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 Graduate Handbook

Masters Degree in Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management

Anthropology Program
Utah State University
Logan, Utah
August 2018



The Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology offers a structured, two-year, graduate curriculum leading to the Master of Science degree in Anthropology with a specialization in Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management (CRM).

Cultural resource management archaeology provides industry and government agencies with an evaluation of heritage resources that by law have to be “taken into account” prior to the alteration of our public landscapes. CRM is now an institutionalized element of the environmental management industry in the United States and many other countries. Archaeologists identify and record all prehistoric and historic cultural resources from ancient villages and camps, to pioneer cabins, 19th century gold mines, and human skeletons. Archaeologists help industry and agencies find ways to protect what is of value by avoidance and occasionally by mitigation, and they facilitate land management. Federal and State laws and regulations govern the practice of archaeology by issuing permits, and a national Register of Professional Archaeologists certifies professional standards. The minimum degree requirement for the permits and the professional registry is a Master’s degree.   

Senior archaeologists working in CRM realize the need for graduate training to be more than applied archaeology. In order to produce career-path archaeologists, graduate training needs to include adequate knowledge of the scientific research contexts of archaeology, and experience in the conduct of research to prepare students for careers, and not just as technicians in a transient labor force. 

Recommendations of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) for the “New Graduate Curriculum” include: 

  • Curricula that recognize the broad scope of CRM: legal/regulatory environment, business, archaeology, ecology, natural sciences.
  • Emphasis on written and verbal communication.
  • Experience in the preparation of proposals and research designs.
  • Basic applied field techniques including survey, mapping, GPS, and sampling.
  • Applied techniques in data analysis and collections processing/management.
  • Experience in report preparation.
  • Structured internships with CRM companies and/or government agencies.

The American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) finds the following goals important:

  • The establishment of graduate programs serving CRM.
  • Knowledge of the legislation and regulatory environment.
  • Knowledge of Geographic Information Systems.
  • Knowledge of quantitative methods.
  • Writing skills and CRM reporting.
  • An intensive, rigorously researched and comprehensive Master’s thesis signals the importance of integrating research and applied skills.

The graduate program in Anthropology at Utah State University responds to the changing needs of archaeology and to recommendations of archaeologists in the CRM industry. The Master’s degree will also prepare students intending to pursue the Ph.D. at other institutions.

This handbook is a guide to navigating Utah State’s Master’s program in Cultural Resource Management Archaeology. Use this text as a first reference tool and basis for further inquiry with your advisors. It is your responsibility as a graduate student to maintain your program in accordance with departmental policies and to meet relevant deadlines. All questions about departmental graduate policies should be directed to the Chair of your Supervisory Committee, the Graduate Program Director, or the Anthropology Program Director.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that all information contained in this handbook is meant to be used as guidelines only. The handbook is periodically updated, but policy changes can arise abruptly. Thus, this guide may not reflect current University, School of Graduate Studies, Department, or Anthropology Program policy. Please verify all details with your advisor or Supervisory Committee chair before making any important decisions!

The School of Graduate Studies website is a useful reference for current policy:  (
The USU General Catalog, School of Graduate Studies is a detailed resource:  (

Admission Process

Students are admitted for fall semester only, and during a single cycle of admissions after the application deadline of February 1st each year. Applications must be made using the online application at the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) website: ( Advice: Begin the application process at least two months prior to the deadline. Do not wait until the last few weeks before the deadline to apply. 

Application Requirements and Procedures

Applications for graduate study in Cultural Resource Management Archaeology must include the following:

  • Letter of intent identifying your background and professional objectives (500 - 1000 words). This is important. It should not just be a biography, but an evaluation of your professional progress, and your educational and career plans. It should be a polished piece of writing.
  • Resume/vita.
  • Transcripts of all colleges and universities attended. Allow sufficient time for these to reach us.
  • GRE scores for quantitative and verbal exams from the testing service. Allow at least a month for results from this test to be delivered to USU. USU employs a minimum of the 40th percentile on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE for admission. Exceptions are possible, but this is the university guideline.
  • The names and emails of three references. The School of Graduate Studies will contact them for letters.
  • If you have a publication, you may send it as a writing sample. Please, no long CRM reports.
  • International students should take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and have the score sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies by the testing service.
  • The online application should accept supplementary materials (pdf works best). Try to submit items online. If that fails, you may submit items to the Graduate Director: (

Applications are reviewed by a committee of the archaeologists in the Anthropology Program. Determinations include acceptance as a matriculated student, provisionally/non-matriculated acceptance, and no acceptance. Acceptance as a non-matriculated student may be dependent on deficiencies in the application for graduate study or a need for prerequisite coursework. For example, we require that all entering students to complete an Archaeology Field School, or show equivalent archaeological field education, not just field experience.

Once any deficiencies are satisfied, a student is moved to matriculated status. Applicants accepted as matriculated students are ranked for the award of financial aid in the form of Graduate Research Assistantships (GAs) and tuition awards administered by the Anthropology Program. Decisions about Graduate Research Assistantships held by individual faculty members are decided by those faculty members (see section “Financial Information”). Graduate Students are notified of the committee’s decisions via email and letter according to the schedule below.

Schedule of Application and Notification

February 1 of the year you plan to begin graduate study. All components of your application must be complete by this date. Please begin the application process early enough to allow time for all of your supporting materials to arrive by this date. It is a good idea to begin in November.

March 15 You will receive initial notice of acceptance/non-acceptance, and a decision on financial aid from the Anthropology Program or possibly from an individual faculty member. If you do not receive an offer of financial aid, you will be of your ranking on the list of students seeking financial aid. This way you can gauge the likelihood of aid should a higher ranking student not accept an offer.

April 15 This is the final date for you to notify us of your intentions. If you were offered financial aid, and decide not to attend USU, or you do not respond, that aid will be directed to another student after this date.

Do not hesitate to ask questions about the application process and about the graduate program. Please know however, that an application must be submitted before any decision can be made regarding acceptance, funding, prerequisites, and transfer credits. Nor can we estimate or negotiate your admission prospects in the absence of an evaluation of your application.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credits come in two forms. 

  1.  A split form to credit coursework taken as a USU undergraduate. For USU undergraduate students who are taking graduate level courses, there is the opportunity to count those toward graduate study instead of the undergraduate degree. Courses cannot count for both. Students must have a B average cumulative GPA, be within 30 hours of graduating, and can transfer no more than 9 credits. An application for a Split Form must be completed and for the form to be processed an application for Graduate Study must be on record in the School of Graduate Studies. For details consult with the Graduate Program Director and see the USU General Catalog, School of Graduate Studies: (
  2. Graduate credit from another institution is dependent on the Program of Study of each student. Thus, it is unusual to determine if credits can be transferred prior to the formation of a Supervisory Committee because they will evaluate any proposal to transfer credits. To replace a required course, the transfer credit must be from a substantially similar course, with no grade lower than a B. No credits older than 8 years can be transferred. The credits may not have been used for another degree, and they can only be used for one USU degree. Up to 12 credits can be transferred, but they cannot count to satisfy the graduate course residency requirement of 24 credits for a Master’s degree.


