Frequently Asked Questions


The following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the SFU online Professional Program in Heritage Resource Management. Please direct further questions or suggestions to

1.   How is the long is the Heritage Resource Management Program? 

Enrolled candidates are encouraged to complete the required coursework in one year by taking two courses in the fall term and two in the spring term, after which HRM Master’s students will begin thesis preparation.

Graduate Certificate Program completion times normally range from 9 to 21 months. Master’s Program completion times range from 11 to 23 months. The duration of studies depends on external workload and whether students arrive with well-defined thesis plans. Candidates are expected to complete HRM Program requirements within 3 years.

2.  Is there a spring term intake?

There is no spring or summer intake into the Program. 

3.   How many students will be enrolled in each Program cohort?

The target size for each HRM Program cohort is 8–16 candidates, total.

4.Do I need to find my own supervisor?

Unlike the admissions process for many graduate programs at SFU and elsewhere, prospective HRM Program candidates do not need to find their own SFU faculty to sponsor their application. Graduate Certificate candidates will be supervised by the HRM Program Director, while Master's candidates will be assigned a Senior Supervisor, most often a member of the Faculty Steering Group.  All efforts will be made to match Senior Supervisors and candidates based on research interests and expertise. Other factors, such as faculty workload, may be a consideration.  

Per the relevant SFU Graduate General Regulations, HRM Master's candidates will be required to add at least one more member to their supervisory committee in consultation with their senior supervisor. Master's candidates are strongly encouraged to select the second member of their supervisory committee from their current or desired professional networks of heritage resource management professionals.

Master's candidates are strongly encouraged to select the second member of their supervisory committee from their current or desired professional networks of heritage resource management professionals.

5.   Is it possible for Heritage Resource Management candidates to take electives outside the Program?

The HRM Program offers four required courses only, and there are no elective options within the Program. Students wishing to take other courses through SFU may arrange to do so independently.

HRM Program candidates who require technical or analytical capacities beyond the Program curriculum may speak with the Program Director for special consideration. All efforts will be made to support candidate’s thesis research. 

6.   How much contact will Heritage Resource Management students have with SFU faculty?

The Program’s four online courses will be largely delivered by SFU faculty (or associates of the Program). Otherwise, faculty contact will depend on individual circumstances. If a student thesis is focused on SFU collections, faculty projects, or faculty research interests, then they may collaborate more intensively with faculty members. Those pursuing thesis topics not specifically connected with SFU faculty research interests or initiatives may have less contact.

7.   How does the Program facilitate a sense of community within each cohort?

We encourage candidates to get to know one another and their faculty during our in-person Program orientation in the first week of fall term. Additionally, we aim to build and maintain a sense of community through the online learning environment of the Program.

Candidates may choose to create a private Facebook group as a gathering place for their cohort to get to know one another, exchange thoughts and ideas, and provide support. 

8. What kinds of resources can Heritage Resource Management candidates access at SFU?

Master’s candidates based in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland may work with their Senior Supervisor to obtain access to SFU Archaeology labs, collections, and related facilities. Students have accessed zooarchaeology samples and have worked with the SFU Centre for Forensic Research.  All candidates will have access to SFU-wide support, such as the Library's Research Commons, which supports students working with thesis templrates, formatting, and provides workshops and other materials to facilitate thesis writing and presentation.

9.   What's with the thesis requirement? Why not grant degrees without a thesis requirement?

The master’s thesis remains the essential indicator of researcher competence. Many Canadian provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Newfoundland) require archaeological permit applicants to minimally hold a master’s degree in anthropology or archaeology granted on the basis of a written thesis. Many HRM employers require mid- and upper-level staff members to have a master's thesis because it demonstrates essential capacities in research and writing.

The master’s thesis (or equivalent) is also necessary for listing in the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA). RPA requires applicants to hold an advanced degree and to have “have designed and executed an archaeological study and have reported on that research in the form of a Master's thesis and/or Ph.D. dissertation. The thesis or dissertation must show a substantive data analysis by the applicant directed toward an explicit archeological research problem” (RPA – How to Apply).

RPA registration is a central requirement for HRM professionals employed by state and federal agencies, consulting firms, and industry project proponents. Internationally, RPA registration is a requirement to supervise new archaeological projects in Peru and is increasingly referred to by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and other transnational investors and corporations as the certification standard for most HRM professionals.  

10.   What kinds of thesis topics can I work on as a master's student?

See the current HRM candidate profiles. The following list offers further ideas for thesis research: 

  CRM project report expansion and enhancement;
  Synthesis of understudied region or problem;
  Analysis of policy or planning problem (e.g., professional licensure; First Nations economic development via HRM archaeology, treatment of research data and conclusions as privileged information]);
  Critical overview of national, regional or administrative contexts, rules, or organizations;
  Assessment of field or analytic method (e.g., winter testing);
  case studies of the national, regional or thematic roots of key institutional developments in heritage/cultural resource management (e.g., treatment of research data and conclusions as privileged information);
  Jurisdiction- or issue-specific "Recommended Management Practices" for guiding HRM research, practice, or both; and
  Collection-focused research (e.g., mining implements from ancient quarries in Utah).

Note that several jurisdictions in Canada and the United States require or favour applications for professional status supported by a thesis completed on archaeological topics within that jurisdiction.

11.   Why the emphasis on international heritage resource management issues and opportunities?

The heritage resource management industry services clients in seven primary sectors: defense, energy, forest products, mining, real estate, transportation, and water. The largest potential growth areas for all or most of these sectors are outside of Canada and the United States.

The Equator Principles and other recent responses by the World Bank and other proponents of international economic expansion indicate new commitments to identifying, assessing, and reducing the environmental and social risks linked to land modification and resource extraction projects.

The HRM Program is premised in part on the idea that individual heritage resource management leaders can make a real difference in assuring that the full spectrum of heritage resources are considered in the course of project planning and implementation. Program coursework includes international case studies to broaden perspectives and prepare candidates to work outside of North America.  

12.   Why is the Heritage Resource Management Program more expensive than other graduate programs at SFU?

The HRM Program is an intensive learning experience specifically designed for professionals. No other students may enrol in or audit the courses. The courses are delivered by SFU faculty and heritage resource management industry professionals, with many decades of heritage resource management and teaching experience.

13.  What is the Program cost for international students?

In order to encourage applicants from outside Canada and the U.S., international students pay the same amount as Canadians, except the higher cost of medical coverage.

14. If the courses are delivered online, do international students need a Student Visa?

International students should investigate the process for obtaining a student visa

15.  What financial aid is available?

Candidates in professional graduate programs are not eligible for SFU financial aid. Providing they meet all other eligibility requirements, HRM master’s candidates can participate in competitions for SFU Private Awards and for external awards, including (for Canadian citizens) TriCouncil (SSHRC/NSERC/CIHR) Master's Scholarships

SFU Archaeology will continue efforts to raise funds for the future and facilitate partnerships with student employers. Applicants are strongly encouraged to work with their employers to develop mutually beneficial arrangements to build individual and organizational capacities through graduate training.

16.  Are HRM Candidates eligible for Teaching Assistant positions?


17.  Where can I learn more about heritage resource management?

Check out the Heritage Resource Management (HRM) and Applied Archaeology: Guide to research materials pages prepared by John Welch, Erin Hogg, Jenna Walsh, and colleagues on the SFU Library website.

18.   How can I learn more about SFU Archaeology's Professional HRM Program?

Download the Student Guide to the HRM Program.

Contact John Welch, Professional HRM Program Director, at or 778-782-6726.