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Field School process

All majors in the Department of Anthropology are required to attend a faculty-supervised field school as part of their major (both archaeology and sociocultural anthropology). These field schools offer hands-on field research experience and training in our disciplines that supersedes what most programs offer at the undergraduate level. Taking this experience seriously and developing your senior thesis can provide excellent training for graduate school or help you develop professional skills that will set you apart. Students in these field schools conduct first hand data collection and analysis. The senior thesis required for each major will be written based on this research, under close mentorship with faculty in our department (see curriculum requirements. These programs are also open to students from other majors and universities who wish to gain such experience. Please consult the director of each program to discuss these possibilities and how these field schools can enhance training toward your professional goals. Information on each field school can be found in the navigation pane on the left, and this information will be updated as field school offerings change over time.

What is a Field School?

A field school is a particular type of study abroad program that focuses on a mentored research experience in the communities where the field school is held. While all study abroad programs seek to integrate classroom learning with the resources available in the host country, field schools emphasize learning and applying research skills in order conduct fieldwork and to answer scholarly questions in various disciplines. Thus, the emphasis in a field school is on the research experience itself, rather than just mastering a body of content. Field school students design and conduct research projects under the mentorship of the program faculty. This includes learning and applying skills of data collection and analysis in order to address a research question. In addition to the cultural immersion experience, students come out of field school programs with valuable research and analysis skills (which go beyond the typical undergraduate training) that can be applied to a wide variety of disciplines and majors. For students looking to conduct original fieldwork for a thesis, these programs offer an immersed fieldwork experience where one can draw upon the contact base and resources of the directing faculty to conduct thesis research.

The Field Schools fulfill the fieldwork requirement for the senior thesis sequence in both majors in the department (ANTHR 495R for Sociocultural Anthropology and ANTHR 455 for Archaeology). It is important to plan for these programs in advance, since each requires a pre-fieldwork preparation course as a prerequisite. In summary, the senior thesis sequence for each major is as follows, and each course must be taken in sequence, one per semester:

Sociocultural Anthropology: 442 - 495R - 499

Archaeology: 454 - 455 - 456 - 499

In the following lecture, Dr. John Hawkins discusses the many benefits of field school training for our students. Dr. Hawkins pioneered one of the longest running and most effective field school programs that launched many careers and led to a host of publications for the students involved.

John Hawkins: "Lessons Learned from the BYU Guatemala Ethnographic Field School, 1995-2010"

Projected Field School Schedule (subject to change)


2020: Canceled due to Covid-19 Petra, Jordan (Dr. Finlayson and Dr. Johnson)
2021: Yet to be determined-Peru, Hawaii, or Utah (Dr. Chase)
2022: Hinkley Mounds, Utah (Dr. Searcy)
2023: Petra, Jordan (Dr. Finlayson and Dr. Johnson)
2024: Southeastern Utah (Dr. Allison)

Sociocultural Anthropology

2020: Field Schools cancelled due to Covid-19
2021: France (Dr. Hickman), Korea (Dr. Thompson) - This schedule is subject to change, pending University decisions about international travel in 2021, but at the moment we are planning on convening both of these programs.

See where we are doing research!

Past Field Schools

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