Students are advised by the Graduate Program Director until you identify a faculty member you ask to serve as the Chair of your Supervisory Committee. We urge students to interact with all faculty to seek advice. It is a good idea to make contact with us even before you arrive in Logan or begin graduate study. The Graduate Program Director will assist you until you have a Supervisory Committee (no later than the beginning of the second semester). 

A graduate welcome and orientation is held in the first two weeks of fall semester for everyone to meet (if you have not already done so), to review how the program works, and to answer questions. You will meet the other members of your graduate cohort, and begin to build a sense of community among new graduate students, experienced graduate students, and faculty.

You should see your advisor often, and meet with other anthropology faculty members. Near the end of the first semester, or very early in the second semester, you should form your Supervisory Committee and a Program of Study (see section “The Matriculation Process” for details about these things). You should schedule a committee meeting soon after you form your Supervisory Committee.


Anthropology Office

Anthropology is located in Old Main Rm. 245 and includes a front office with a copier, a conference room/library, and faculty offices. These facilities are overseen by our Staff Assistant (435) 797-0219, and supported by an Undergraduate Peer Advisor. 

Departmental Office

Anthropology is part of the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology. The department office is in Old Main Rm. 224 and is staffed by Corinna Knowles at (435) 797-2504 (

Mail and Email

Faculty and graduate student mail boxes are in Main 245J, the store/fridge room in Anthropology. Mail to students should be addressed:

Student Name 
Anthropology – 0730 
Utah State University 
Logan, UT 84322-0730

All students are automatically assigned an “aggiemail” email account. The format is:

If you prefer another email address, you will need to change that in your student Banner account. This can be done through the “My USU” portal.

Archaeology Labs

Anthropology has three labs for archaeology. Two are in Old Main, the “wet” and “dry” labs, and these are teaching/classroom labs. The third is located in the Vet Sciences building.

The labs contain computers, tables, and locking cabinets. The “dry” lab (Old Main Rm. 246) contains teaching artifact collections, computers, maps, and table space for your projects. The “wet” lab (Old Main Rm. 248) contains skeletal teaching collections, plant macrofossil collections, cataloging equipment, microscopes, balances, and other small lab tools. The Vet Sciences building is the best place for active research where specimens need to be spread out. Use of the Vet Sciences building is managed by Drs. Byers, Finley, Freeman, and Lambert.

Student Offices

Students may be assigned a desk as personal workspace in the Vet Sciences Building. Desk space will be assigned based on availability and will be available for no more than a student’s first three years in the program. Students with a desk who have yet to graduate by the end of their third year will need to find other workspace. Graduate students will be issued and will be responsible for keys necessary to access these spaces. Use of the student offices should be considered a privilege and work spaces should be maintained in a clean and professional manner.

Museum of Anthropology

The Museum of Anthropology is a teaching museum devoted to educating USU undergraduate and graduate students, the USU community, and the people of northern Utah and surrounding areas about the fields of anthropology and museum studies. The museum offers myriad opportunities for hands-on learning, including but not limited to coursework in museum studies, a 24-credit museum studies certificate that can be pursued by undergraduate and graduate students in conjunction with an anthropology (or other) degree, docent volunteer opportunities; internships (some unpaid, some paid), and work study and standard hourly jobs. Students interested in museum opportunities of any and all kinds should contact museum Director and Curator Dr. Molly Boeka Cannon ( or (435) 797-7545 or the Anthropology Program Staff Assistant (435) 797-0219 for more information. The museum web site is also a good source of information: (

Spatial Data Collection Analysis and Visualization Lab (SDCAV)

In 2009, the USU Anthropology Program received $600,000 from the National Science Foundation and other sources to purchase an integrated system of instruments to facilitate the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of anthropological spatial data at a variety of scales. Field equipment includes ground-penetrating radar, resistivity, and magnetometer systems; GPS units with sub-meter accuracy, and a robotic total station. The geospatial laboratory also houses x-ray, video microscope, and three-dimensional scanning devices, as well as a GISequipped networked computers (and large-format scanners and printers) for state-of-the-art processing and dissemination of data. USU anthropology students and faculty members, including RCDE constituents, will be the primary users of the instruments and lab, which will enhance research capacity and allow us to educate students in the use of equipment they may encounter in careers in the private and government sectors of archaeology. Courses in the application of these tools are taught and all students are invited to be regular users of the SDCAV lab. The Director of the lab is Dr. Molly Cannon (

Preparing Financially for Graduate School

A significant contributor to success in graduate school is financial preparedness. The costs of tuition, especially for non-residents, fees, and books (beyond those required for classes) really add up. Tuition/fees for a full graduate course load of 9 credits (3 classes) per semester is about $8300 for nonresidents and $2700 for residents. Books and photocopying costs can easily be several hundred dollars per semester. Then of course, there is housing, utilities, food, insurance, and the list goes on. Rental costs in Logan are typically $400-800 a month plus utilities. On campus apartments for graduate students in “Aggie Village” are range from $1600-1800 per semester, including utilities.

Students with Graduate Assistantships, or who work to help pay for school should count on no more than 20 hours of work per week in order to be successful with a full graduate course load of 9 credit hours per semester (3 classes). Considerations such as commuting, family obligations, etc. may indicate a plan for a smaller course load.

All this means that planning ahead to finance graduate study is important to your success. Once you begin graduate school, University regulations apply that are designed to encourage timely completion of your degree.

Leaves of absence are available, but are allowed only under restricted circumstances (see pg. 20). If a leave is granted, a Continuous Registration fee of $100 per semester is still assessed. 

An Important Note (that you must remember)

You are required to register for 3 credits every semester through the semester you defend your thesis/paper and complete final revisions, approval, library deposition, and all fees and paperwork. This applies to semesters when you are not taking classes, regardless of whether you are just taking a break or have finished your required coursework. It applies whether you live in Logan or not. Further, if you give up your Utah residency prior to finishing your degree, you will be charged nonresident tuition for those 3 credits. Leaves of absence (see page 20) are granted only for specific circumstances so please be advised you will be paying for three credits during semesters in which you are just taking a break. Try to avoid this. 

Graduate Assistantships, Fellowships, Scholarships, and Tuition Awards

Graduate Research Assistantships

for one semester or one academic year (two semesters). Awards are typically for a .5 FTE (half time) at about $800 a month. The Graduate Research Assistantships include tuition and about 80% of the costs for student health insurance. Graduate Research Assistants must register for 9 credits per semester, and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Graduate Research Assistantships are only available for a student’s first two years regardless of how long the student plans to take for degree completion.

The applied nature of our Master’s degree makes all Graduate Research Assistantships in the area of research rather than teaching. Our Undergraduate Teaching Assistantships provide classroom support. Therefore all Graduate Research Assistants will be assigned research-related tasks.

Graduate Research Assistantships may also be available as a result of grants awarded to anthropology faculty. These are arranged on an individual basis with the faculty member in question. Thus, it is a good idea to contact anthropology faculty members to inform them of your interests and to identify possible sources of financial aid they may have. The stipend of these awards is the same as University Graduate Research Assistantships and they are offered for either one semester or one academic year (two semesters). They also include health insurance. Directors of funded research projects have total responsibility for selecting their Graduate Research Assistants.

