Archaeology | Department of Geography and the Environment


The Environmental Archaeology track provides a broad geographical, geological, and archaeological background that is geared toward preparing students for careers in cultural resource management and Ph.D. programs. The emphasis is on zooarchaeological and geoarchaeological research to understand past environments and cultures. We are closely affiliated with the Institute of Applied Sciences and the Environmental Science program.

Application to the Track

Applicants for the Environmental Archaeology track should apply to the Department of Geography's Masters of Science in Applied Geography (MSAG). To be accepted into the track, we expect a strong GPA and GRE scores, solid letters of recommendation, plus a statement of purpose that discusses research interests and long term career plans. Because financial support is limited, we are selective about the students we accept into the program.


Leveling Courses
As students who complete the program will receive a Masters of Science, it is expected that applicants to the Environmental Archaeology track will have a solid background in science. In particular, students should have at least one course in chemistry, biology, geology, and statistics. An archaeological field school is also required. If students have not taken these courses, they will be expected to take leveling courses in those subjects. Until these courses are passed with at least a B, students will be on probationary status in the program. These courses will not count toward the credit hours required of the masters degree.

ARCH 4810 - Archaeological Field School (6)
CHEM 1410 - General Chemistry I (3)
BIOL 2140 - Principles of Ecology (3)
GEOL 1610 - Physical Geology (3)
GEOG 3190 - Quantitative Methods (3)

The MSAG requires a minimum of 36 credit hours. They are divided among the following categories:

Required Core Courses (9 hours)

These courses are required departmental core courses. GEOG 5800 focuses on research design and culminates in a research proposal. GEOG 5190 emphasizes data analysis using multivariate statistics. A solid background in statistics and familiarity with statistical software packages is suggested before taking this course.

GEOG 5160 - Foundations of Geographic Thought (3)
GEOG 5190 - Advanced Quantitative Techniques (3)
GEOG 5800 - Research Design and Geographic Applications (3)

GEOG 5190 is the department's primary course to fulfill our MS program's analytical methods requirement. However, where individual student interests warrant, an alternative methods course may be selected by the major professor and must be approved by the Geography Graduate Committee.

Required Topical Courses (6 hours)

These classes provide students with the background necessary for specialization in environmental archaeology.

GEOG 5630 - Soils Geomorphology (3)
ARCH 5260 - Zooarchaeology (3)

Required Thesis Hours (6 hours)

GEOG 5950 - Master's Thesis

Content Areas (14 hours)

The remaining courses can be taken in archaeology, geology, GIS, biology, or other subject areas as determined by the advisor. In addition, students have an opportunity to take graduate classes in archaeology or geology at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas as part of an exchange program between UNT and SMU. Permission from the SMU instructor and your UNT advisor are required. Below is a sample of graduate classes offered at UNT.

ARCH 5260 - Texas Archaeology (3)
ARCH 5260 - North American Archaeology (3)
ARCH 5260 - Pacific Islands Archaeology (3)
ARCH 5260 - Old World Archaeology (3)
ARCH 5260 - Historical Archaeology (3)
GEOG 5960 - Special Problems (1-3) - These courses are tailored to student needs. Past topics include Lithic Analysis, Archaeological Method and Theory, and Biogeography.

GEOG 5520 - Intermediate GIS (3)
GEOG 5550 - Advanced GIS (3)
GEOG 5960 - Introduction to Remote Sensing (3)

BIOL 5051/5052 - Community Ecology (4)
BIOL 5900 - Animal Ecology (3)
BIOL 5260 - Principles of Evolution (3)
BIOL 5100 - Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment (3)

Minor Requirements (6 credits)

As part of the content area courses, students in this track may complete an optional minor, which consists of two courses (6 credits in total) with a prefix other than ARCH. Please consult with your major professor if you are interested in this option.


While the Masters of Science in Applied Geography provides for either a thesis or non-thesis option, archaeology graduate students are expected to complete a thesis. Developing research and following it through to completion in written form is required in both cultural resource management and academic careers. Thus, a thesis will better prepare students for either career path. The requirements for the thesis option in the Environmental Archaeology track are as follows:

Comprehensive Exam
The comprehensive exam is a written exam that must be passed before a thesis proposal can be defended. The exam consists of two sections: substantive and method/theory. There will be 4-5 questions per section to be taken over 1-2 days. For the substantive section, students will be given a reading list tailored to their thesis research. For the method and theory section, there is one common reading list for all students. A terminal fail is possible.

Thesis Proposal, Proposal Defense, and Thesis Defense
Before starting research, students are required to write a thesis proposal. The proposal should detail a problem to be addressed, its significance, the methodology to be used, and data to be collected. The body of the proposal should be no longer than 20 double-paged spaces.

Once the proposal is approved, the proposal defense can be scheduled. In the defense, students give a public presentation of their proposed research. This defense provides students with the opportunity to practice communicating their research ideas. Committee members will evaluate the presentation as well as the content of the proposal.

The thesis defense is conducted after a solid draft of the thesis has been approved. Just like the proposal defense, the thesis defense is a public presentation, this time of the final research product. After receiving comments during the defense, the committee will provide recommendations for improvement that will be required in the final draft of the thesis.

Financial Support

Typically two teaching assistantships are awarded in archaeology each semester. TAs teach the labs for ARCH 2800 - Archaeological Science, which is a non-majors science core class. For students with a background in physical geography or geology, teaching assistantships are sometimes also available to teach the labs for GEOG 1710 - Earth Science and GEOG 1610 - Physical Geology. In addition to teaching assistantships, research assistantships and hourly positions are occasionally available for students to work on on-going research projects.

For more information, contact Dr. Lisa Nagaoka, Dr. Steve Wolverton, or Dr. Reid Ferring.

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