Program and Progression

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 33 units; course requirements, comprehensive exam, thesis prospectus, colloquium presentation, advancement to candidacy, thesis completion, and defence. All PhD students are required to take three graded classes with a minimum of 13 units. PhD expected completion time is 12-15 terms.


Students must complete the following:

ARCH 871 - Archaeological Theory (5)
ARCH 872 - Graduate Seminar I (1)
ARCH 873 - Graduate Seminar II (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 is generally a Directed Readings or Directed Lab in Archaeology (PDF), but could be a graded graduate course at SFU from another department, or a suitable course through the Western Deans' or CAGS Mobility Agreements.) 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 graded 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 (18)


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.


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.


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

View the full calendar entry:

PhD Program Timeline

Find more information on the timeline in the Graduate Handbook.

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

Graduate Progress Report (GPR)

Students will have a committee meeting and submit an annual Graduate Progress Report (GPR) every Fall (except in their first semester, or if their defence date is prior to the due date of the GPR). There is also an informal interim report due in Feburary or March of each year. Please see more about the Graduate Progress Report on the Graduate Studies website, including details on how to fill in and submit the report (scroll to the bottom for the Graduate Progress Report). Students who do not complete the GPR risk receiving an unsatisfactory ranking.

A short explanation for Archaeology is available under Resources, and linked here.

The full discussion of the Department of Archaeology philosophy behind the Graduate Progress Reports in Appendix B of the Graduate Handbook.