Tuition Awards

are usually automatic with all Graduate Assistantships. However, all students are expected to become Utah residents during the first year, and no awards for the nonresident portion of tuition can be made after the first year. Anthropology faculty may nominate a first-year graduate student for other awards. The Vice President for Research Fellowship includes a stipend of $15,000 and tuition. You may also be eligible to apply for the Martin Luther King Fellowship ($7,000), which also includes tuition funding. For more information on graduate fellowship funding see: (

Additional Financial Aid

and scholarships are available through the University, either through the Office of Financial Aid or by notice of the Anthropology faculty.

All graduate students are reviewed in the spring of each year to determine future allocations of Graduate Assistantships, Scholarships, and Tuition Awards. If you do not receive assistance the first year, it does not mean you are excluded from winning one in your second year. If you receive one the first year, it does not guarantee an assistantship in your second year.

Hourly employment from faculty contracts and grants may also be available as a result of grants and contracts awarded to Anthropology faculty. This is arranged on an individual basis with the faculty member in question.

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program provides jobs for graduate students with financial need, allowing you to earn money to help pay education expenses. You must be enrolled a minimum of half time. How much you earn depends on your skills and experience and the number of hours you work (usually a maximum of 20/week). USU student-employees are paid once a month (usually on the 10th) as wages are earned. To apply for Work-Study you must submit an Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Work-Study funds are limited and usually limited to early applicants with significant need. Students must have marked on their USU Financial Aid Application that they were interested in Work-Study. If you are awarded Work-Study you need to: 

  • Accept your award on USU Access.
  • Locate the job you would like to apply for. 
  • Obtain a blue referral slip from the Student Employment desk (TSC 106) for the appropriate job.
  • Contact the employer by phone or in person to set up an interview.

For links to the Federal Work-Study application, award acceptance via USU Banner/Access, and jobs available go to: (
Explore other Financial Aid options by completing a USU Financial Aid Application: (

Health Insurance

Graduate students taking 1 or more credits have the opportunity to enroll in affordable health insurance. You may enroll on a voluntary basis. Students must actively attend classes for at least the first 31 days after the date for which coverage is purchased.

We highly recommend this health insurance, especially if you have a Graduate Research Assistantship, since it subsidizes about 80% of the cost.

To investigate the health insurance, enroll, or apply for a waiver go to: .

Residency and Tuition

We cannot overemphasize the need to follow state law and regulations for establishing residency during your first year. Begin this process well before you arrive for your first year of school and do not attempt to circumvent the system. It is regulated by state law.
For the most up to date information go to:

All nonresident students who do not gain Utah residency by the beginning of their second year in Graduate School will be charged nonresident tuition, even if you have a tuition award. Should this happen, students with tuition awards will be responsible for paying the non-resident portion of their tuition out of pocket. This is because nonresident tuition awards only apply to the first 12 months of graduate study.

The basic criteria for establishing residency for tuition purposes are:

  • Be a US Citizen or have Permanent Resident Status.
  • Live in Utah for 12 continuous months. Must show evidence of physical presence in Utah for 12 months (school, a mailing address, and employment are best - documentation required). 
  • Do not leave the state for more than 30 days at a time, unless you are working on your internship. Give careful consideration to where you take summer employment in archaeology, and what you will need to do to maintain Utah resident status.
  • Not be claimed as a dependent on tax returns by anyone not a resident of Utah (documentation required). 
  • Obtain a Utah driver's license, Utah vehicle registration, and voter registration at least three months before your first term of expected residency. In other words, ASAP.

Some Advice: Begin the process to gain Utah residency immediately upon arrival. Go to the Admissions Office in building TSC102 early in your career here to establish a relationship with them. There are some other “little things” you can do to facilitate residency beside what is listed on the above web site, including register to vote (even if there is no election), save rental lease agreements, utility bills, get a bank account. If you do summer fieldwork you must return to your residence in Utah every 30 days. The only exception to this is work on an internship that is out of state. If you have an outof-state internship contact Admissions and get this set up beforehand.


Anthropology Faculty

Molly Boeka Cannon

 Director, Spatial Data Collection, Analysis and Visualization Lab. Deputy Director and Curator, Museum of Anthropology. (Ph.D. University of Nebraska 2013). Museum studies, GIS, spatial analysis.

David Byers

Associate Professor, Graduate Program Director. (Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Utah 2006) Zooarchaeology, site formation, stable isotope analysis, upland/alpine archaeology of Western U.S., coastal foragers of Jamaica, Paleoecology, Paleoindian studies and Human/Proboscidean interaction.

Kenneth P. Cannon

Research Assistant Professor/Director USU Archeological Services. (Ph.D. University of Nebraska 2008). Hunter-gatherers, mammal biogeography, cultural resource management; Great Plains, Intermountain West, Rocky Mountains.

Henri Jean-François Dengah II

Assistant Professor. (Ph.D. in Biocultural Medical Anthropology, University of Alabama 2013) Medical anthropology, cognitive anthropology, virtual ethnography, urban anthropology, epidemiology, religious movements, mental health, dissociation, stress, gender roles, mixed methodology, social statistics, technology, Brazil.

Judson Finley

Associate Professor, Program Director. (Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washington State University 2008) Geoarchaeology; Archaeometry; Paleoecology; Environmental Change; Human-Environmental Interactions; Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology; Cultural Resources Management; High Plains and Rocky Mountains.

Jacob Freeman

Assistant Professor. (Ph.D. in Anthropology, Arizona State University 2014) Robustness, Evolutionary Ecology, Low-level food production, Agricultural specialization, Comparative Ethnoarchaeology, Hunter-Gatherer archaeology, Southwest archaeology, Utah archaeology, Macroecology, Sustainability.

Bonnie Glass-Coffin

Professor. (Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles 1992). Medical anthropology, shamanism, religion, gender, applied anthropology, community development; Latin America, Great Basin/Rocky Mountain region.

Patricia M. Lambert

 Professor. (Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara 1994). Skeletal biology, bioarchaeology, paleopathology, prehistoric warfare; North America, Peru.

Anthropology Staff

Tim Riley

Curator of Archaeology, USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum. (Ph.D. Texas A&M University 2010) North American archaeology, museum studies, paleoethnobotany, palynology; Colorado Plateau, Chihuahuan Desert.

Admission:  3.0, Minimum GPA

Graduation:  3.0, Minimum GPA

Minimum Credits:  33; 6 credits count toward Plan A; 3 credits count toward Plan B

The requirements for the Master’s degree in Cultural Resource Management Archaeology include required core courses, a minimum of one elective course in a method and research area and an internship experience. The degree can be pursued via a Plan A thesis or Plan B paper/creative works. All Master degree students must pass a written Comprehensive Examination in their second year. All students complete original research in the form of a Thesis or Research Paper, and a public defense/colloquium reporting that research.

Field School

Field school or equivalent experience is required of all students seeking admission to the MS CRM Archaeology degree program at Utah State University. If you have not had this, you may be admitted as a nonmatriculated student until this requirement is completed.

