Crow Canyon’s College Field School

Posted May 9, 2019

Practical Training, Unique Opportunities, and a Hot Shower

There are a lot of possible career paths in the science of archaeology—from field excavation and laboratory analysis to museum curation and cultural affairs. But a common thread for all budding researchers is that before they can graduate they must attend a field school, where they learn the practical field and laboratory skills required to be a working archaeologist.

However, picking the right Field School isn’t necessarily easy. There are a lot of factors students must consider when they consider a program, such as the quality and availability of the instructors, the location and nature of the research, and the overall value of the knowledge they’ll gain as they start their careers in archaeology.

The College Field School at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center checks off each of those boxes. But those aren’t Crow Canyon’s only advantages.

“It doesn’t hurt that we offer internet access, showers, beds, and incredible meals,” says Dr. Susan Ryan, Crow Canyon’s Director of Archaeology and head of the Center’s College Field School program.

The Crow Canyon College Field School is a college-accredited and Register of Professional Archaeologists-certified four-week program designed to give students a much better understanding of applied techniques utilized in the lab and field, as well as a greater sense of what they want to focus on in their careers and in graduate school. A typical day for a student at Crow Canyon may include pedestrian and geophysical survey, mapping, excavation, GIS instruction, laboratory work, classroom learning, and service learning projects.

“We have created a field school that is unique compared to traditional field schools offered in university settings,” says Ryan. “Students interact with various Native scholars, conduct a service learning project in collaboration with the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, receive exceptional mentorship and guidance from some of the top archaeologists in the field, and are encouraged to understand why archaeology and anthropology are relevant to societies across the world today.”

Ryan says that memories of her own field school experience has helped her shape Crow Canyon’s College Field School.

“Although I greatly appreciated my field school training on a Mississippian site in southern Illinois, it didn’t come close to what students will experience at Crow Canyon,” says Ryan. “We received very little information on the descendant communities that were related to the people we were studying archaeologically. The required research was very traditional and it didn’t challenge us to broaden the relationship between past human behavior and the rest of society. We were never told why or how our work mattered to humanity.”

For more information about the College Field School, including tuition and application information,

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