Your Future in Archaeology
The Archaeology MA program at the University of Saskatchewan provides students with the opportunity to be perfectly positioned to continue working within several fields after graduation. Graduates from this program have gone on to work within the fields of Cultural Resource Management (CRM), governmental agencies, museums, academic departments, and many other areas. This program provides the necessary theoretical and methodological framework via fieldwork opportunities, internship positions, and coursework to ensure graduates are competitively placed when entering the workforce. Fieldwork opportunities are local, national, and international, with faculty members who have ongoing projects on the Northern Plains, Boreal Forest, Northwest Coast, Mongolia, and various regions of Arctic and Eastern Siberia.
Our Master’s program offers a thesis option and focuses on five streams: bioarchaeology, environmental archaeology, zooarchaeology, computational archaeology, and community-based archaeology. We place particular importance on working with Indigenous communities and local archaeological societies across these research fields. The University of Saskatchewan’s graduate archaeology program has expert faculty to instruct and guide you in these areas.
Human remains are the most direct link to past people and their experiences. Bioarchaeology, the study of archaeological human remains, allows researchers to reconstruct past life ways, including health levels, diet/nutrition, mobility, behaviour, and so much more. Interpreted within past environmental and social contexts, bioarchaeological data are independent of—and complementary to—other kinds of archaeological data. Our bioarchaeology graduate program focuses largely on health, diet, and activity research, with a particular focus on paleopathology (the study of ancient disease) and social identity. For example, recent (since 2019) graduate students have studied Harris lines as indicators of physiological stress, multiple methods of re-associating commingled remains, mortuary and identity variability, and osteoarthritis from modern surgical populations.
Environmental archaeology is the study of past human interactions with the natural world—a world in which plants, animals, and people are integrated within a constantly changing living landscape. Environmental archaeology emphasizes the complexities of this changing landscape through time and across space. It investigates the long-term history and prehistory of human-environment relationships, through the application of a variety of methods that archaeologists and other scientists use to reconstruct past environments (e.g., geomorphology, geoarchaeology, archaeobotany, dendrochronology, zooarchaeology, isotopic analyses, proteomics, aDNA, and others) with the goal of delivering a greater understanding of the dynamic recursive nature of the relationship we have with our environment and that the environment has with us.
This speciality is the study of faunal remains from archaeological sites that focuses on reconstructions of human-animal relationships in the past. It addresses a range of topics that cover diet and subsistence practices, seasonality of site use, processing of animal bodies, domestication, and animal life histories. Our graduate students are currently working on several projects within this speciality including faunal analyses of fur-trade era sites from the Canadian Plains, developing new approaches that can be applied to estimate ages of caribou/reindeer remains and to identify sled dogs from the Holocene sites across the Circumpolar North, as well as creating public outreach activities that highlight human-animal interactions on both temporal and spatial levels.
This area of study utilizes computer-based analytical methods to shine light on archaeological research questions. It encompasses several areas of research utilizing techniques such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), geophysical analysis, computer modeling, and statistical analyses. This permits a broad view of how individual archaeological sites fit within the landscape and environment, as well as being generally non-invasive allowing for the preservation of sites while still gleaning important information.
Community-based archaeology emphasizes working with and involving the present-day communities that have descended from past peoples to ensure that archaeological activities align with and bring benefit to the standards and practices of these communities. The Department of Anthropology has a particular focus on working with Indigenous Peoples, including working to locate unmarked graves associated with former residential schools.
Your Future in Anthropology
The Anthropology graduate program at the University of Saskatchewan is a leader in preparing students through training and experience for future careers in both the public and private sectors in areas of environment and health, as well as preparation to make on-the-ground changes through the Practicing Anthropology program. Both local and international research opportunities are available, as our faculty have undertaken research both in Canada and other world regions.
Our Master’s program offers thesis and project options and emphasizes three streams: medical anthropology, environmental anthropology, and practicing/applied anthropology. The University of Saskatchewan is rich in resources and faculty in these areas, having more trained medical, environmental, and applied anthropologists on faculty than many other Canadian universities.
Medical anthropology (sometimes referred to as the Anthropology of Health) remains one of the fastest growing sub-fields of Anthropology in North America. Medical anthropology, in general terms, is the cross-cultural study of health, illness, and health systems. It is unique in that it places central importance on the role of culture in understanding human suffering, response to illness, and resilience, and this sets it apart from cognate fields like medical sociology, health psychology, or community health. While contemporary community and public health discourse often now includes culture as a “health determinant,” medical anthropology brings to the discussion the most advanced theoretical development of the concept of culture and its role in health, and the complex cross-cultural methods required to properly study it.
Strengths of the Medical Anthropology Stream
The program demonstrates specific strengths in the following areas:
- Indigenous peoples’ health
- Global health
- Gender and health
- Violence and health
- Mental health
- Infectious diseases
- Environmental health
- Applied methodologies
- Urban and complex research contexts
Environmental anthropology, prominent within early approaches to social science, continues to be a site of cutting-edge research within the discipline. Environmental anthropologists study not only how the environment shapes human culture and society, but also how humans shape the environment. Insights on the socially constructed nature of human relations with the built and natural environments provide environmental anthropologists with a strong theoretical platform from which to contribute to debates in neighbouring fields such as geography, law, environmental studies, resource management, policy analysis, environmental history, health, archaeology, and environmental sociology. Environmental anthropologists study both ancient prehistory and contemporary debates, from Indigenous elders to scientists, activists, and corporate leaders. Environmental anthropology offers understanding of human dimensions of environmental problems, leading to more effective solutions.
Strengths of the Environmental Anthropology Stream
- Management and governance of Indigenous lands; land claims
- Impact assessment and consultation
- Resource management (forestry, oil and gas, agriculture)
- Conservation and wildife
- Environmental policy
- Prairie Provinces, Arctic and Subarctic North America
- International development
- Traditional ecological knowledge
- Cultural and symbolic engagement with landscapes
- Ritual spaces
- Political ecology
Project-Based MA in Practicing Anthropology
The anthropological world is changing quickly. Anthropologists are bringing a unique set of skills, insights, and experiences to the non-academic sectors of society, and many graduates of anthropology programs are finding a way to adapt their training to careers outside of the university. Practicing anthropology, an outgrowth of academically-oriented applied anthropology, is now a rapidly-growing field. In consultation with practicing anthropologists, we have designed a project-based program that will provide MA students with the theoretical and methodological knowledge, skills and tools that are adapted to the world outside the academy, the world of social service agencies, non-governmental organizations, consulting firms, industry, and corporate business. The goal of this program is to facilitate the employment of our students as anthropologists in the world beyond the university where they can make a difference while making a livelihood.
Strengths of the Practicing Anthropology Stream
- Advanced training in applied methodology and techniques
- Policy analysis and development
- Socio-cultural and environmental impact assessment
- Cultural analysis, cultural competency, and cultural safety
- Cultural program assessment
- Writing and presentation skills for diverse clients and audiences
- Client-based responsiveness
- Local, national and international project opportunities
- Access to practicing anthropologists for guidance and advice
Although late applications may be considered, it should be noted that most financial aid is awarded in February and March for September admission.