Core Courses (20 Credits)

ANTH 5340/6340 Archaeology of the Desert West (3) (Finley) 
ANTH 6350 Archaeological Theory (3) (Byers) 
ANTH 6360 Research Design and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (3) (Freeman) 
ANTH 6370 GIS in Archaeology (3) (Cannon) 
ANTH 6390 CRM Policy (3) (Finley) 
ANTH 6410 Socio-Ecological Models (3) (Freeman) 
ANTH 6700 Archaeology Internship (2) (100 work hours) (Byers)

Method and Area Courses (Choose 3 courses /9 credit hours in consultation with Supervisory Committee) 

ANTH 5250/6250 Problems in Bioarchaeology (3) (Lambert) 
ANTH 6310 Archaeology Lab (1-3) (Varies) 
ANTH 5320/6320 Zooarchaeology (3) (Byers—S) 
ANTH 5330/6330 Geoarchaeology (3) (Finley—S) 
ANTH 5420/6420 Lithic Analysis (3) (Byers—S) 
ANTH 6400 Collections Management (1-3)

Archaeology Internship

Students must take ANTH 6700 Archaeology Internship. The Graduate Director or your Supervisory Committee will help arrange an internship experience with a private sector CRM company, a government agency (e.g., USFS, BLM, SHPO), or a Native American tribal office. If your prior experience is in private sector CRM, then we recommend an internship in a government agency, and vice versa for those with experience in government archaeology. The internship is about hands-on experience, not just in the field, but in the lab, and in the management and regulatory environment, too. Our goal is to place you in a setting where you can experience firsthand the business and regulatory context in which CRM archaeology occurs. Internships may be paid positions, but this is not always the case. The rule of thumb for the required 2 credit internship is about 100 hours.

Students must submit brief written proposal to Graduate Director and the Supervisory Committee Chair. The proposal describes who the internship is with, the dates of the internship, the role and duties, who the supervisor is, and reporting requirements (typically an email from whomever you did the internship with that states you put in the time and did a good job). Upon approval of the proposal, registration for the course ANTH 6700 Archaeology Internship will be enabled.

Plan A Thesis

The Plan A option for a master's degree requires preparation of a thesis. Six credits for the thesis are included in the 33 minimum credits for the Master’s Degree in Anthropology.

The thesis for a Plan A Master's degree is to be a contribution to the field of knowledge, based on the student's own research or a treatment and presentation of known subject matter from a new perspective. The Plan A thesis option is an option to consider depending on the kind of research project you choose to pursue for your Master’s degree.

Student’s looking forward to application to the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA - should give serious consideration to the Plan A track. The application to the RPA is much more direct if a thesis is part of the Master’s Degree Program.

The semesters during which you register for thesis credit should correspond as closely as possible to when you actually do your thesis research and writing. Do not register for thesis credits prematurely because you will likely need those once you complete coursework and still have to register for 3 credits per semester. Plan carefully.

The thesis must adhere to the American Antiquity style guide. The School of Graduate Studies accepts the AA guide, but will also review the thesis for compliance with the USU Publication Guide for Graduate Students. By now you can see it is important to familiarize yourself with the SGS web site.

Your thesis will first be reviewed by your Supervisory Committee chair, then the full committee. After your defense, any changes will again be approved by your committee. Then it is reviewed for style by the Anthropology Graduate Director, and submitted to the Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for adherence to the publication guide. After any changes, and approval, the thesis will signed by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and submitted to the USU Merrill-Cazier Library for electronic storage and binding.

Plan B Paper/Creative Work

The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work. Two credits of thesis research are required, but no more than 3 credits of thesis credit can be counted toward the degree. Similar to Plan A, the credits should correspond to the semesters in which the work is done. The paper is not reviewed by the School of Graduate Studies. It is submitted to the library.

The Plan B paper should be targeted at a specific research problem and written for submission to a refereed journal in archaeology or a related discipline. The paper need not be submitted or published in order to qualify for the Master’s degree, but the Supervisory Committee will evaluate the paper as if they are the Editor and Editorial Board of a refereed journal. The style of the paper must conform to that of a refereed archaeology journal (e.g., Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, Utah Archaeology). Following through and submitting your paper could earn you a publication – a useful tool for career advancement and for gaining admission to a Ph.D. program.

A Plan B creative works is a project such as an exhibit, educational outreach, web site development, cataloging system and such. These typically pertain to education, outreach, heritage tourism, and museum studies. These can be viable options for professional development in cultural resource management.

Plan A or Plan B?

There is no difference in the expectations of high quality for a thesis, a paper, or a creative work.
There are differences in the product:

  • A thesis is a report of original work, highly structured in format, and in details and standards required by the School of Graduate Studies. 
  • A paper is highly structured as a concise presentation of original research, and in details and standards required by a refereed journal.
  • A creative work is an original work whose structure or medium can take different forms, and that meets to the standards and expectations of that form and medium.

In the world of Cultural Resource Management the question of Plan A and Plan B takes on greater complexity. The choice deserves careful consideration because it may shape your future employment and archaeological research and permitting options. To this end, here are some internet links and other information you’ll want to consider:

  1.  This link shows the application qualifications for a principal investigator in the State of Utah and the evaluation form used to assess whether or not you meet these minimum
    qualifications (See links for Utah Principal Investigator Permit and Principal Investigator Evaluation Form) ( ).
    Note that a graduate degree is preferred, but not absolutely required if you have conducted a research-driven project and produced an affiliated report (a thesis or equivalent). Other states may vary in format and particulars, but are similar.
  2. This link shows the US Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for archaeology: ( These qualifications define the minimum education and experience required for cultural resource activities on federal land and for projects either permitted or funded by federal agencies. In short, they require a graduate degree, at least a year of professional experience, four months lab/field experience, and “demonstrated ability to carry research to completion.”
  3. What does “demonstrated ability to carry research to completion” mean? See here: ( ), which states, “as evidenced by timely completion of theses, research reports, or similar documents (32 CFR [code of federal regulations] 229.8).” These requirements are similar to Utah’s PI qualification standards and the RPA’s standards, below.
  4. The RPA (Register of Professional Archaeologists) provides qualification standards for applicants with an MA, MS or PhD and these can be found at (

Read through these documents carefully, so that you fully understand the professional requirements of the industry most of you are probably going into. Associated disciplines like museums, education, outreach, etc. may have different expectations and qualification standards which you should research if you’re thinking of going these routes. The regulations and standards are also subject to change. It is important to consult with your Supervisory Committee Chair and Members, and the Graduate Director before committing to one track or the other.

Masters Written Examination

All graduate students are required to take the Master’s examination at the end of their third semester at USU. Exams will be scheduled during finals week of each fall semester. The exam is administered in two, four-hour sessions. All students will answer the same three questions and these are appended at the end of this manual. Your exam questions will come directly from this list with no modification. On each exam day your will be expected to answer the questions assigned by your supervisory committee, for a total of three responses over the two days. Students may bring with them a bibliography of relevant references to aid in constructing their responses.

Your Supervisory Committee will evaluate the exam and notify you of the results within three weeks following the examination. Each question on the exam is scored 1) pass or 2) no pass. A pass grade on all questions will satisfy the requirement for the Master’s degree. No degree will be awarded for a grade of no pass. In the event the grade is no pass, either for a particular question or the exam as a whole, your Supervisory Committee will recommend that you rewrite or expand upon the deficient exam responses. Students will have two weeks from the time of notification to complete their remediation. Written remediation will be considered a second opportunity to pass the qualifying exam. Students failing to meet committee standards on their second attempt may be dismissed from the program. Students wishing to contest a failing grade may pursue an appeal though the USU Graduate College.

