Doctoral Program

PhD (Doctoral) Program Requirements

The traditional on-campus PhD program in Archaeology is a full-time, per-term fee program that consists of the following sequential steps for a minimum of 21 units; course requirements, comprehensive exam, thesis prospectus, colloquium presentation, advancement to candidacy, thesis completion, and defence. All PhD students are required to take three classes and a minimum of 13 units. PhD expected completion time is 12-15 terms.

Course Requirements

Students must complete the following:
ARCH 871 - Archaeological Theory (5)
ARCH 872 - Graduate Seminar in Archaeology and Prehistory (1)
ARCH 873 - Graduate Seminar in Archaeology and Prehistory (1)
ARCH 876 - Research Design (5)
and one or more additional courses with a minimum of three units and approval by the supervisory committee. This course can be within the department as a Directed Reading/Lab course (PDF), an approved course outside the department, or an approved course via the Western Dean’s Agreement. Doctoral students entering with an MA from the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University are required to take three courses for a minimum of thirteen units.

and a prospectus and presentation of colloquium, ARCH 874 - PhD Prospectus & Colloquium (0)

and a comprehensive exam, ARCH 875 - PhD Comprehensive Examination (0)

and a thesis, ARCH 899 - PhD Thesis (6)

Comprehensive Exam

Students write a comprehensive examination prior to candidacy to test general knowledge in archaeology and in three regional or topical areas. Grading is on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis but the examination or parts thereof may be repeated once, at the department’s discretion.

Advancement to Candidacy

A distinction is made between program enrollment and formal advancement to degree candidacy. A candidate is a student who has successfully completed the advancement to candidacy requirements (defined below).

Formal advancement to PhD candidacy takes place when the following requirements have been met:

  • Completion of three required graduate courses;
  • Completion of ARCH 874;
  • Completion of ARCH 875.


The defence topic will be the thesis itself and related subject matter. The thesis should present original, problem-oriented research which makes a significant contribution to knowledge.

Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements within fifteen terms, and are encouraged to complete in less time.

Recommended Timeline

Year 1 Fall
  • Archaeological Theory (ARCH 871-5)
  • Directed Readings in Prehistory (ARCH 892-5) (or another course, in your first or second semester)
  • Graduate Seminar (ARCH 872)
  • Research Design (ARCH 876-5)
  • Graduate Seminar (ARCH 873)
  • Establish supervisory committee
  • Interim Graduate Progress Report
  • Approval by GEC of comprehensive examination abstracts (ARCH 875)
  • Thesis research (ARCH 899)
Years 2-3  
  • Submission of three abstracts for comprehensive examination major papers (field statements) to the GEC for approval (ARCH 875)
  • Completion of three comprehensive examination major papers (field statements) (ARCH 875)
  • Presentation of Colloquium (ARCH 874) no later than the end of the 7th semester
  • Oral PhD comprehensive examination (ARCH 875) no later than the end of the 7th semester.
  • Thesis research (ARCH 899)
  • Every Fall and Spring, a Graduate Progress Report
Years 3-5
  • Thesis research, writing, and revisions (ARCH 899)
  • Every Fall and Spring, a Graduate Progress Report