The UWL campus has an entire building dedicated to Archaeology, the Archaeology Laboratory Building. Two laboratory classrooms are dedicated to archaeology courses, an Environmental Archaeology Laboratory, a Photogrammetry and 3-D Technology Laboratory, an Ethnographic Research Lab, and a lab facility designated for special undergraduate research projects. UWL research resources are unmatched by any other undergraduate-only program anywhere in the world.

World-Class teaching collections

Exceptional teaching collections include human and primate osteological materials, a complete set of fossil hominid casts, ethnobotanical and zooarchaeological reference collections, and thousands of artifacts from all over the world.

Wide-array of international opportunities

The program offers an international field school in Serbia focused on the rise of complex society during the Bronze Age of Eastern Europe and an advanced field opportunity to conduct laboratory and field research in Egypt. Other opportunities include summer courses in the United Kingdom (Galway, Ireland and London, England) and Eastern Europe. Shorter-term study tours are available in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

Large department, diverse expertise

Department faculty include seven full-time anthropologists and archaeologists. The Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center employs an addition seven professional archaeologists. This size of faculty and staff is typical of much larger institutions than UWL, so the program has an extremely impressive array of diverse experts for an institution of UWL's size.

Alumni attest to program quality

Perhaps the best evidence of the quality of UWL's program is the extraordinary testimonials from graduates

Areas of study

Archaeological Studies

Archaeology is a discipline that studies the human past through the material remains that people left behind, such as artifacts, human burials or ancient ruins. Archaeologists gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be human and apply their knowledge to help solve problems of today.

Undergrad major Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Archaeological Studies Catalogfor Archaeological Studies Learn more for Archaeological Studies

Cultural Anthropology Emphasis

The cultural anthropology emphasis major is designed for students interested in learning more about cross-cultural international issues, and pursuing careers that address social problems at both local and global scales.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Cultural Anthropology Catalogfor Cultural Anthropology

Sample courses

ARC 250 Museum Studies This introductory course provides a history of museums, their goals and methods, administration, curation and exhibit techniques. Participants will be taking field trips to museums. Offered Occasionally.

ARC 280 The Incas and their Ancestors: Archaeology of the Andes This course reviews the prehistory and early historic periods of the Andean regions of South America. Emphasis will be placed on tracing the rise of civilization in the Andes which culminated in the Inca Empire and the extraordinary events that led to the conquest of the Inca by the Spanish conquistadors. Topics to be explored include the controversial evidence of early man in South America, the role of the ocean and mountains in shaping pre-hispanic life, the origin of domesticated plants and animals, and the rise of the complex societies of Moche, Tiwanaku, Wari, Chimu, and of course, the Inca. Offered Occasionally.

ARC 295 Pyramids, Temples and Towns! The Archaeology of Ancient Egypt This course is a survey of the archaeology of Ancient Egyptian civilization from an anthropological perspective and examines the Neolithic through Roman periods, ca. 5000 BC - AD 285. In this course, we will investigate the rise and development of Egyptian culture by examining selected archaeological sites and the material remains left behind by the ancient Egyptians. Using these materials, we will address specific topics of Ancient Egyptian civilization including the formation of the centralized state, sacred vs secular space, royal and private mortuary practices, urbanism, religion, roles of women in society, everyday life, history of Egyptian archaeology, recent discoveries, and future directions in the archaeology of Egypt. (Cross-listed with ARC/HIS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Every Third Semester.

ARC 303 Archaeology Lab Methods Taking a hands-on approach to analyzing and interpreting archaeological remains, the class will integrate lectures with demonstrations, experiments, and supervised laboratory projects. Study will focus on the potential for interpreting human life ways and adaptations to the environment from stone tools, ceramics, floral, and faunal remains. Prerequisite: ARC 100 or ARC 196 or ANT 101. Offered Occasionally.

ARC 311 European Prehistory This course introduces students to the rich archaeological heritage of Europe from its initial colonization by our hominid ancestors to the end of the Iron Age. Topics to be explored include the evolution and dispersal of early hominids and modern humans, hunter-gatherer societies, the adoption of agriculture, the development of social complexity, and the rise of Europe's first civilizations. Offered Occasionally.

ARC 335 Human Skeletal Anatomy and the Anthropological Study of the Dead This course is designed for students majoring in archaeological studies or related fields. The focus of this course is a detailed study of the human skeleton. Each student will be required to learn the anatomy of the human skeleton in detail. Also considered are methods of determining an individual's age, ethnic origins, sex, and stature from skeletal remains. The final three weeks of the course will be concerned with anthropological interpretation of the dead. Offered Occasionally.

ARC 345 Zooarchaeology This course is an introduction to the subdiscipline of zooarchaeology. It is a hands-on, experiential learning class in which students will develop skills to analyze animal bones from archaeological contexts, including species and element identification, quantification methods, mortality profile construction, and pathology assessment. Students will apply these techniques to address broader archaeological issues, such as hunting and herding strategies, origins of animal domestication, seasonality assessment, environmental reconstruction, and social/ritual use of animals and their products. Offered Occasionally.