Thesis Defense or Colloquium

After completion of the thesis, paper, or creative work, you and your Supervisory Committee will schedule a final, oral examination in the form of a thesis defense. The defense must occur during fall or spring semester, not during semester breaks or in summer. The defense must be open to the public, and is a presentation to your colleagues. The title, time, and date must be posted at least a week in advance. The program staff assistant can help with this, as you will need a flier. You must be enrolled for a minimum of three credit hours during the semester of your defense.

Credits and Residency

At least 24 semester credits for a Master’s degree must be from a Supervisory Committee and School of Graduate Study approved Program of Study from Utah State University. Furthermore, any allowed transfer credits cannot replace the required residency credits.

Waivers and Substitutions

Alterations of any requirements for the Master’s degree must be approved by the Supervisory Committee, and must not conflict with policies of the School of Graduate Studies or Utah State University.


Additional Certificate Opportunities

Two programs at Utah State University may be beneficial add-ons to your Master’s degree. Credits taken in pursuit of these certificates may comprise the elective credits toward your degree, but you will also need to consult with your Supervisory Committee to determine if other courses will be required to meet your proposed Program of Study.

Museum Certificate Program

An additional opportunity is available to students enrolled in the Master’s Degree Program. The Museum of Anthropology is a teaching unit under the Program’s umbrella that already offers a certificate in Museum Studies. The certificate program is unique among offerings at Utah’s public and private institutions in that a certificate can be earned as a complement to a Bachelor, Master, or Ph.D. degree in any field. The 24-credit certification program, which features supporting coursework from nearly two dozen departments and programs across the USU campus, educates students in museum administration, collections management and care, and interpretation and exhibition skills. For more information go to the Museum website: (

NEPA Certificate

The Department of Environment and Society at USU and the Shipley Group, Inc. have formed a partnership to provide a certificate program that offers training related to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is an important environmental law that requires analysis of impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures for all major federal actions affecting the environment. Government agencies, private businesses, public interest organizations, and other groups involved in the NEPA process need individuals who have been trained in decision-making, analysis, and documentation aspects of NEPA, as well as the accompanying Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations and various agencies’ NEPA implementing procedures. The NEPA Certificate Program prepares you to meet the challenges of complying with the act and working effectively on NEPA documents. 

The NEPA certificate is a 13-credit-hour program of short courses at USU or other sites in Utah. The cost of this program is different than regular graduate tuition so, be sure you determine the current costs if you are considering this certificate. To apply and gain acceptance into the program, you must complete and submit a NEPA Certificate Program application form to the Department of Environment and Society. Visit the NEPA certificate web site at:  (

Graduate Orientation and Initial Advising

The Graduate Program Director(s) will host the Graduate Orientation and provide initial advising. We encourage you to consult with other anthropology faculty as well. The orientation will be held during the first few weeks of fall semester. Once you form your Supervisory Committee the Chair of your committee will assume the role of your lead advisor.

The Supervisory Committee

Your Supervisory Committee is central to your graduate experience because they will advise you in planning a degree program, and whether you should pursue Plan A or Plan B. They will decide the acceptance of transfer credits from another graduate school or from undergraduate studies. They will guide your selection of thesis/paper research, help you find an internship, and provide general guidance. The Supervisory Committee will also decide the format and content of the Master’s Written Exam, and they will administer and evaluate the exam. Your committee will decide upon and sign off on your Master’s degree.

You should select your Supervisory Committee by discussing your plans with prospective members of the committee to reach a decision by early in your second semester. The Supervisory Committee Approval Form ( is now submitted online. It should be routed from the student through the Graduate Program Director and who will then email it to the appropriate contact person in the School of Graduate Studies. The document is then sent out to the appropriate people for electronic signatures using DocuSign.

A Master’s degree Supervisory Committee must include at least three faculty members who are approved by the Department Head and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. One of the three faculty will serve as Chair. The Chair of the committee must be a full time USU Anthropology faculty member and must represent your main area of specialization in Archaeology/CRM. One member of the committee should be from outside the specialization area within archaeology (but they can still be an archaeologist). Faculty in other colleges and academic departments may serve on your committee if their expertise is relevant to your research and interests. Adjunct faculty can be members with the approval of the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees. 

All members of the Supervisory Committee must be Utah State University faculty. However, it is acceptable to have a fourth person serve ex officio as an outside reader. They do not vote on your exams or degree, but they may confer with the Supervisory Committee. Consult with the Chair of your committee if you are interested in employing this option.

Some Advice about Your Supervisory Committee

Setting up your committee no later than the beginning of your second semester will help keep you moving toward timely degree completion. You should plan on holding a committee meeting midway in the spring semester of your first year to evaluate your progress and future direction. Even though it is important to form a committee early, the composition of your committee may change as you decide upon the specifics of your research. The Chair of your committee should be someone most familiar with the topic and geographic area of your research because the Chair is your primary mentor and will lead the decision making of the committee. The other members of your committee should complement the Chair with one serving as an “outside” member—an important source of vantage in the deliberations of your committee. If you decide to change your committee, talk with your Chair. It is your responsibility to talk with the individuals you want to add and replace. You will need to fill out a new Supervisory Committee form. Don’t be afraid to change your committee; we want committees to be the “best fit” just as much as you do. 

 The Program of Study

Devising your Program of Study is one task for your first committee meeting. You will identify a schedule of courses that will fulfill your needs and fulfill the requirements of the Master’s Degree Program. The Program of Study also identifies any prerequisites, transfer credits, and all other stipulations or requirements agreed upon by you and your Supervisory Committee. The Program of Study form ( must be filled out with the help of your Committee Chair and signed by your Supervisory Committee Members. After obtaining the appropriate signatures it should be submitted to the Graduate Program Director who then submits it to the School of Graduate Studies. This should be done soon after forming the committee.

 Supervisory Committee Meetings and Maintaining Committee Contact 

It is vital that you maintain frequent, steady communication with the Supervisory Committee Chair and other members of the committee. In addition to informal contact, work with the chair of your Supervisory Committee to determine a schedule for meetings of the full committee. It is your responsibility as a graduate student to schedule the committee meetings. This includes contacting all committee members well in advance (at least a month), probably via a Doodle poll. The program staff assistant can advise you and perhaps help you do this. You should prepare an agenda for the committee itemizing all matters that need to be discussed, and make a copy of the agenda for each committee member. You will need to take minutes during the meeting. The minutes should be typed up after the meeting, dated and signed by you and your committee chair. Your committee chair should ensure that the signed minutes are deposited into your official file maintained by the Anthropology Program staff assistant.

The responsibility for maintaining contact lies directly with the student. Students who do not maintain sufficient contact may encounter delays in finishing the program, or may be deemed not to be making satisfactory progress in the program.

The Annual Review

Each year the Graduate Faculty reviews the progress of all Graduate Students in the program. The review helps faculty allocate financial aid, and helps to achieve timely completion of your degree. The reviews are done in February and March. Inquire with your Supervisory Committee Chair as to your status. 


The Thesis/Paper Process

The product of your graduate research will be a thesis (Plan A) or paper/creative work (Plan B). Research for the Masters degree is defined as an original scholarly work demonstrating mastery of the field. Your thesis or paper/creative work is the culmination of your Program of Study and should consist of several carefully planned steps.

Initial Discussions

Initial discussions of topics, scope, and funding should begin during your first semester of graduate school. These discussions will help you form your Supervisory Committee. The single greatest factor in time to degree is the thesis. It takes time and a great deal of effort. Do not wait to begin selecting a topic, and importantly, a tractable scope appropriate for Master’s level work. Your committee’s advice is invaluable. It is up to you to apply this advice in a timely manner.

Master the Relevant Literature

Master the relevant literature for your possible research topics. Again, your Supervisory Committee will guide you. This can often take a semester or more and may influence what courses you take. This process will inform the Program of Study you devise with your committee in your second semester.

The Research Proposal

The Research Proposal is the next step after the relevant literature has been reviewed and a framework for your research is established. Your coursework provides experience in finding a topic, articulating problems, and proposal writing. Your Supervisory Committee, especially your chair should see early drafts of your proposal. Once agreed upon the proposal becomes part of your Program of Study. The proposal format and specifics are detailed in an appendix at the end of this document. Please follow it closely as you generate your proposal.

There is considerable latitude in what constitutes an appropriate research project for the Masters degree in Cultural Resource Management Archaeology depending on your career goals and anticipated employment context. The subject of your research may change, and may need to respond to evolution in your interests, and to research opportunities. It is important to begin the exploratory process during the first semester, even though you may not achieve a complete and approved Research Proposal until your second year. The Research Proposal typically goes through several rewrites, and once it is approved, becomes the foundation of your Thesis/Paper.

The Thesis and the Defense

The Thesis and the Defense evolve out of the approval of your Research Proposal, and in most cases the proposal becomes the thesis. However, do not assume that this process can be accomplished in a matter of weeks or even a few months. You will be asked to revise, re-write, and return to analysis. Once the substantive work is done, the editing and polishing of the writing takes center stage (although it should always be center stage). Theses in our program adhere to the American Antiquity style guide, and you will gain experience with that in your courses. Plan B papers may conform to the style guide of a particular journal where the paper may be submitted for review and possible publication.

Some advice: Do not expect your committee to be available to review your thesis drafts, or final style adherence during the summer or semester breaks as they have field work and research of their own to accomplish during these times. This may be possible if you make arrangements, but mostly you must plan your draft submissions around the academic calendar.

Your defense will be scheduled once your committee deems your thesis “defendable.” This almost surely will not be the final draft. The defense may be scheduled during spring or fall semester only, not during semester breaks or during the summer.

After your defense is approved by your Supervisory Committee, you have the remaining time in the current semester and one “grace semester” (no tuition is charged during the grace semester) to complete the final, approved thesis, complete style review by the Graduate Director, and style review by the School of Graduate Studies. Then, you must pay all final fees, take the thesis to the library for electronic storage and binding. Plan B papers do not go through as much review, but they are deposited in the library. All of these steps can take over a month so plan accordingly.

Some advice: If you defend in spring semester, your grace semester is during the summer semester, with all items due in early August. If you defend in fall semester, all items must be completed by the end of classes the following spring semester. Plan ahead and meet your deadlines (just like professional work in CRM).

Course Load

A full course load in graduate school is 9 credits per semester. Within the Anthropology Program, students with a tuition award and/or Graduate Assistantship at the .5 FTE level must carry a full 9 credit load at the 5000 or 6000 level, but must not exceed 12 credits, during their first three semesters. At least six credits are expected in the fourth. Students with a must carry a minimum of 6 credits until they have started their thesis work.


Graduate students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA for degree-program courses. Grades lower than a B (B-, C+, C etc.) will not be accepted for a graduate degree. A grade of P (Pass) will be accepted only for interdisciplinary workshops, internships, thesis research, and continuing graduate advisement, and must be approved by the Supervisory Committee. Correspondence course credits, and distance education correspondence (independent home study) courses are not accepted for graduate degrees. USU courses offered by Regional Campus and Distance Education (RCDE) are accepted for graduate credit. Credit by special examination cannot be used for a graduate degree or to meet the residency requirement.

Dismissal from the Program

In rare occurrences, a student may not meet the minimum requirements for academic performance as expected by the Anthropology Program and/or the Graduate College. In such cases, a student may be dismissed from the graduate program. According to the Utah State University Graduate College, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies will notify students whose GPA is below 3.0 any semester. If a student's institution GPA remains below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, the student may be placed on probationary status and his or her graduate program may be terminated. Students may also be dismissed from the program for failing their qualifying exams or other instances of failing to meet expectations for progress towards degree.

Continuous Registration

Graduate students using University facilities or faculty time must be registered for a minimum of 3 graduate credits every semester until completion of all degree requirements, except, in some cases, the semester of final thesis approval (see below). Continuous registration may be met with courses, seminars, independent study, research credit, or 6990 (Continuing Graduate Advisement). The continuous registration requirement goes into effect the semester a student begins study as a matriculated graduate student.

A graduate student who is not using University facilities or faculty time may meet the continuous registration requirement by paying the Continuous Registration Fee of $100 per semester. This alternative requires a written request from the department head.

In the semester of your thesis defense or completion of Plan B Paper, you must be registered for at least 3 Anthropology Program credits, ideally thesis credits. You will be given until the last day of the next semester (a “grace” semester: spring semester defense = summer grace semester. Fall semester defense = spring grace semester) following the defense to finish degree requirements. If you need more time after that, you must pay a $100 Late Completion Fee for each semester following the grace semester. If working with faculty involves more than routine submission of the thesis to the Assistant Dean, School of Graduate Studies for style review, registration for 3 or more Anthropology credits is required. After one year, re-defense may be required.

Note About Residency and Continuous Registration

If you leave Utah after completing your coursework, and give up your Utah residency, you will pay nonresident tuition for all credits taken until you complete your degree.

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence, during which neither continuous registration nor a $100 payment is required, may be granted under the following conditions:

  1. Illness, required military service, and other extenuating circumstances acceptable to the Department Head and the Graduate Dean.
  2. Lack of availability of courses.

The student must have an approved Program of Study on file in the School of Graduate Studies before a leave will be granted. A leave of absence must be approved by the Graduate Dean, upon written recommendation of the Department Head. A leave of absence may be the basis for extending the time limit to complete a degree, but not to extend the time limit for course validity— six years for a Masters degree. Proposals for a leave of absence should be discussed first with the chair of your Supervisory Committee.

Answers to FAQ and Some Advice

  • If you have not had an Archaeology Field School, you will need to take one or show equivalent experience to be admitted as a fully matriculated student. You may take courses, and once you are matriculated, they will count toward your degree.
  • Everyone does an internship. Some students spend an entire summer doing an internship (such as federal SCEP positions). Be aware that this greatly exceeds our requirement and may take you away from attention to your Research Proposal and Thesis/Paper research, thus increasing time to degree completion.
  • Plan A and Plan B. Both require high-quality research and faculty have high expectations regardless of whether you pursue a thesis, a publishable paper, or a creative work. We let the nature of your research project, your archaeological experience, and career goals guide which path you choose. You will make a final decision in consultation with the Chair of your Supervisory Committee.
  • Supervisory Committee and Program of Study. While it is nice to complete these by the end of the first semester, it often happens during the second semester. These tasks are important to developing a high quality and timely trajectory – they are not just paperwork. Do not simply form the committee, but proceed with scheduling your first meeting to complete your Program of Study. Do not procrastinate on these tasks – it could jeopardize your progress to degree completion and your funding.
  • Electives and add-on certificates (e.g., museum studies, NEPA, GIS). Stick to the core requirements at first, learn about the program and the profession, and then you can make these decisions.
  • All funding to graduate students and the progress of each student is evaluated in February/March of each year. Funding awards for support in a student’s second year are awarded in February/March as well. These awards are contingent on maintaining the minimum required standards for the program and otherwise moving satisfactorily towards degree. Students awarded funding in February/March for their second year, but failing to meet program requirements may have their funding offers rescinded.
  • Funding in the previous year does not ensure continued funding. No funding the first year does not mean no funding in the second year. We often discover funding during the year and will nominate students or alert you to funding opportunities as they become available.
  • Yes, this is a two-year degree, but only if you follow our advice, and stay on track and pursue the degree full time—including summers, or at least a significant portion of the summers. Some students must have part time employment, but know that this in and of itself can lengthen time to degree completion. If you choose to pursue research or additional certificates that will benefit your career, your time to degree will increase. All of your time to the degree does not need to be in residence in Logan once you complete the required courses. However, once you leave residence and especially if you become employed, the time to your degree inevitably increases. It can also cost you if you lose your Utah residency. Most of the reasons why a Master’s degree takes longer than two years lie with student decisions, not with Utah State University or your anthropology professors. Your Supervisory Committee will guide you through these decisions. The limit for the validity of coursework is six years and this is a university requirement.
  • Choosing your graduate research. This tends to come from what you learn in your courses, from opportunities presented to you by faculty, and from opportunities that arise from professional connections you have or develop while you are here. The process of fully defining a research project takes time and is part of your education. Don’t feel like you need to know this coming in; let the learning process unfold. We help with this. 
  • At some risk of redundancy, your degree is not near just because you finish coursework. The thesis takes longer than you think. It will require full time work over many months. The first draft is just that, a draft. Expect to write multiple drafts. Your committee chair will work with you and advise you when to submit your thesis to the full committee. There will likely be several revisions. After the defense, don’t let up. Getting to the final, approved product takes another significant effort. The thesis process is central to your professional training. It is not only about archaeological research, but about self-discipline, organization, meeting deadlines, and learning to be a Project Director or Principal Investigator.


Sample Time Line

The following is not an expectation or a requirement. It is a hypothetical model of progress through the program based on student experience for students taking a full graduate course load and who commit to graduate study full time.

Year 1

Fall Semester

9 credits coursework taking all required courses offered. Begin discussing research plans and opportunities.

Spring Semester

9 credits coursework taking all required courses offered. Form Supervisory Committee by January and hold a meeting by March.Begin writing Research Proposal. Internship can be completed if courses/work load allow.


Internship. Work on Research Proposal: reading, writing, data collection, and analysis.

Year 2

Fall Semester

9 credits coursework finishing any required courses. Possible thesis credit.

Submit draft research proposal to the Chair of your Supervisory Committee at beginning of semester. Rewrite Research Proposal by mid-semester. Final approval of proposal. Propose schedule for Comprehensive Examination to committee. Take Master’s Written Examination finals week of fall semester.

Spring Semester

Complete any remaining coursework/thesis credits. After exam, continue work on Thesis/Paper. Submit draft by mid-semester. If thesis/paper is approved, hold defense/colloquium. Complete revisions in summer grace period. Graduate with Master of Science degree!

If any of the above tasks remain:


Continue to complete degree requirements, typically thesis redrafts, style issues, approvals, binding/library, and outstanding fees.


If using any faculty time such as research proposal or thesis/paper/creative works consultation, written exam evaluation, and any university facility (library) whether in residence or not, you must be registered for 3 credits. If you move away and lose Utah residency you will pay nonresident tuition.

Semester of Defense and Grace Semester

Defense held in spring or fall semester. Must be registered for 3 credits. You have one semester after the semester of your defense to complete all requested revisions, submit to Graduate Director for style check, submit to SGS for style review, make necessary revisions, complete all forms forms, paperwork, and deposit bound thesis, hardcopy of paper and digital submission to the library with all necessary, signed and approved forms. 

Graduate Student Citizenship

You are the member of a scholarly cohort. Graduate students learn from each other by reading, studying, and arguing together. Get to know each other. This can create an outlet both for troubleshooting your graduate experience and for letting off steam with people who have been there. Your colleagues may have insights into solutions for obstacles you run into, just from having been around for awhile.

Graduate school is immersion, not just taking classes and paying for credits. Participate in all department events possible such as lectures, museum volunteering, Anthropology Club. Be here, be active, be a player.

Be a reader. You will have plenty of reading in your classes, but you should also begin tracking a suite of journals in your areas of interest. Consider allotting blocks of time each week as “library days” where you intentionally read beyond the material in your classes and beyond areas of knowledge to which you are accustomed. Broaden and deepen.

The faculty are not to be avoided. Take the initiative to meet everyone. Once you do that you will gain a sense of the times when you can visit informally vs. times when a visit with a professor should be prepared and task oriented.

Committee meetings or meetings of prospective committees should be scheduled each semester, and no less than once per year. The more you stay in contact with your committee, the more on-track you’ll stay, even if the meeting is just a half hour long. You’re responsible for approaching your chair to propose a meeting, for tracking down all your members, and for finding a date and time that is good for everyone.

If there is something that you’re wondering about (requirements, etc.), don’t rely on any one source for the answer to that question (even if it says so in the Bible – the Graduate Handbook). Make sure you get the answer corroborated. Once you form your committee however, you will find that there is the potential to tailor your education to your needs to a certain extent. This is another reason why the relationship with faculty is important and why the Chair of your Supervisory Committee is all-important.


Master's Degree Checklist (Plan A)

Supervisory Committee form approved and up-to-date (end of second semester).

  • Program of Study form approved (end of second semester). All courses listed on the form have been taken and grades submitted. If there is to be any change on the Program of Study form, an e-mail from your major professor, sent to, is needed authorizing the change.
  • Thesis proposal submitted, signed by committee members.
  • No coursework (excluding transfer credit) on the Program of Study form is out-of-date (older than eight years). If so, has the major professor been notified? If revalidation is allowed by the department, the major professor must send a letter to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies outlining how the courses will be revalidated.
  • Appointment for Examination form submitted to the School of Graduate Studies at least two weeks or 10 working-days before the final examination.
  • Registered for at least three credit hours the semester of defense.
  • Record of Exam Completion form submitted online at least 15 days before your defense.
  • Graduation forms completed, fees paid (see Diploma Fee Payment form), and forms returned to the School of Graduate Studies (these forms are listed below and are given at your final defense; they must all be submitted together):
    • Commencement data card
    • Diploma Fee Payment form ($15)
    • Alumni file card
    • Student survey
    • Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Approval form is signed (this form is also included with the forms given at your final defense and taken to the library with your thesis).
    • Incomplete grades for research credits changed.
  • Thesis completed and signed by all committee members. When this step is completed, the thesis must be submitted to the assistant dean for review. After the assistant dean is satisfied that it meets the requirements, the thesis will be submitted to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies for a signature. When the dean has signed the thesis, it must be picked up from the School of Graduate Studies office by the department, then copies are made and taken to the second floor of the Merrill-Cazier Library for hard binding. Binding fees will be paid to the Merrill-Cazier Library at that time. Please note that the university requires one copy of the thesis which remains in the library.
  • After the dean has signed the thesis, the student’s file will be reviewed for completion and processed for graduation.
  • Binding Clearance form returned to the School of Graduate Studies. This is the final document signaling the completion of degree.

*All requirements and graduation forms must be completed by the last day of the semester you plan to complete your program. Deadlines for spring commencement participation vary. Please go to ( for more information about those deadlines.

**Diplomas are mailed out 8 to 10 weeks after the end of the semester. The diploma will be mailed to the address provided on the Diploma Fee Payment form.

Masters Degree Checklist (Plan B)

  • Supervisory Committee form approved and up-to-date (end of second semester).
  • Program of Study form approved (end of second semester). All courses listed on the form have been taken and grades submitted. If there is to be any change on the Program of Study form, an e-mail from your major professor, sent to, is needed authorizing the change.
  • No coursework (excluding transfer credit) on the Program of Study form is out-of-date (older than eight years). If so, has the major professor been notified? If revalidation is allowed by the department, the major professor must send a letter to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies outlining how the courses will be revalidated.
  • Record of Exam Completion form submitted online at least 15 days before your defense.
  • Registered for at least three credit hours the semester of defense. 
  • Record of Exam Completion form signed and submitted by the committee to the School of Graduate Studies.
  • Graduation forms completed, fees paid (see Diploma Fee Payment form), and forms returned to the School of Graduate Studies (these forms are listed below and are given at your final defense; they must all be submitted together):
    • Commencement data card
    • Diploma Fee Payment form ($15)
    • Alumni file card
    • Student survey
    • Graduate Report/Creative Project Approval form is signed (this form is also included with the forms given at your final defense and must be taken to the library with your report/project).
    • Incomplete grades for research credits changed.
    • Letter of completion from the department head submitted. This letter must verify that all requirements for the degree program have been completed.
    • Plan B binding receipt from the library returned to the School of Graduate Studies.

*All requirements and graduation forms must be completed by the last day of the semester you plan to complete your program. Deadlines for spring commencement participation vary. Please go to ( for more information about those deadlines.

**Diplomas are mailed out 8 to 10 weeks after the end of the semester. The diploma will be mailed to the address provided on the Diploma Fee Payment form.

1. CRM

Contemporary American cultural resource management has a long history that can be traced back to the early 20th century.  What are the origins of the legal mandate to protect archaeological sites in the United States?  In retrospect, what problems existed with the original legislation and how were they later rectified?  What three key pieces of legislation guide contemporary cultural resource management today?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each act?

2. Method and Theory in the Desert West

The Great Basin has played a central role in the development of North American anthropological theory. Identify a major discussion in Great Basin prehistory and ethnography. Within the context of this discussion compare and contrast Culture History, Middle Range Theory, and Behavioral Ecology as approaches to understanding the archaeological record. Where does Great Basin anthropological scholarship stand today in terms of theory-building and cutting edge research?

3. Quantitative Methods

Humans are social foragers who live in groups. Groups provide access to mates, information on resources and defense; however, group living can also have costs. As social groups increase in size conflicts over obligations become more frequent and resources can start to become depleted, leading to increased search and travel costs for an individual in their quest for food. Using the statistical output provided, conduct an analysis of the effects of resource productivity, storage, warfare and diet on residential group sizes among contemporary hunter-gatherers. Excellent answers will use the appropriate methods (from the output provided) to interpret the effects of productivity, storage, warfare and diet on group size. Excellent answers will also draw conclusions from patterns in the data about the processes that determine the size of hunter-gatherers groups. (Data available from Dr. Freeman).


You are allowed to bring a bibliography of your own compilation into the exam. It may include as many references as you think are necessary to properly address the exam questions. However, the bibliography can only contain citation information (as illustrated below). Please do not include summaries or any other type of annotation.

Armstrong, L. T., L.S. Henrikson, H. K.Gilbert and B.R. Pace
         2016  Pluvial Lake Terreton: Building a Multidisciplinary Dataset to Understand Terminal Pleistocene/Holocene Occupations.  Paper presented at the 35th Great Basin
                   Anthropological Conference, Reno, Nevada. 

Barnard, Hans, Lori Shoemaker, Micala Rider, Oliver E. Craig, Robert E. Parr, Mark Q. Sutton, and Robert M. Yohe II
         2007 Introduction to the Analysis of Protein Residues in Archaeological Ceramics. In Theory and Practice of Archaeological Residue Analysis, edited by Hans Barnard and
                  Jelmer W. Eerkens, pp. 216-228. British Archaeological Reports International Series 1650.


Utah State University MS of Archaeology in Cultural Resource Management Research Proposal Framework

Answer the following prompts to generate your thesis proposal. Your proposal should include the six sections identified below and only those six sections. Each section will begin with the section heading identified in bold print. Your proposal will be comprehensively cited to demonstrate that you have identified and understand the relevant literature. Word counts are exclusive of any intext citations. The SAA style guide resides at Please use it for both in-text citations and your reference list. You will use 12-point, Times New Roman font, double spaced with 1-inch margins. Proposals not following the SAA style guide or the specified page format will be returned to the student for correction.

All students will have a completed and committee approved proposal by the end of their second semester. Students failing to meet this deadline or otherwise failing to make satisfactory progress towards degree in any other way may have their funding revoked.

1. Introduction: Research Question and Broader Impacts. Identify your central research question. Why is this question important and what is the broader impact of this research? (maximum 300 words).

2. Background: Theoretical Framework, Regional Context and Working Hypotheses. Provide a context for your research. How does your work fit into a regional, national, or international context? What is the theoretical framework for your work? Integrate this regional and theoretical context to frame hypotheses regarding the outcomes of your research. (maximum 1000 words).

3. Methods. Describe the methods that you will use in your study. How will you use them to test your hypotheses? (maximum 300 words).

4. Potential Outcomes. What are the potential outcomes of your research? A well-developed research question and a clear understanding of the broader impacts will help structure your outcomes. (maximum 300 words).

5. Work Plan and Target Dates. Outline a work plan for your research. Provide realistic target dates that you and your committee can use to help complete your work in a timely fashion. (maximum 300 words).

6. References Cited. Provide all references in American Antiquity format.


The graduate policies and handbooks of other universities were helpful in providing ideas, guidance, and policy language. Acknowledgement to the handbooks of the anthropology departments at California State University, Sacramento, University of New Mexico, University of South Florida, University of Utah, and University of Washington.